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Walt Disney Pictures plans cheesy promotional stunt for "Ratatouille"

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Walt Disney Pictures plans cheesy promotional stunt for "Ratatouille"

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In a little more than three months time, Pixar's next big release, "Ratatouille" will be rolling into theaters. And -- to date -- Walt Disney Pictures' promotional department has done everything that they can in order to get the word out about this Brad Bird film.

This includes creating a teaser trailer for the movie. Which was then followed by an official Ratatouille website. Which is where you'll find a brand-new beefier trailer for this upcoming Pixar Animation Studios' production that's loaded with fun clips.

But stuff like this? It only works for us weenies who already on the Web. But to get the attention of the general public, you have do something bigger. Be a little bolder.

And since last year's "Cars Road Trip '06" (Which sent full-sized replicas of Lightning McQueen, Sally & Mater out on a 40 city tour last spring) did such a good job of raising the public's awareness of that John Lasseter film ... The Mouse is looking to do something similiar for "Ratatouille."

So would you believe a 25-foot-tall & 40-foot-long wedge of Swiss that you walk through? Which will begin touring the U.S. later this Spring as part of Disney / Pixar's "Big Cheese Tour" ?

Just in case you're wondering: No, it won't be a real piece of cheese. But -- rather -- a 600-square-foot structure that only looks like it's made of Swiss Cheese, which can quickly be assembled in each of its host cities. Supposedly 4000 people will then have the chance each day to explore this temporary building. Where there'll be rat holes for the kids to crawl through as well as HD screens showing clips from the film as well as behind-the-scenes footage.

Mind you, those who are outside waiting in line for their chance to tour the Great Hall of Cheese will be entertained by local chefs. Who will be invited to come present cooking demonstrations on a raised outdoor stage.


Copyright 2007 Disney / Pixar

Now for the big question: Where is the "Big Cheese Tour" headed? Based on the info that I have in hand, this special "Ratatouille" promotion will be making stops in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City and Washington D.C. With most (if not all) of these stops being tied to food-related events like the Ninth Avenue International Food Fest (May 19 & 20), Riversplash (June 1, 2 & 3) and Taste of Chicago (June 29 - July 8).

As for the rest of the stops of the "Big Cheese Tour" ... Look for Walt Disney Pictures' marketing department to make an official announcement sometime in the coming weeks. Though (from what I hear) the Mouse is looking to keep this "Ratatouille" promotional unit on the road for quite a while. To support both this Pixar film's June 2006 theatrical release as well as its debut on DVD in December.

By the way, all you JHM readers in Europe and Asia shouldn't despair about missing out on your chance to visit this enormous chunk of Swiss Cheese. Disney's marketing department dearly wants to send this temporary structure overseas. If only to get some publicity shots of this admittedly cheesy temporary structure set up next to the Colosseum or in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Sooo ... If you're a fan of computer animation and/or great food, you probably want to make a point of seeking out "The Big Cheese Tour" as this special "Ratatouille" promotion visits your neck of the woods later this spring / early this summer.

Speaking of CG ... Tonight between 7 & 8:30 p.m., the Reelz Channel will be broadcasting the 5th Annual VES Awards. Presented by the Visual Effects Society, this annual event honors the talented artists who actually created all of those characters & effects for such memorable 2006 releases as "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Cars," "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Casino Royale." So if you want to learn more about the men who made Davy Jones' tentacles wriggle and/or made Mater that likable lunkhead, you might want to check out this 90-minute-long TV special tonight.

Besides, if you're a Disneyana fan, Reelz should be on your radar anyway. Given that this is where you can catch Leonard Maltin (AKA The author of "The Disney Films" as well as the host of the "Walt Disney Treasures" DVD sets)'s great new show, "Secret's Out." Which does a great job of talking up Hollywood's hidden gems as well as showcasing notable new DVD versions of classic films.

Check it out, folks. You'll be glad you did.

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  • Sounds like fun, but I have to ask... Is Disney actually planning to tell people where they can go see this big hunk of cheese, or will this be like the Cars tour, where the only people who got to see the Cars were special invitees and the media and the cars were in locations inaccessible to the public?

  • Hmmm..  I hope it comes to the Netherlands, what better country to introduce a film by using cheeeesseee :D

  • I remember seeing the Lightning and Sally last year at the E3 videogame convention in LA, and although it was a huge media event, like pschnebs said, it wasn't exactly an open-to-the-public deal either. How do they plan to build interest in the general public when they're only going to be hitting up food-fairs that cater to a narrow demographic? I feel like Disney's gonna have to put alot more effort selling this movie to kids, who otherwise might not be interested in cuddling up to a gourmet-dining RAT...

  • I found out about the Cars tour from my contacts within State Farm (the sponsor) as my company handles different reward programs for State Farm.  I would never have found anything about it otherwise as it was not advertised at all here in Minneapolis.  If Disney wants this new tour to work they need to get the word out and have stuff on the internet and radio about it.

  • Cars Tour - no info from the local State Farm office available last year, and the net was the only place I ever heard about it. The car and cheese tours are designed to hit the last 3 minutes of the evening newscast, so the marketing dept can say, "Look at all the free publicity we got!!!"

    If you want to get the word out to the general public - buy ads on national television networks. Disney Co - here's a hint - you own one. If you want kids to know about it, advertise on Saturday mornings. It's not rocket science. Phone up the network, tell them who you want to see your ad, and they will tell you which shows to advertise during.  

    Don't want to spend that much? OK, just make three different shows - one an hour, and two half hours - about the making of your movie. There will be plenty of time to explain the plot, show why people want to see rats, and how your movie is different from Flushed Away. Play the hour show twice on ABC - primetime Sunday and Wednesday before the movie debuts. Play the half hour shows daily on Disney Channel and any other cable channel you have a partial stake in except the ESPN group.

    The promotional dept clearly hasn't done "everything that they can in order to get the word out " to promote this film, or everyone in America would know how to pronounce the title and what the movie's about. At the same time, it's not exactly rocket science, especially for a company with the resources available to it. We continually hear about the vaunted Disney marketing machine, but this cheese building ain't their finest hour.

  • I don't know about the other events, but Taste of Chicago is hardly a "food fair" catering to a narrow demographic.  Besides the food, there are concerts constantly going on on multiple stages in addition to other events.  It's the most attended event in the city.  Last year 3.6 million people passed through in ten days.

    Seems like a good call to me.

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