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How a six minute-long "Tangled" short wound up being a big earner for the Disney Store

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How a six minute-long "Tangled" short wound up being a big earner for the Disney Store

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In response of yesterday's "Looking back / looking ahead at Marvel Entertainment's merger with The Walt Disney Company" story, She Hulk wrote in to say:

In this article, both Jay Rasulo and Jeph Leob use  the term "bandwidth" while discussing what Marvel used to be able to do on its own versus what Marvel can do now that it's owned by Disney. I've never heard "bandwidth" used in this way before. Could you perhaps explain what Jay & Jeph were talking about?

Well, in the world of business, "bandwidth" refers to the resources that are necessary to complete a particular task or project.

And when it comes to The Walt Disney Company, thanks to its four major business units (i.e. Studio Entertainment, Parks and Resorts, Consumer Products and Media Networks) the Mouse has the bandwidth to do the sorts of things with its new films & TV shows that other entertainment companies can just dream about.

I mean, sure. Warner Bros. Animation can produce terrific new theatrical shorts like 2011's "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat" ...

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

... and 2012's "Daffy's Rhapsody" ...

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

... but let's be honest here. The only people (to date) who have seen these fun Matthew O'Callaghan films are:

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Whereas "Tangled Ever After" ... The Walt Disney Company made sure that this six minute-long sequel to 2010's "Tangled" got off to a strong start earlier this year by tacking this Nathan Greno & Byron Howard film onto the January 13th release of "Beauty and the Beast 3D."

Then -- from there -- to make sure that as many Disney fans as possible got to see Rapunzel & Flynn Rider's nuptials ...

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... not to mention the havoc that Pascal & Maximus cause when they accidentally lose track of the wedding rings in mid-ceremony ...

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... After "Beauty and the Beast 3D" had ended its theatrical run, Company officials arranged for "Tangled Ever After" to air on the Disney Channel on March 23rd, right after "The Princess and The Frog" aired on that cable channel.

Three days later, Disney also made this same CG short became available for viewing online at the Disney Princess website.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

And then -- to cap the whole thing off -- Disney Stores nationwide handed out invitations and/or set out e-mails late last month, inviting their very best customers to come out for  a very special event: An in-store celebration of the wedding of Rapunzel & Flynn Rider.

And this past Saturday, all over North America, little boys & girls journeyed to their local Disney Store so that they could then -- at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. -- watch "Tangled Ever After" on the big screen at the very back at that store.

Patrons of the Disney Store at Massachusetts' South Shore Plaza look on as Rapunzel
and her father head down the aisle. Photo by Nancy Stadler

And -- of course -- once this short was over, these kids & their parents had to then walk out past the "Tangled Ever After" display at their local Disney Store ...

Photo by Nancy Stadler

... which featured collectible doll versions of Rapunzel & Flynn Rider in their wedding finery.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Not to mention a kid-sized recreation of Rapunzel's wedding dress.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Or a plush version of Pascal in his ringer bearer outfit.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And from what I hear, Disney Stores nationwide racked up some really impressive sales of "Tangled Ever after" merchandise this past Saturday. All because they convinced a bunch of boys & girls to make a special trip to the mall with their parents to see a six minute-long short that they'd already probably seen for free online and/or on the Disney Channel.

Only The Walt Disney Company has the ability to do something like this. Take a short like "Tangled Ever After" and  leverage this production across so many different delivery platforms & distribution systems (theatrical release, cable, internet et al) so that it can then re-energize the "Tangled" brand as well as the entire Disney Princess franchise. Which -- of course -- has a very positive impact on the bottom line at the Disney Store and/or Disney Consumer Products.

Among the items that were selling strongly on Saturday
 were these Disney Animators' Collection Dolls,
which featured a toddler version of Rapunzel.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

This is why the people at Marvel keep talking about Disney's bandwidth. They've never before been in business with people who are so skilled when it comes to the art of keeping their library of characters evergreen / out in the public eye.  Which is why people like Jeff Loeb & Joe Quesada just can't wait 'til Disney does for Iron Man & Captain America what they just did with Rapunzel & Flynn Rider.

Does that answer your question, She Hulk?

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  • "I Twat I Twat a Puddy Tat?"

    Oh my...  that'd be a whole other film entirely.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: And not a very family-friendly one at that. Thanks ever so much for pointing out that typo. I could have wound up unintentionally offending a lot of JHM readers if you hadn't caught that.

    This is what comes from doing my proof-reading just before I head to bed at midnight. I won't make that mistake again (I hope)

  • That's quite alright.  It gave me a good chuckle.  G'nite Jim!

  • Too bad they closed the Disney Stores near us!

  • I've heard lots of discussions about bandwidth in my way-to-many years of working in the corporate world.  This has to be one of the best, most concise examples I've ever seen.  

    Well done.  (And I will be stealing it [with appropriate reference] in future discussions I'm forced to have.)

  • "Only The Walt Disney Company has the ability to do something like this."

    Well, even they're only able to do this when they put out a film as wonderful as Tangled. When they released sub-par boardroom re-writes like Bolt and Brother Bear, the WDC would not have been able to PAY parents to drag their kids to the mall to see something related to them.

    The moral to my seemingly snarky comment?


    Yes, it's hard. Yes, some of it is just pure luck. But if you go back to the methods used in the good old days (heck, even the good-sorta-recent-days: the late 80s/early 90s, and that one magical moment when you gave Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois the freedom to make Lilo & Stitch), Tangled could become the first film in the third Disney renaissance, and not just the one-off fluke that most folks see it as.

    I LOVE IT WHEN YOU SUCCEED, DISNEY! I love it when you release a film that touches my heart and makes me laugh and causes me to fight back a tear or two. What's more, I solemnly swear to spend lots and lots of money on your Disney Store merchandise and fast food tie-ins when you do.

  • Jim, can you talk about Disney's connection, if any, to the Marvel Broadway Show "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark"?

    EDITOR'S NOTE: My understanding is that Tony Adams' 2002 deal with Marvel Comics (which -- obviously -- predated The Walt Disney Company's August 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, Inc.) was basically completely walled off from Disney Theatrical. So Disney had / has little or nothing to do with this Broadway production and the various sit-down versions of this show which are allegedly already in the works for Las Vegas, Tokyo and London. Not to mention the arena / touring versions. The only way that the Mouse is connected to this show is that -- through Marvel -- it collects a weekly royalty / cut of the overall ticket sales.

    That said, I have heard rumors that -- when the Broadway version of "Spider-Man : Turn Off the Dark" was having so much trouble during its preview period last year and it was clear that a pretty extensive / expensive overhaul of this musical was going to be necessary to save this show -- the producers did supposedly reach out to Disney Theatrical, offering them a piece of the show if they opted to substantially invest in the reinvention of this musical. From what I hear, Disney (politely as possible, so as not to offend the folks at Marvel Entertainment, Inc.) politely declined. Reportedly insisting that -- what with getting the regional productions of "Disney's Aladdin: The New Stage Muscial" and "Newsies: The Musical" ready -- their plate was already very full. Which is why they just didn't have the time or the financial resources available to get involves with the overhaul  / reinvention of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

    That's the story that I heard late last year. Given that "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" now slowly seems to be becoming a success, I wonder if the folks at Disney Theatrical now regret not getting involved. Though -- again, the way I heard -- another factor here was Disney Theatrical's long-standing relationship with Julie Taymor. And given that one of the main reasons that "Turn Off the Dark" 's producers were allegedly reaching out to Disney was that they were hoping for some help in finding a replacement for the acclaimed director of the Broadway version of Disney's "The Lion King" ... Well, there was just no way that Disney Theatrical was going to get involved in something like that. Especially since they like to have Julie continue to take part in the promotion of this long-running stage musical (which -- just this week -- reportedly surpassed "Phantom of the Opera" as the highest grossing musical in Broadway history).

    Does that answer your question?

  • I said it before and I'll say it again, Disney is one of the only companies that REALLY gets synergy. Which is another "corporate" word that applies to what your talking about here.

    Warner COULD do something similiar (albeit without the store component) to this if they REALLY wanted to, but there divisions are too fragmented to do this successfully.

    Marvel was a little tiny comic publisher that was able to put out ALOT more content than DC which was owned by one of the worldest largest media companies (Warner Bros). Warner has started to get better, but they have ALOT to learn from Disney.

  • Hey Jim,

    Great piece about the Tangled short.  But if Disney can do all this for a six-minute short, why DIDN'T they do anything like this for John Carter?

    EDITOR'S NOTE: There were a number of factors involved here. Chief among these were the number of toy companies & major retail chains who wound up eating most of  their "TRON Legacy" inventory when products associated with that Walt Disney Pictures release didn't sell all that well over the 2010 holiday season.

    Though (to be honest) Disney knew well in advance that "John Carter of Mars" was going to be a tough sell. I remember talking with Company insiders back in June of 2009 at the Licensing Show in Las Vegas. And at that time, I was told that a lot of would-be licensees took a pass on this project. Supposedly because they felt that a film version of this Edgar Rice Burroughs story would be kind of a hard sell with modern audiences. Which meant that there was little or no money to be made off of "John Carter" -inspired toys & t-shirts.

    As to why Disney didn't do a better job of leveraging "John Carter" (the film) across the Company's many delivery platforms & distribution systems ... The way I hear it, all marketing decisions had to be run by Andrew Stanton first. And given that he was working 24/7 right up until the end in order to get this effects-heavy picture completed & delivered on time, a number of seemingly natural promotional opportunities (EX: Using Disney XD to help sell "John Carter" to the young male demographic, setting up "John Carter" prop & costume displays inside of Disneyland's Tomorrowland and at Disney's Hollywood Studios) fell by the wayside because Stanton just didn't have the time to go over these proposals and then approve them.

    FYI: Nancy and I (who -- what with dealing with her Dad's estate as well as dealing with two pretty nasty cases of the flu -- have been very busy / out of commission for the past six weeks or so) finally got around to seeing "John Carter" this past Friday. Me personally, I loved the look of this film but found its storyline somewhat difficult to follow. Especially during the last 45 minutes or so. Which was kind of disappointing, given that ... Well, when I think of Andrew Stanton films like "Finding Nemo" and "WALL-E," those Pixar films have really clear storylines. As an audience member, you always know where you're supposed to be looking and/or who you're supposed to be rooting for.

    Which makes me think that maybe "John Carter" (with its epic scale and hundreds of characters) may have not been the very best project for Stanton to select when he was making his live-action feature film directing debut. Maybe a simpler movie with a smaller cast and a less sprawling plot would have been a smarter way to go for a first-time live action director. But hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?

    But that said, I have to admit that I loved Woola the lizard dog. And I thought that the "John Carter" 's CG animation / performance capture work with the Tharks was nothing short of amazing. The film itself had terrific production values. I just wish that its story had been more engaging.

  • Jim,

    Thanks for the article. Very interesting.

    I've also been wondering about Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark and if it had a Disney connection, so thanks for answering that as well.

    Am I mistaken that John Carter was first in development at Pixar? I thought I had heard something about that.


  • Will Tangled Ever After see a dvd or blue ray release?  Usually these shorts are bonus features of the films they have accompanied but Beauty and the Beast 3D was already released on Blue Ray before it was in the theaters.

  • In addition to what's shown, don't forget the limited edition Rapunzel wedding doll sold out in preorders and online before it ever got the chance to hit the shelves.

  • Interesting, though maybe not surprising, that while Rapunzel has her trimmed brown 'do in the short and even in the in-store promotional display, her "Tangled Ever After" bride doll has the more traditional Rapunzel-length blonde hair.  

    Yes, it contradicts the story, but it's easier than explaining to a little girl (or her mommy, daddy or grandparent) who didn't see the movie why *this* Rapunzel doesn't have long hair when what they really want to do is just sell the doll.... thankyouforshoppingnextplease!

  • @ Charlie re: Rapunzel's hair

    Working at my local Disney Store has given me a new perspective on our average guest. Among all our Tangled Ever After merchandise we had all of one item where Rapunzel's in her short, brown hair - the limited edition collector's doll. Every single other doll was blond hair. And guess which one guests complain about? Yeah, apparently the brown haired version "doesn't look like her." Sigh.

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