Midyear Awards Report: Disney/DreamWorks/Pixar (Analysis)
'Avengers' Stars to Present at the Oscars
NOTE: Throughout July and August, The Hollywood Reporter's lead awards analyst and blogger Scott Feinberg will analyze each studio's 2012 awards outlook. He will then post his first "Feinberg Forecast" of the season -- featuring ranked projections for every major Oscar category -- on Sunday, Aug. 12.
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Disney, Pixar (which Disney acquired in 2006) and DreamWorks (whose films are released by Disney's Touchstone Pictures banner, which handles its more mature fare) collectively account for a considerable number of awards contenders season after season. Last year, the Academy strongly embraced two DreamWorks films (The Help and War Horse, which both earned best picture noms and received a total of 10 noms), two very different sorts of Disney films (Reel Steel was nominated for best visual effects, and The Muppets was nominated for and won best original song) and one Pixar film (not the studio's big feature Cars 2 but rather its short La Luna, which was nominated for best animated short). Even if the studio's 13 collective noms produced only one Oscar, virtually all of the films on their slates were well-reviewed and performed very strongly at the box office.
2012: SO FAR
Speaking of the box office, these guys all but owned it during the first half of the new season -- save for the expensive bump in the road that was March's John Carter -- with two of the top five highest grossers.
Things got off to a historic start with the May 4 release of Joss Whedon's The Avengers, the culmination of Marvel's series of comic book films over the last five years. The earlier installments -- Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Captain America (2011) -- set the stage for this final piece of the puzzle. The unprecedented rollout for this 3D film about a diverse group of superheroes who unite to try to save the world from disaster -- played by Oscar nominees Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, and Mark Ruffalo, plus Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johansson, with support from Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow and Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson -- paid off in spades: it scored the biggest opening weekend in history ($207.3 million), reached $500 million domestically faster than any other film, and has now grossed $612 million domestially and $1.5 billion worldwide, more than any other film save for Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009). More importantly, in terms of awards, it has been widely cheered by critics and the public (scoring 92% and 96%, respectively, on RottenTomatoes.com).
Then, in mid-June, Pixar released its big awards hopeful -- it always puts out one feature a year, the release of which is always a hotly anticipated event -- Brave, directed by Brenda Chapman (Pixar's first female director) and Mark Andrews (who replaced Chapman following creative disagreements). The studio's first fairy tale and first film centered around a female protagonist, it is set in ancient Scotland and focuses on Merida (voiced by Boardwalk Empire's Kelly Macdonald), a young princess and tomboy who refuses to be told whom she should marry, causing a falling-out between her and her mother that leads her to take an action that she spends the rest of the film trying to rectify. It's certainly not Pixar's most ambitious or entertaining effort, but it is, like all of their films, a profitable one: it cost $185 million, but has already grossed $211 million domestically and more than $281 million overall.