Every time the media mentions some sort of surprise runaway bestseller you can almost feel the palpable shock that something succeeded on it’s own merits. As an example, look at Disney’s High School Musical. Disney put out a number of low (for Disney) budget films every summer. These films have little advertising and use the Disney stable of actors. See also Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior with the excellent Brenda Song.

Despite the low key introduction, High School Musical was massively popular. So popular that Disney released a sequel with the same cast, more money and far, far more advertising and hype. As one would expect, High School Musical 2 was also hugely popular. But how much of that was down to advertising and how much down to the fact the first one was so enjoyable?

The fact is that the media and media companies absolutely do not trust us to know what we like. This is why so much is spent on annoying the life out of us with incessant ads. But when left to our own devices we, the public, know what we want to see and what we don’t. That’s why many big budget films fail despite the ads and why a simple, enjoyable musical with catchy songs and a fun script do so well. And, by the way, if you’re wondering why a grown man is watching this sort of thing, well, I have a daughter who is 10 tomorrow. It’s hard to avoid them.


Posted on 8 November, 2007, in Films, Generalities and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You’re right. The underlying point is that marketing is necessary only for creating awareness of a product – not for thrusting it down consumers’ throats.

    Disney has always had that magic touch when it comes to making kids’ movies. It is something that comes to them more naturally than other movie producers who go out of their way to attract kids and end up annoying everybody. Disney attracts all ages. That is the secret of their success. Their recipe for success is tried and tested and guaranteed to work – the right dose of sentimentality, emotional (but not over-emotional) theme, cute kids… they have it all in the right measures to ensure success at the box office.

  2. It seems that Disney works best when they aren’t being watched! I think it’s endemic throughout the industry though – how many wonderful new signings on record labels sink without trace? how many authors fail miserably on their much hyped novels? If the industry would just let itself work we’d all be better off.

  3. My oldest turned 10 last Sunday, and my youngest will be 9 in December. HSM is HUGE in my house. The original HSM was very fun.. the second one was still fun but less so.. who knows what the 3rd one will be like.

    It’s hard for kids not to be swayed by advertising and hype.. heck, it’s hard for adults. Disney doesn’t always score.. I can think of several Disney films that were promoted and were terrible.. but the kids still want to see them because they are Disney and because they’ve seen the previews repeatedly.

  4. Welcome Lisa :dance: Yeah, 2 was nowhere near as good as 1, but still enjoyable. I think the fact that I’ve seen both many many times has taken the shine off them. I believe the 3rd will take them to college and the 4th (which is in planning) will have an entirely new cast. So let’s see how good they are 🙄

    I think that any film which receives a huge amount of hype had better be absolutely gold plated and a work of art. Otherwise everyone ends up looking daft when it falls on it’s face.

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