View Full Version : Disney advises Texans to forget 'The Alamo'

09-05-2002, 06:42 PM
Disney advises Texans to forget 'The Alamo'

Rickie Windle

Maybe it's Mickey Mouse's failure to catch the Texas sense of scope that has him acting so goofy. At least Mr. Mouse's corporate employer seems to be missing the sense of grandeur.

Disney just doesn't seem to understand that telling a Texas tale takes big bucks. But the return could be just as big.

The evidence is in "The Alamo." Not the hallowed little building in the midst of downtown San Antonio, but the facade out near Dripping Springs and the film expectations around it.

It seems that a little Scrooge has come out of Disney in relation to the film.

Ron Howard - whether you know him from the Academy Awards or Opie or Richie Cunningham - was the linchpin to what appeared to be one of the year's most important film productions. Not just around these parts, but anywhere.

Howard slipped into Austin with big plans and a gubernatorial press conference to say he planned to remake the epic that John Wayne first brought to the big screen. And on the periphery, it was said he'd spend nine figures doing it.

Now that's thinking Texas big. But recent press reports indicate Howard is out as director and we've probably lost local musician and Academy Award winner Russell Crowe as Sam Houston as well.

It's all about the money. The reports say Howard did get the Lone Star style and saw telling the tale as taking $130 million. Disney suggested that maybe he could cut a few Texans from the interior of the defended mission, lose a couple of cannons and maybe use computer-generated Mexican soldiers in addition to real people. They saw it more as closer to $100 million.

Not good enough, Mr. Howard said. He decided to take his camera and go home. His production company will still be involved, but not his much-sought talent as director.

That's a great loss when it comes to looking for a storyteller to regale us with the one that may mean most to Texans and tell all outside-border dwellers why we're like we are.

This is the man who figured a way to film the iconic American movie star Tom Hanks underwater in "Splash" and in space in "Apollo 13." In fact, Howard went so far as to risk his cookies to get his hands on a plane to simulate weightlessness for his moon mission film.

Howard could probably give true vision to heroic defense against overwhelming odds. His defection costs us some good casting, too.

These days, when actors pick and choose their projects, the turning point is often the director. We all would like to choose our boss. With his sometimes sour temperament, renowned rounder Crowe would have made a pretty good Sam Houston.

Disney has made a mistake. Now, we've all learned more about fiscal responsibility in the last year or so. We write with the pencils until they get down to the last few inches and do lunches that come between bread a lot more often.

But Disney has missed what may be an opportunity that doesn't come along very often. In an industry where timing is everything, Disney blew it.

Disney had the edge and may be letting it slip away. It's like deciding to make Magic Mountain a Magic Hill to keep the bottom line prettier for the next quarterly report.

Walt would roll in his grave over such a lack of vision. First comes timing. It's pretty likely that Americans could use a John Wayne right now. We're looking for heroes. We have too many real-life ones who have suffered too much, so we'd like some heroes who do it all with nary a scratch until the end, when they give their all with a great quote.

Whether it be lore or fact, that's what the Alamo is about.

There's little doubt that a movie like "The Alamo" - done on the proper scale - could have Wayne-esque proportions. Not just in presentation, but in box office.

There's also that Washington, D.C., thing. There are times in history when being Texan is a special thing. We who live here call that time "today," but outside they pick periods too. If there was a time to invest in putting pure Texana on the screen, it would be with a Bush partial to boots in the White House.

Disney ought to take a second look at its books for the coming year and see if there just might not be that extra $25 million in there somewhere to do "The Alamo" right. To do "The Alamo" the Texas way.

By the way, we natives think there's no difference.

Rickie Windle is editor of the Austin Business Journal, an affiliated publication. E-mail: rwindle@bizjournals.com.

09-05-2002, 07:26 PM
I agree that Disney just doesn't seem to get it. The Alamo saga told properly would have probably brought in virtually every Texan because Texans are like that about this story. A badly told version would not fly though.

Maybe Disney should just cancel the whole thing?

Another Voice
09-05-2002, 08:17 PM
There are more than a few rumors about this own. The new budget for the film is less than half of what Ron Howard wanted. The cast is gone and is rumored to be replaced with unknown (cheaper) and younger (more marketable on MTV) actors. And the best rumor: where the John Sayles script was a historic epic about common people swept up in momentous events – the new version will be a love story.

You could see that one coming couldn’t you.

There are two other bits that fall somewhat below gossip. I usually don’t post this kind of lunch chatter because it can seldom be verified. But it’s been a slow week on the board so let’s throw these out. Remember – these can be considered nothing more than gossip. Read them at your own risk.

First one: the spark of the problem between Eisner and Ron Howard’s company was that Eisner is insisting on a “happy” ending to the movie. Now before you guffaw at that, the suits over at Fox demanded a “happy ending” for ‘Titanic’ as well which is where the “Old Rose” scenes that bookend the movie came from. And Eisner wouldn’t use the term “happy”, he’d call it “uplifting” (but it still means the studly hero will either escape and/or get a token of his true love out the stunning heroine).

Second, it seems Eisner also looked at a calendar and noticed that the movie would be released in the summer of 2004. That’s not a time when certain cliques in Hollywood will want to release any movie that has anything good to say about Texas – or people who come from there.

Peter Pirate
09-05-2002, 09:52 PM
Second, it seems Eisner also looked at a calander and noticed that the movie would be relased in the summer of 2004. That's not a time when certain cliques in Hollywood will want to release anything good to say about Texas - or people who come from there.
I agree with your initial sentiments Voice, this bit of your post should have been left as lunch room chatter... :rolleyes:
:cool: :cool: :bounce: :cool: :cool:

09-05-2002, 09:54 PM
I wonder if I am the only laughing my **** off at your last two 'rumors', AV? Why does it not surprise me that Ei$ner would be more worreid -- or even a little bit worried -- about the timing of a movie with the presidential election.......instead of the incessant drum beat comparisons between DPA (*) and Disney Seas.

(* Disney's Parkinglot Adventure)

Bob O
09-05-2002, 09:55 PM
From the sound of things it would be good for disney not even to make the movie rather than produce a country bears type version. Obviuosly money is more important to them than quality.

09-05-2002, 10:40 PM

Please feel free to share any lunch room chatter with those of us who remember that such chatter is still free and is more often the way business and countries are run.

It would not suprise me if your second comment was closer to the truth. Realizing that this type of gamesmanship can be attributed to much of our political and social processes is keeping ones eyes open. To deny or keep it under the rug only gives it more control over our lives.


Peter Pirate
09-05-2002, 10:44 PM
Tiggerfreak, you seriously think Eisner cares about politics more than a big score? Even AV doesn't believe this one...;)
:cool: :cool: :bounce: :cool: :cool:

09-05-2002, 10:56 PM
Maybe not personally motivating, but I do believe that as the CEO of one of the largest media conglomerate, he might see using his influence as his "Civic" duty.

But, hey none of us are in his head, so who knows, but I won't just dismiss the possiblity. We could find numerous examples of this behavior anywhere in the world and anytime in history.

Hows that quote go: "Power corrupts ...absolute power ...????"

09-05-2002, 11:12 PM
Hey, there are some Texans that aren't thrilled with some of those who come out of Texas. :rolleyes:

I find the second rumor silly at best but the first one seems possible and terrifying. The Alamo story a love story? Oh please! :mad:

Jeff in BigD
09-06-2002, 07:12 AM
Originally posted by Another Voice
Second, it seems Eisner also looked at a calendar and noticed that the movie would be released in the summer of 2004. That’s not a time when certain cliques in Hollywood will want to release any movie that has anything good to say about Texas – or people who come from there.
Totally. A lot of people during 2000 thought Texas was a 3rd world country & racist killings were a daily practice. I wouldn't be too shocked if another healthy round of Texas bashing in the media shows up. That's ok though, screw 'em, it's called the Lone Star State for a reason. (looking for a middle finger to Hollywood smilie) ;)

09-06-2002, 07:43 AM
I think I am the only person alive who did not like Titanic or could even sit through it. :rolleyes:
Can't stand the lead man -- what's his name and I am not a love story person. Hollywood wouldn't know history if it bit them in the butt.
So agree, better to drop the Alamo Disney-style anyway.
Think of all that money Ei$ner will save! :rolleyes:
So with the trapped miners story Disney just shelled out money for -- we can figure on a love story woven into that too, I guess. :rolleyes:

09-06-2002, 08:13 AM
Originally posted by Luv2Roam
I think I am the only person alive who did not like Titanic or could even sit through it. :rolleyes:

I never saw it, neither has my neighbor. It's become a goal for us.


Peter Pirate
09-06-2002, 08:49 AM
Titanic..."Hated it"...(Luv2Roam, I would hate to have you think you're all alone...Though I know what you mean as I feel like I'm the only one who didn't like Shrek!)...
:cool: :cool: :bounce: :cool: :cool:

Another Voice
09-06-2002, 01:58 PM
“Even AV doesn't believe this one...”

Well actually, I think there’s a good chance there might be something behind this. I can't verify it yet, so that's why I call it gossip.

Hollywood politics and Hollywood’s perception of their own importance both fall outside any bounds of rational thought. Even more powerful is the sense of peer pressure in town (political correctness is very much alive and very well). Given all the changes and omissions that Eisner demanded in ‘Black Hawk Down’ to avoid what he considered to be negative reflections on Bill Clinton, I can certainly see where he my exert similar pressures on another movie. And certainly he will not want to be accused (as he would be by certain factions) of producing a movie that glorifies Texas and war in an election year. Whether the movie actually does either of those isn’t a point – it’s the accusation that will cause the damage.

Bob O
09-06-2002, 02:15 PM
Eisner would most defintely allow his liberal ideas to affect the making of a movie and would do so to affect a political issue as he did in Black Hawl Down. It was a great movie but downplayed the dragging of the dead American Soldier and the White house's refusal to let the military use the proper mix of firepower that they wanted to execute the mission. That was whitewashed from the movie for no doubt politicial reasons.
And i really enjoyed Titanic even though im not a big leo fan.

Peter Pirate
09-06-2002, 02:20 PM
Oh, I just can't believe this!!! Alas, why am I surprised?;)

Voice, you generally tell us that Eisner is a money hungry, greedy & trying to cash out quick here at the end of his tenure, self indulgent egomaniac. Yet you now tell us he cares what his peers and people in 'the biz' think of him...And that he would forsake a possible big time movie (that he would get lots of credit for) because Bush happens to have come from the same state that housed the Alamo? Pretty far-fetched guys...
:cool: :cool: :bounce: :cool: :cool:

Another Voice
09-06-2002, 03:34 PM
Mr. Pirate, what part of Hollywood ISN’T “money hungry, greedy & trying to cash out quick”. His desire for money and personal status are perfectly in keeping the majority of suits in this town. And, in fact, playing on the town’s biases is simply another way to retain power. I’ve never said Eisner is looking to cash out – he definitely wants to stay around at Disney. And failing that, he’d like to move onto another studio. Keepping in the current fashions around town is the best way to be seen as a Player. You can still hear comments from certain sections about the jingoism from ‘Pearl Harbor’; certainly ‘The Alamo’ would receive much harsher criticisms. I doubt politics will play the definitive roll in what happens to ‘The Alamo’, but I think it’s almost certain that it will play some kind of part.

And Eisner DID drop ‘Black Hawk Down’ over politics – that turned out to be a successful box office hit, receive multiple Oscar nominations and brought a lot of credit to Joe Roth (the former head of Disney Studios who Eisner fired and ended up making ‘Black Hawk’ with Jerry Bruckheimer after Eisner dropped the movie).

Don’t make the mistake that Hollywood operates on common sense or rational thought. Normal rules of human behavior don’t seem to apply here.

09-06-2002, 09:33 PM
Another factor with the "Alamo thing" (as reported acoupleof weeks ago in Entertainment Weekly) was that the deal that Ron Howard & Russell Crowe had in mind for the film (other than the huge budget) was that they would get paid totally off of the front end of revenues.

It was said that they would basically get almost the entire first $135 million of revenue before Disney (or anyone else) would see any income at all.

If this is true, since Disney would be responsible for budgeting, marketing, etc., this film would have to bring in about $250 - $300 million in income before Disney met it's costs.

IF this is true, it seems like a pretty smart idea to drop this deal to me.

But hey, who knows. It's Hollywood. They all think the sky is purple & Elvis is still alive.................

Bob O
09-06-2002, 10:06 PM
In hollywood it is the norm that the stars/director get paid up front, so no reason disney should be any diferent unless they want to make movies without proven directors/actors.

King Triton
09-07-2002, 12:41 AM
I cried so much while watching Titanic. :( All those wasted cases of brandy floating to the bottom of the sea.


King Triton

Another Voice
09-07-2002, 02:28 AM
First dollar deals are nothing new in Hollywood at all, though the one mentioned seems a little overly generous to be believable. Ron Howard is rumored to have picked up $15 million and Russell Crow was supposed to be somewhat less than $20 million. Since Ron Howard’s company is producing the movie they would get a share in the revenue, but it’s the same deal Disney has with Bruckheimer, Spyglass, Icon or any other outside production company. No one at Disney would actually do anything to make the movie; the real work (building sets, renting cameras, sewing costumes, etc.) would be done by Imagine. They would obviously get a cut of the money.

Then again, they were tremendously eager to get Ron Howard on the project. He was signed when it looked like Bruckheimer was bolting the company and Disney desperately needed a “name” to work with just for appearances sake. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone offered the moon just to get certain people to commit to the project, and then those same people turn around and welch on the deal.

Jeff in BigD
09-07-2002, 05:26 PM
Originally posted by Luv2Roam
I think I am the only person alive who did not like Titanic or could even sit through it. :rolleyes:
Yeah, after the two hour mark I was actually cheering for the iceberg. Geez, that movie could have been sooooo much better, but oh well. :rolleyes:

Jeff in BigD
09-07-2002, 06:31 PM
AV - Maybe if the script was mixed up & has Santa Anna being a really swell guy & the Texans as violent, racist terrorists ME would go for it.

Pirate - Are you honestly saying that you don't think ME's political biases effect his decisions?

09-08-2002, 02:20 AM
I suspect it would be in Disney's best interest to kill this movie. Droves of texans might go see it but unless they do as good a job as "The Perfect Storm" (every time I see it I think...they have to get out, they just have to!) I think people will stay away...except in Texas.

But I like the idea of casting the Texans as terrorists.... Instead of making a historical but probably inaccurate movie (happy ending?) finally do a movie version of Sliders...in this case Quinn Mallory ends up in a modern Texas attempting to secede from a modern Mexico. Naturally the US backs Mexico as a sovereign democratic nation. Much cheaper to do & you don't have to worry about very many pesky details or realism.

Another Voice
09-08-2002, 02:39 AM
From what I’ve heard, the best thing about the now-discarded John Sayles script was the unique and honest way it handled the events. No one was entirely good, no one was entirely bad. Everyone had a point of view, and each was expressed from a unique perspective. The central point of the movie was that all people are capable of being changed by the events around them; that everyone, no matter their background, is capable of rising to a noble cause.

Well written and intelligent screenplays are amazingly difficult to find (you should see the mound of dren on my bookcase). I hate ‘Pearl Harbor’ because its sloppy, inept, dreadful, appalling script took serious events and turned them into cheap melodrama of the worst and most brain-addled kind. I had been looking forward to ‘The Alamo’ as the complete opposite of that, but I really should have known better. The audience is not as stupid as Michael Eisner wants to think we are.

Jeff in BigD
09-08-2002, 03:45 AM
Originally posted by doubletrouble_vb
I think people will stay away...except in Texas.
But if the movie isn't up to par, I promise a pissed off Texan isn't something Disney wants to deal with.

But I like the idea of casting the Texans as terrorists.
Please tell me this is a joke.

Instead of making a historical but probably inaccurate movie (happy ending?)
Most of the Alamo movies I've seen have handled the "happy ending" by also adding the battle of San Jacento.