Friday, July 21, 2006

I was 51% Wrong about Steve Jobs ... but that leaves 49% Right!



In March of 2006, I published the story 5 Things Steve Jobs Has Misled Us About In The Last 30 Years. In this piece I discussed how Steve Jobs was strategically selling Pixar to Disney at an interesting time in Pixar's history ... a time when two of it's least successful films were coming to theaters; Cars & Ratatouille.

From the article:

The Disney buyout of Pixar ...

Personally, I think this merger comes at a different time than say Pre-Incredibles.

I think the merger is dishonest because this will be Pixar's least successful film to date.

This movie (Cars) is geared towards boys - girls have no interest in cars ... I feel it's why A Bug's Life didn't do great ($160 million) vs Finding Nemo ($340 million) (US Domestic)

A Bug's Life

Domestic: $162,798,565
+ Foreign: $200,600,000
= Worldwide: $363,398,565
+ $26 million for 7.4% ticket inflation according to BOXOFFICEMOJO.COM inflation formula

Adjusted total: $389,400,000

While I'm sure it will be a great film --- outdoing anything Dreamworks could possibly think up ... I just think this deal is being made at a time when Pixar stock could take a huge hit because of lackluster box office results for Cars.


I was blasted in the comments for making this statement. I told friends that I doubted that Cars would make more than $200 Million at the US box office. I was obviously wrong, but not completely ;-)

I predicted that it would do less business than The Incredibles ... Pixar's previous theater release.

Domestic: $194,725,110
+ Foreign: $448,116,087
= Worldwide total: $642,841,197


What movie do you think the above totals are from? A Pixar movie? Nope ... Ice Age 2 ... a 2006 release. Interesting ... Cars is an American thing ... a lot of people don't have cars nor are cars as important to foreigners as to Americans. And as I said before ... cars are more of a male thing.

Animals are universally appealing. Toys are universally appealing. Monsters are universally "appealing".

One reason the computer animated movie Robots didn't do as well (and was a really good movie made by same people as Ice Age) is because not many people can identify with robots ... same as Cars ...

It's not going to be possible for Cars to do this box office (below) from The Incredibles (Pixar's last feature)

Domestic: $261,441,092
+ Foreign: $369,995,000
= Worldwide: $631,436,092


Here's Cars current totals:

Domestic: $223,359,127
+ Foreign: $81,450,000
= Worldwide: $304,809,127


Even if each total DOUBLES ... Cars will be the least successful Pixar film to date for total worldwide box office take.

Here is a review of Cars I did at release:

Cars: Pixar's 1st Clunker?


On a different note:



Were the new MacBooks designed because of my article? I doubt my article had any influence on Apple design ... but I am certain higher ups read it. That article was nothing short of my "15 words of fame" for this site ... receiving nearly 4.6 million hits.

In the article I said:

Of all Macs ... the iBook is by far the worst designed computer Apple has ever made. It looks nice, all the fittings and ports have a tight tolerance construction. But upgrading or replacing the hard drive is difficult at best ... even for a long time experienced technician such as myself. Practically any part (other than the keyboard, RAM, and airport card) on an iBook is a 1 hour job to replace ... on most PC laptops, replacing the hard drive is a matter of 2-4 screws ... same with the optical drive (DVD/CD/Burner) Just opening the iBook subjects you to accidentally severing a cable that may cost a lot of money and may take weeks to get in for replacement.


Now ... the new MacBooks have the easiest to upgrade RAM and hard drive of ANY laptop Apple has released. And for that ... Apple ... thank you.

As for the 3 other things:

1) Apple being too far ahead of the curve ... remains true. However ... I think an iPhone release is getting more and more important for Apple. I don't think the market can mature much more before Apple would be too late. The Motorola RAZR, SLVR, and now the new K1 have already started to dominate. Apple needs to jump in now (or at least before the holidays) and I think they will.

Can an iPhone be Apple's Next iPod?


Apple On The iPhone: "We're Not Sitting Around Doing Nothing"


2) Video Content for iTunes - fact is Steve just changed his mind.

" . . . there’s no need for video on devices like the iPod. Video is “the wrong direction to go”, “there’s no content,” “the screens are too small” and competitors to the iPod putting R&D into providing video are “digging in the wrong place.”


Only apologists and Apple fanboys oozed that he said this as misdirection for the competition. He said that he didn't think people wanted to watch video on small screens and now that iTunes video has taken off with immense success ... well ... you know how to complete this sentence. It will be very interesting to see how full feature length movies will be handled with the iPod. I hope that the rumor mill is wrong and that movies will not be "rentals that expire" as purchased from iTunes. Jobs' strongest point about the iPod and iTunes Music Store success has been the fact that, even though the music and video has DRM ... you own it.

3) Overpromising and Under-delivering ... I think Apple has gotten much better at this over the last 2 years ... one way is by having hyped events with small surprises. This way ... media can't alweays expect something revolutionary. (And financial analysts won't take a chunk out of Apple stock the next day either.)

So ... I'm going for 51% wrong and 49% right.

17 comments:

oliver said...

On "Cars" - you do realize that the movie has not been released yet in some important European media markets such as Germany? I think it is too early to talk about its relative success. It may very well be that "Cars" ends up being the first Pixar movie to earn less than the previous one, but that does not necessarily mean it is a "clunker" or that it is not successful.

fixyourthinking said...

"...but that does not necessarily mean it is a "clunker" or that it is not successful."

good point ... but I didn't say "unsuccessful" I said least succesful to date.

This is what financial analysts look at as well. If you miss by 1 cent on your earnings or your last product doesn't match the success of it's predecessors ... often your stock tanks ... now ... with the Disney buyout ... we'll never know how Pixar stock would have performed.

On "Cars" - you do realize that the movie has not been released yet in some important European media markets such as Germany?

And the German market makes all films ... not to poke fun at your comment ... just ribbing you.

Actually, several movie sites I've read indicate that it's almost played out in Europe and Asia with a few exceptions.

While I loved the reference to cow tipping ... how many foreign audiences are gonna find that funny?

I liked the movie, but it is my least favorite Pixar film and isn't memorable.

soft_guy said...

iBook the worst computer Apple has ever made???

So, you are saying it is worse than the Apple III?

Worse than the Mac IIvx?

Worse than the PowerBook 5300?

Worse than the Mac Portable?

I think you either don't know the history of Apple's models (specifically the ones I mention), or else you are crazy as a spin bug.

fixyourthinking said...

iBook the worst computer Apple has ever made???

You didn't read the original article:

It is by FAR (without a doubt) the most difficult to work on, to upgrade, or to service of ANY machine Apple has made.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see you can "fix your thinking" while advising others to do so. (You might have called the site, "I'm Right, You're Wrong" but that would have been too direct). Kidding aside, I agree that Cars is Pixar's worst film. I left the theater feeling unsatisfied. It wasn't because of the Nascar venue, though, but rather the story was just too familiar without the new twists that make predictable not.

Richard Taylor

Anonymous said...

You comparison to The Incredibles is a little bit off. You quote the 369,995,000 foreign number vs. Cars 81,450,000, but what you fail to mention is that the numbers for The Incredibles includes 33 markets that Cars has yet to open in. If you compare the markets that Cars has opened in to how The Incredibles did, it looks like this:

The Incredibles: 87,631,052
Cars: 80,918,072

When looking at these numbers you should remember two things:

1. The Cars number does not include Italy, Germany, , Japan and the UK. Those three countries made up 28% of the foreign release of The Incredibles.

2. The Incredibles number far more than the month and a half that Cars has been out.

So, not only is Cars about to outsell The Incredibles in the US, but it is about to do so in the foreign markets as well.

Anonymous said...

Even if each total DOUBLES ... Cars will be the least successful Pixar film to date for total worldwide box office take.

I forgot about this in my previous post, but please meet A Bug's life

You seriously think Cars will not be the
$363,398,565 worldwide number for A Bug's Life?

At only 50 million shy? Uhh, yeah.... whatever you say.

fixyourthinking said...

Look ... I realize Cars is a success ... I'm not saying it isn't ... A Bug's Life was a success. I also realize it hasn't played out yet, but thing is, it hasn't made nearly what other Pixar fils have and it won't even come close to the last 3 films ... therefore my statement holds true.

I haven't quite understood why people think I'm trying to make statistics sday what I want them to say or trying to make a point that I'm not here.

Anonymous said...

I haven't quite understood why people think I'm trying to make statistics sday what I want them to say or trying to make a point that I'm not here.

Because you say things like this:

it hasn't made nearly what other Pixar fils have and it won't even come close to the last 3 films ... therefore my statement holds true.

And to prove your point you use a the total for one movie that covers 23 weeks and compare it to a number that covers 6.4 weeks. If you can't see how that doesn't come off as making statistics say what you want, then I am sorry. Remember that all of this was in a post telling us how right you are.

fixyourthinking said...

Actually .. it may have only been 6.4 weeks ... but all Pixar movies in the past have made 75% of their money in the first 30 days (or 4 weeks) in the past.

(I'm getting my stats from boxofficemojo.com)

Also, movies are much quicker to DVD nowadays than they were in the case of a Bug's Life, Toy Story, and maybe even Finding Nemo.

Again, I'm not saying Cars isn't a success ... I was just saying that I found it interesting that Pixar was sold at a time when two of its least successful movies came out. You can be assured that the stock of Pixar would be suffering right now.

While I see a lot of promotional merchandise for Cars ... I don't seem to see nearly what Monsters Inc Finding nemo and The Incredibles had. It would be interesting see if the previous totals on merchandising were met as well.

Middle-agedman said...

The implication in your article was that Cars was going to be enough of a lesser success that it would make Disney feel duped that it made the deal with Steve Jobs. The implication came across as though you were talking about Kevin Costner coming off of Dances with Wolves and Field of Dreams and producing The Postman or Waterworld. You may not have meant that, but that's how it came across. The article was about Steve Jobs misleading people (something bad) so it is logical to think that the implication was that Cars would have lower box office than expected. I don't think anyone was predicting that Cars was going to be the breakout Pixar movie of all time. Success in the movie business often comes down to making more money than was spent; many, many films but very reputable and long-established film companies lose money and often lose a LOT of money.

Here are some things to consider: first of all, there is a lot more competition for the rendered animation film dollar these days than there used to be. Second, Pixar movies tend to be more sophistocated than the others which tends to appeal to the mid to upper end of the movie-going spectrum and their children. As you have personally mentioned on several occasions, Pixar is not willing to engage in bathroom humor to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I am amazed that Big Momma 2 made ANY money at all, but its clear that lowering your standards can up your profits in this industry. Its nice to see a film company that has STANDARDS, something that Steve Jobs has touted for years.

Third, in an effort to put out a mix of genres and types of films to round out their profile, it is only natural that some will be more popular than others. Diversity in this case is a definite positive and Disney of all companies should recognize that very well and be pleased by that.

Fourth, many of the comments are right about the jury still being out on this film. All the numbers are NOT in, so you cannot say that you were right or wrong at this point. Cars is currently the ONLY G-rated movie being offered in mainstream theatres THIS SUMMER SO FAR and I suspect that fact alone will keep it in theatres longer than one might think.

Fifth, and perhaps repetitious, is the fact that this is a very high quality film that sacrificed little or nothing to achieve a very high degree of realism without looking like a live-action film. This is as good as it gets, folks, and the visuals on this film are STUNNING. It is a technological achievement that is simply incredible.

Sixth, Pixar has often made films of certain genres to advance their own technology and put more film resources in their own quiver. Think water effects in Finding Nemo and motion and machine effects in this film.

If Disney is anything other than very gratified that they put their trust in Steve Jobs they are INSANE. The Disney bosses are toasting Mickey as we speak.

fixyourthinking said...

Middle-AgedMan said:The implication came across as though you were talking about Kevin Costner coming off of Dances with Wolves and Field of Dreams and producing The Postman or Waterworld. You may not have meant that, but that's how it came across. The article was about Steve Jobs misleading people (something bad)

This is just plain out and out wrong. Actually the first half of the article was a praise of Steve Jobs and his success. It is true that Pixar was old at a time when two of its least successful movies were coming to theaters. (It doesn't matter the reason. Wall Street and Shareholders care less about reasons and more about results. Steve Jobs has a habit of over promising and underdelivering (mainly because he surprises so often)) Least successful does NOT imply anything about unprofittable or box office success. Attack Of the Clones was the least successful Star Wars movie, but Phantom Menace was the worst. Neither of these movies were poor performers at the box office, and neither were unsuccesful ... however, 20th Century Fox took a hit after Attack Of the Clones came out. Pixar stock would be taking a hit right now if it was still being traded. Same scenario.

Anonymous said...

I am still perplexed how you know a movie that is not done is going to be one of the least successful. Other than not liking the trailer, I fail to see the basis of this claim, but you keep stating it as if it were a fact.

RaaRchel said...

In this piece I discussed how Steve Jobs was strategically selling Pixar to Disney at an interesting time in Pixar's history ... a time when two of it's least successful films were coming to theaters; Cars & Ratatouille.

How do you know Ratatouille is going to be one of the least popular? The teasers only been released maybe two months if they havent been released (the "were coming part") surely you can't say there were the least successful until the films have run its course and ends at all cinemas

I enjoy your blog enourmously, but that part i disagree with, cos it doesn't make sense, maybe re-wording as sounding more of an opinion than a fact, it would have been less confusing for me :)

fixyourthinking said...

The facts are the facts ...

Cars had one THE weakest opening (if inflation adjusted) of any Pixar film.

Cars received the weakest reviews of ANY Pixar film to date.

Cars is out of the top 10 the quickest of ANY Pixar film.

Cars WILL not and CAN NOT be in theaters as long as other Pixar films before being released on video.

Almost every single pixar film to date has doubled or tripled it's budget to make domestically and made it's money back internationally. I don't think that's attainable from the current stats.

I will say this ... I wasn't right about Cars ... but I wasn't really wrong.

Truthfully this summer was somewhat of an anomaly if you ask me ... mostly due to high gas prices ... more people are seeing movies (which were pretty lackliuster this summer) as their vacations.

As for Ratatouille ... I hope I am wrong ... but other Rat CGI movies are coming out first ... I'll state again ... most all Pixar movies have appealed to both boys and girls or made boys "things" cool to girls so far. Girls are where the money in marketing is at.

From what I have seen ... Ratatouille doesn't interest me as an adult (story wise) ... much the same way as Cars.

RaaRchel said...

a time when two of it's least successful films were coming to theaters; Cars & Ratatouille.

surely the fact you stated arent facts as you were talking when cars was not released ("were
coming to cinemas"), hence had no figures, it is your opinion that they would be lesser earners at the time, and as it happens cars has had a weaker opening, however, it will probably outrank bugs life, as a fellow poster above mentioned its only $50,000 away.

The quote i used above makes it sound as if you are stating a fact written on stone, unless you secretly have a time machine hidden and know these two films will be the lesser earning ;oP

RaaRchel said...

Sorry the first line of that about the facts not being facts, i was refering to the quote not being a fact, at the time you wrote it, not the facts you provided me with stating it was the quickest to drop out of the top ten etc.