The Ponyo debacle

Originally I wanted to just update my “what movies to watch”-list, because I browsed through possible candidates and stumbled over Ponyo. However the short note about my disappointment with the delayed release  turned into a fully fleshed-out nerd-rant

Hayao Miyazaki, the japanese grand-master of animated storytelling, who gave us Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle (to name a few) is back. Enough reason to get super excited since Miyazaki-movies have a track record as if that guy is a one-man-Pixar-army (the minds behind Pixar have repeatedly stated how big of an inspiration his movies are) creating great movie after great movie without slowing down.

Ponyo is another example of the bad distribution we have to endure: the movie came out more than a year ago, it was surprisingly snubbed from the “best animated picture” oscar whereas cheap nostalgia (The Princess and the Frog) got nominated and it’s probably out there on DVD somewhere, not to mention the vast internet market.

Now I understand that distribution can be a tricky thing: hits like Paranormal Activity that come as a surprise are impossible to predict and therefore the movie company will not import the movie to the european market unless it makes big bucks in the States (like it happened with Paranormal acivity). This might be another reason, the crazy-as-hell Scott Pilgrim has to wait until January, I’m not really sure.

BUT! Ponyo is a different story. This is not a no-name low budget arthouse movie, no-one has ever heard about, this is not a movie that has flopped (it has a worldwide gross of 200 million dollars, more than Resident Evil 3, where the dumb sequel arrives on time in Europe, because we know how much we love shallow entertainment).

No, nothing applies to Ponyo, it’s even a KID’S MOVIE! Aren’t those the safest movies to bet on? With all the worthless “Talking animal movies” that come out one might think the studio might accidentally bring out a good movie in time, but nope…

Another victim of this is the Spanish horror movie [Rec], which turned into a modern day zombie-classic, revitalizing a genre that felt like beating a dead horse (I am looking at you Resident Evil 1,2 and 3). The sequel [Rec 2] which got tremendously good buzz from festivals never got a big distribution in Germany/Austria. I don’t know why. Maybe because it has a 2 in the title and we might put off our audience because they haven’t seen the first one (thanks again to great distribution).

But then again [Rec] can be found in every DVD store, that’s how I discovered it, that’s how I got scared senseless and the first thing after the movie ended was checking out if the sequel (which by that date had already received great to good reviews) would be screened at our theatres – after getting dumped over and over again [Rec 2] got the straight to DVD-punishment, but come on!

Yeah I can see the “no one knows the first part” argument, but [Rec 2] – like most good sequels – stands on its own feet storywise. Just drop the 2 and come up with a stupid tagline like: [Rec – the outbreak] or [Rec – the police files] some of those unimaginative titles you distributors are so good at. Then sell the movie as “that new horror movie from Spain”, people will not be bothered because they won’t know it’s a sequel and after that they will check out the first part and the guys who have seen the first [Rec] won’t be bothered by the missing 2 and will be able to enjoy a horror ride in perfect audio and video quality in the cinema.

It’s funny that in my local cinema we get the advertisment “Kino – Dafür werden Filme gemacht/ Cinema – that’s what movies are made for” in front of many movies, yet we needn’t be surprised that piracy is booming if the movies we are interested are not distributed in a legal way.

For freakin’s sake, Piranha 3D is the third part and it gets distributed! Do we care that we haven’t seen the first two (except that yeah we should watch the second one because it is directed by James -Aliens,Titanic,Terminator,Avatar- Cameron), do we?

No we don’t, neither will the general audience! Maybe they will post convert the third part of [Rec] and call it [Rec 3D] – get it? (a little help, the 3 from the third part can be used for the 3 in 3d)

It seems as if movies like Ponyo and [Rec] are tossed around like self-fullfilling prophecies. The distributors think that those movies are nothing for the market, so they don’t care about them. Nothing else is in the cinema so we go to movies like Shrek 4 (because a movie like Fantastic Mr. Fox is only playing in 3 theatres) and a year later, when everyone who wants to see those movies has already downloaded the movie in High Definition, the movie gets released, the people who wanted to see it and might have taken their friends to it have seen it already and the movie has a short life at the boxoffice, reaffirming the studios that they just need to throw Step Up THREEE DEE at us and we’ll be content….

Wow, that was a rant..

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