The Incredibles (2004)

Starring: Jason Lee, Holly Hunter, et al.
Director: Brad Bird

Opening Date: November 5, 2004

With the recent Finding Nemo being the most financially successful animated movie of all time it would seem that Pixar (creators of the Toy Story movies, Monsters Inc. and A Bug’s Life) can do no wrong – after all, their five movies have grossed a staggering $2.5 billion at the box office, making it the most successful film studio, picture for picture, of all time.

No wonder they recently felt confident enough to recently sever their connections with Disney in January of this year.

The way it works is that Pixar makes the movies, and Disney distributes them. They finance the films together and split the profits. But Pixar wanted a deal similar to the ones George Lucas have with 20th Century Fox for the Star Wars prequels, namely that Pixar would finance its own films with budgets around $80 million and take 100 percent of the profits, and pay Disney a distribution fee. Disney declined the offer: after all, each Pixar movie makes an estimated $200 million for the Mouse House. Under the new deal Disney would have made less than half of that.

This was probably a bad move for Disney though: the last traditionally animated movie to make any money for them was the 2002 Lilo & Stitch while more recent efforts such as Treasure Planet and Brother Bear bombed at the box office. To make things worse Disney closed down its American animation division and announced that it will make sequels to the Pixar movies it has already distributed – Disney has never made any computer animated movies on its own though and some analysts fear that these sequels will be so bad that they will end up damaging Pixar’s reputation in the eyes of the public who will probably identify the Disney-produced movies with Pixar instead of Disney. (I suppose these analysts have watched rotten straight-to-video Disney sequels such as Peter Pan: Return to Never Land, Stitch: the Movie and the like recently).

Anyway, Pixar still has two upcoming movies under the Disney deal to make and one of them will be The Incredibles, which will be released later this year. The film will be directed by one Brad Bird. Bird is a Pixar outsider best known for his work on the early Simpsons episodes and the 1999 animated feature The Iron Giant.

Iron Giant (produced by Warner Bros.) was an excellent and underrated movie that nonetheless died an early death at the box office – probably because Warner had no faith in the project (the Warner animated division was being closed down as Bird was busy working on the movie!) Will the same fate befall The Incredibles?

After all, no-one is perfect and while many people predicted disaster for Finding Nemo, this just might end up being the same with The Incredibles. Besides also being computer-generated, The Incredibles is a departure for Pixar since (a) it is the first Pixar movie to focus on humans – thus no cutesy creatures and animals for the toy market (in fact The Incredibles seems more aimed at boys than girls) – and (b) Pixar isn’t the only game in town as far as computer-generated (CG) movies are concerned anymore.

Catching on that traditional animated movies’ days may be numbered and cashing in on the public’s fascination with the CG process the whole scene looks positively crowded this year: 2004 sees the release of four entirely digital films - Shrek 2 and Shark Tale from DreamWorks, The Polar Express from Warner Bros., and of course The Incredibles.

Could it be that when The Incredibles’ release date rolls around in November that the public will be fed up with the CG fad?

Update (24 Nov. 2004): Nope, they're not: The Incredibles opened to incredible reviews and even more incredible business, namely $177 million at the U.S. box office in the three weeks since its opening.  Already there's talk of a sequel, but nothing definitive yet. With Disney and Pixar's deal having gone belly up, don't be surprised if the Mouse House brings out an inferior direct-to-video sequel of the kind they've been specialising in lately (Mulan 2 - come on!) one day . . .

Plot Summary for The Incredibles

Mr. Incredible is a superhero; or he used to be, until a surge of lawsuits against superheroes submitted by the people they've saved forced the government to hide them in witness protection programs so they could lead normal, anonymous lives. Now known exclusively by his secret identity, Bob Parr, he lives with his wife Helen, formerly Elastigirl, and their three children Violet, Dash, and Jack Jack. He works as an insurance claims specialist, and he's fed up with his pushy boss and his immoral profession, but his wife's worked too hard to build a normal life for her family to abide his nostalgia for heroism. When Mr. Incredible's offered the chance to play the role of hero again by a mysterious informant, he jumps at the opportunity, but when it turns out to be a trap set by an old nemesis he had a hand in corrupting, the whole family must reveal themselves to save Mr. Incredible and countless innocents.

Trivia about The Incredibles:

  • The first Pixar film to have its main focus on human characters.
  • In the teaser trailer, a small headline at the top of the framed TV Guide on Mr. Incredible's wall reads, "Kevin O'Brien: First Artist on the Moon." Kevin O'Brien is a storyboard artist for the movie.
  • The theme from the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) is used in the previews for this film.

Some sources:

Photo Gallery:

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