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BURBANK, Calif. (CAP) - A soft opening for Disney's A Christmas Carol has jeopardized the company's planned slate of creepy animated movies nobody really wants to see, says one Disney executive who declined to be named.
"We had planned to roll out two or three of these a year," explained the executive, citing Disney's The Nutcracker, Disney's Johnny Tremain and Disney's Little Lord Fauntleroy as just three of the many creepy stop-action animation projects based on old, boring stories they have currently in the works. "This has us rethinking everything."
The $200 million Christmas Carol, featuring Jim Carrey in 15 different roles, grossed about $35 million its opening weekend - enough to grasp the No. 1 spot at the box office, but much less than expected. People who did see it noted in particular the way Scrooge's ultra-realistic wrinkly and pockmarked skin contrasted with his glassy, dead eyes.
"I don't think I'll ever sleep again," said Sally Marples of Kannapolis, N.C., whose children left the theater in tears.
But director Robert Zemeckis defended the film and the stop-action animation technique he helped develop. "It took many years and millions of dollars, but I feel like we've finally perfected a method for reproducing in animation everything that makes humans human, except for the non-creepy parts," he said.
As for choosing to do A Christmas Carol, which has already been made into a feature film more than 50 times, Zemeckis noted that "audiences have never seen it like this before. You know, creepy."
But Zemeckis' recent films have been blasted by some critics, with the New York Observer's Rex Reed noting that "Back To The Future wasn't creepy at all, Forrest Gump was vaguely creepy, but watching A Christmas Carol made me feel like my skin was crawling with bedbugs.
"I can't wait to see what his Johnny Tremain looks like!" he added, possibly sarcastically.
It sounds, though, like Reed and others hoping for more Carol-style animation from Disney may be waiting a while, with the company also rethinking its plans for creepy stop-action versions of Ivanhoe and Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm, the latter with Ellen Degeneres playing all the roles, even the men.
"I'm not sure how we could have miscalculated the public interest in this type of thing," admitted the executive, who added, "Luckily, we have at least six movies about flatulent chickens that can take their place in the pipeline at a moment's notice."
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