So… Are you wondering what Disney’s Pixar film about Dia de los Muertos will be all about? I know I am. My Facebook feed was flooded today with astonished / angry / bemused friends who found out that Disney filed a trademark application for “Dia de los Muertos,” which included Goods & Services in a variety of items like education and entertainment services, cereals, cosmetics and a whole bunch of other merchandise. You can read the list HERE.
I too raised an eyebrow at the notion of Disney trademarking a cultural and religious celebration, I mean, is that even possible? Can you trademark a cultural tradition like that? Is that legal?
But I also wanted to do a bit of research behind the actual concept of this film. Turns out that Pixar released some information in April of 2012 during CinemaCon and announced that the dynamic duo behind “Toy Story 3,” director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson would be the team behind this animated feature.
Last year, the LA Times also cited that Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” was the highest-grossing movie of all time in Mexico, collecting $59 million at the box office in 2010, more than megahits like “Avatar” and the “Harry Potter” finale.
I mean, who didn’t love the Spanish-Flamenco dancing option for Buzz Lightyear?!
Seeing all the posts on this potential “Dia de los Muertos” trademark, and even Latino Rebels idea of trademarking “4th of July” in response, I was reminded how fast people reacted towards Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” and how quick some were to judge it. Jezebel pointed out 5 Possible Problems with The Princess and the Frog before the film even came out, and yet that write up was pretty tame compared to others I saw online.
While we don’t know the details of the story plot or the depth of the characters, what we do know is that “Dia de los Muertos” is a sacred holiday for many in the United States and Latin America. It’s not something superficial nor is it something scary that deals with death from a Western point of view; but rather “Dia de los Muertos” is a celebration of the life of individuals who have passed on. I’ve written about it before.
Disney and Pixar recognizing there is growth and opportunity in culture, especially after the incredible success of the Scottish-based Brave (not to mention Pocahontas and Mulan), was only a matter of time.
In fact, after a quick search, I learned that Disney has been a sponsor to The Smithsonian’s Day of the Dead Ballgame Tournament:
The Day of the Dead Ballgame Tournament, sponsored by the Walt Disney Company, is based on the first organized, ancient Mesoamerican sport played almost 3,500 years ago, using a rubber ball. The ball game will take place at the Ballcourt of the Sun located in the music island of the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum.
and a sponsor to Los Angeles based Self-Help Graphics Dia de los Muertos Celebration:
Self Help Graphics & Art’s 39th Annual Día de los Muertos is made possible by our artists, volunteers, and board of directors with sponsorship from The Walt Disney Company…
In fact, Disney has been doing Day of the Dead stuff for years! THIS beautiful photo was taken in 2009!
Hmmmm. So, I guess it was just a matter of time?
Well, as Latino Rebels points out, after a whole day of social media frenzy and petitions from both Presente and Change.org , Disney withdrew it’s trademark application of “Dia de los Muertos,” and stated,
As we have previously announced, Disney-Pixar is developing an animated feature inspired by the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos. Disney’s trademark filing was intended to protect any potential title for our film and related activities. It has since been determined that the title of the film will change and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark filing.
Now the question truly is… what’s the animated film all about?! Hopefully it’s better than Dreamwork’s “The Road to El Dorado.” Who remembers THAT epic fail of a film centered around the New World? Yikes. Problems beyond problems, from story line and character development to total insensitivity towards beliefs and culture. =(
I hope Disney-Pixar has the right people in place to help with some of the important plot and character development aspects of this film (cough! cough! ahem!)
Here’s some artwork released by Pixar of this “Dia de los Muertos” animated film… seems cool… maybe a coming of age story where the dad/grandfather whose passed (based on the photo at the altar) comes back to help a young child / teenager find his / her way through an issue and therefor reconnecting with family and traditional values… hmmm… could be good! Please have the kids side companion be a dog that’s not a chihuahua! A nice big ol’ German Sheppard or Pit Bull would be cool!