Disney has been a winning stock in 2014, and it has cleaned up on “Frozen” which is sure to have a sequel, as well as making the winning acquisition of the Star Wars franchise. Disney has been able to share its success with shareholders, and has recently increased its dividend by 34%. While there are a few skeptics, there is no question that 2015 will be a huge year for Disney with its pipeline of potential blockbusters.
Disney knows its audience well, and seems well aware that kids today are a bit too sophisticated for the traditional “happily ever after” fairy tales. The simplistic bedtime stories of yesteryear can still be told and shown, but with an edgy undercurrent that also appeals to kids. “Oz, ” “Great and Powerful” and “Malificent” are signs of this trend, along with Rob Marshall’s cinematic take on Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods, ” which is having a Christmas release. Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” is an award winning musical that explores the darker roots to fairy tales, in versions that wouldn’t be suited to a bedtime storybook. Interestingly, his macabre and moving “Sweeny Todd” (a non Disney film) about a persecuted man in Victorian England turned storied barber and throat slasher also saw its film premiere on Yuletide. No small irony in adding a darker note to the general holiday kitsch.
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Malificent has grossed an impressive $757 million so far this year, and Disney is planning on releases of “Cinderella” and the “Jungle Book” in 2015. No doubt, given the trend, these won’t be simplistic, sentimental rehashes of old favorites, but will have a unique edge that should bring Disney more success.