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Moriarty Covers The DISNEY ShoWest Event!!!

Well, Moriarty.... I told ya so. You see folks, Moriarty and I have been arguing back and forth about Disney's TARZAN. I agree with him about the Rosie O'Donnell decoolbrilating effect on the movie which almost threatens to 'gargoyle' TARZAN up like HUNCHBACK.... BUUUUUUUUUT, for me the rest of the film was soooooo STRONG... It doesn't matter. The movie has the potential to dethrone LION KING in my opinion. I wholeheartedly love it, that is why I am so passionate about my hatred for the Rosie character.. It is the shiny penny that breaks the magic spell. BUT this is such a magic spell... it keeps entrancing you. Now... at the same time, there is what this movie could have been, which is the greatest adventure animated work since the Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoons.... Studying Burne Hogarth or Neal Adams.... Playing it straight, becoming the first ILLUSTRATED MOVIE, instead of a cartoon. But... what a cartoon it is. It will be successful beyond expectations. The songs will go triple platinum. The movie is going to work on the public and capture imaginations... And for the few of us that know... it could have been even more. But hey... here's MORIARTY'S coverage....

Hey, Head Geek...

"Moriarty" here.

Well, ShoWest has finally drawn to a close. I say "finally," even though it's actually only been four days. As soon as I am back in the Moriarty Labs, I will download all the information I've gathered into the powerful computer brain of the Labs so I can get all my reports out to you. I still owe you all a write up of the whole Warner lunch, the Tuesday night Awards ceremony, the digital cinema demonstration, and today's Miramax lunch. Tonight, though, I'd like to share with you my impressions of the Disney event, the thing that capped it off for all of us.

Most of the convention has taken place at the Bally's Casino and Hotel, but for this one event, Disney offered buses to everyone that would carry them up the strip to the MGM Grand. I just drove over from my hotel, parked my car, and went inside. It took a little while to find my way around, but I eventually located the Grand Garden Arena, where people were already walking in. I flashed my ticket and made my way into the Arena itself. At first glance, I was underwhelmed by Disney's efforts. The Arena hadn't been decorated at all. You have to understand -- all I've heard all week is that Disney really knows how to spend, Disney really knows how to throw a party, Disney's going to knock your socks off. Well, I would say that I was anything but impressed. I found a seat, settled in for the wait. A half-hour later, after the place was completely packed (this was easily the largest turnout for any event, including Fox's STAR WARS event the night before), the lights went down and Michael Eisner walked out.

He was loose, relaxed, and totally confident as he said that he wasn't going to come until Joe Roth told him what they had planned. Eisner revealed to the crowd that they weren't going to show us any clips for anything tonight. Instead, they decided to show TARZAN in its entirety. He warned the audience that the film is only 80% done, but that they felt it was worth the chance to show it to an audience now since they're so excited about the film and confident in it. With that, Eisner left and the film began.

Now, I reviewed TARZAN about eight weeks ago here on the site as part of my IRON GIANT article. If you look around, you'll find it. At that time, I got a number of e-mails that said, "You saw the wrong cut," or "They've fixed it," or "You didn't see the right film." After seeing it tonight, I can confirm that the print I saw was EXACTLY the same as the print they showed tonight, except that less of it was in color. The story, the characters, the ending... identical. The problems I had with the film still stand. Clayton is a terrible antagonist... he's dull, just some guy who wants to shoot a monkey. Jane's father and Rosie O'Donnell's ape character are deadly unfunny, even though they're the most obvious stabs at comic relief. The musical number in the campsite when Rosie and the other apes launch into a STOMP-style scat singing musical number is still painful in the extreme. The whole film still feels like a collection of moments and not a cohesive whole.

Despite this, let me say that TARZAN is going to be a monster, monster hit. There's a lot that is genuinely good about it. The animation is sensational. Glen Keane's work on Tarzan is just astounding. The backgrounds are lush, dense, and hypnotic. The Phil Collins songs are great. They work a lot like Randy Newman's songs in TOY STORY, providing a counterpoint to what we're seeing, a sort of guiding voice through the film. The opening 30 minutes or so of the film are just fantastic (except for every teeth-grinding moment of Rosie) as Tarzan goes from being a lost baby adopted by Kala to becoming a man, Lord of the Jungle. I applaud the way the film is cut up front, and wish it could have sustained such an exceptionally high level of quality. The crowd around me loved the movie. I am definitely in the minority with my complaints. That's fine. As I said, I expect this to make buckets of cash for Disney, and in many ways they deserve it. I can't help but wonder what this film would have been if the same creative team had worked under Jeffrey Katzenberg. I have a feeling it would be deserving of Disney's favorite overused word -- a masterpiece.

When the film ended, the lights didn't come on. Instead, the screen rose, revealing that there was a band set up onstage. Three drummers, a keyboardist, three guitar players, four backup singers... and Phil Collins himself. He kicked into the first of 10 songs, using the opening music from the film. The crowd came to their feet and went nuts. They were already high from the movie, and seeing Collins live only made them crazier. He played three songs from TARZAN, then launched into seven more songs from throughout his career. Through it all, the crowd stayed on their feet, applauding, cheering, and going crazy.

And it hit me as I sat there... even though I personally was really excited by last night's SW party, Fox and Lucasfilm really, really blew it. They had a chance to make every exhibitor feel involved in STAR WARS. They had a chance to convince them that there is no reason to fear anything regarding the film. They had a chance to throw an event that would have left these people buzzing for months. Instead, Disney has completely stolen their thunder. Oh, sure... we STAR WARS fans are going crazy about the new trailer. After all, it's on TV, it's on the Web... it's everywhere. That's the problem, though. ShoWest is about giving these people something extra. It's about getting them on your team 100%, and Lucas showed them the same trailer and poster that he released to the world less than six hours later. All I heard today was grumbling and grousing from everyone about how much of a non-event the whole Fox thing turned out to be. The exhibitors were actually pissed off at Lucas. I heard the same questions all day: Couldn't John Williams have played more? Couldn't he have played new music? Couldn't the orchestra have performed while new PHANTOM MENACE clips were playing? Couldn't Lucas have brought something that was truly unique? Personally, I am still just trying to soak the whole trailer in. I loved it. But this convention is about the people who will be the final step in putting your film in front of the public, and those are the people who felt burnt. You can bet that when Phil Collins played "I Can't Dance" tonight, no one in that Arena was feeling burnt. They were all jamming the stage, dancing, out of their minds with happiness.

By now, I was convinced that Disney won. Their presentation was clearly the biggest "event" of the week. (The actual biggest event, of course, being the debut of the EYES WIDE SHUT footage) When these people go back to their cinemas around the world, it's Phil Collins' excellent music from the film that will be playing in their heads. When they're gearing up for the summer and decoration their lobbies, it's TARZAN they'll think of first.

Once Collins played 10 songs, finishing with "Sussudio," he thanked everyone and left the stage. The prototypical happy plastic Disney voice came over the PA, inviting us all to dinner in the Grand Convention Center Ballroom. This was a mere 15 hour hike from where we saw the film. I can only imagine what people must have thought when they saw the stream of thousands and thousands of people (literally) surging through the complex. Everyone just got out of the way, let us through. When we reached the Grand Ballroom, I was forced to reassess Disney's comittment again. They whole place was decorated with a strong jungle theme, down to a tiger and a leopard in cages near the door, monkeys and birds inside, and greenery everywhere. We were each given the first CD single from the soundtrack as a gift. With that, Disney turned us loose and fed us well. I used the event to say goodbye to some of the tremendous people I met here -- Steve from St. Petersburg, Helmut and Joaquin from Germany, John from Australia (not Patrick as I wrote last night... told you I was drunk), Jim Kozak (the man responsible for AICN being there, and one hell of a decent guy who just happened to have the best damn hair at ShoWest), David Poland (whose cool mention of this site in Thursday's HOT BUTTON column over at was greatly appreciated), everyone who sat at table S4 for all the Event center functions. I really can't emphasize how gracious and friendly people have been. I hope I have made some genuine friends over the last four days, people I will speak to and see again. It sure felt like it.

Walking around, listening to people, I just kept thinking how smart Disney is. This film is going to explode when it opens. Everyone will see it. No matter what my complaints are, the good outweighs the bad, and most people won't even care about what is bothering me. This is one of their most confident pictures since Katzenberg's departure, and their return should be incredible. There was some concern about my having seen the film until it was pointed out that me reviewing something I've already seen is dull. It was at least two hours before I left the party, and I was one of the last few out. As I walked back through the MGM Grand and realized ShoWest was actually over, I grew very sad. Can't the studios just stay forever and keep showing us goodies and giving us free things and throwing huge lunches for us?

And now, having shared that with you, I must head back to my hotel and begin to prepare for my return journey in the morning. All this travel lately leaves me somewhat discombobulated. I am looking forward to spending my weekend writing those articles and relaxing. I am also looking forward to the next time I'm able to do something like this. I enjoy being your eyes and ears inside these things, everyone. I know we can't all get to ShoWest, but I'd like to pass on the whole experience. If I've done that to any extent, then this whole trip and all the late hours and all the unexpected expenses were worth it. Start looking for the rest of this coverage on Saturday. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • March 12, 1999, 6:01 a.m. CST


    by peekaboo

    My thanks to Moriarty, for a job well done. Your description really gave a feel for the whole convention. Take a few days off when you get back to the labs. You've earned it. Dominating the world can wait a little while

  • March 12, 1999, 6:04 a.m. CST

    Worth It?

    by Walter Burns

    Definately. Many thankks for this - I have enjoyed reading your reports. Re: Disney - Tarzan sounds pretty reasonable, but the songs the songs..... The eternal complaint of the animation fan. Was any mention made at the Diz presentation (or the Miramax one) of the release of Monamake Hime (spelling?) - now THAT is something I'm really looking forwards to - though I'm harbouring 2 fears here - 1) that they will change the movie to make it more 'kid friendly', and 2) that it won't get distributed here in the UK (Kiki didn't). Reassurance on both points would make me very happy!

  • March 12, 1999, 7:10 a.m. CST

    HIghly Enjoyable

    by lynnbracken

    Loved every second of it. If you felt sad when it was over, I felt sad when I finished reading it. Luckily, our AS/400 system is down so I can't work and have been able to spend the morning so far reading up. I can't wait to get the report on the Awards Ceremony. Since you'll be at the labs, you can take your time. Don't leave anything out! I agree that the Fox people should have given more. I'm really surprised. You'd think they would know that Disney could conceiveably kick their butts and really rise to the occasion. Oh well. Not that it changes my high excitement about seeing TPM. But anyway, thanks for the wonderful descriptions. You are a really lucky person.

  • March 12, 1999, 7:32 a.m. CST

    Is that it?

    by JudgeWD

    So you got to see a surprise "premiere" or rather a sneak preview of Tarzan. Great. The movie sounds wonderful and all, and that definitely sounds like a great presentation for the movie... But, why nothing else? Does Disney have NOTHING else on its plater to show the public? Is Trzan the only thing we should expect from them this year? As cool as that movie may be... it sounds like you got a great presentation so they don't have to address any more of their upcoming schedule, if there is anything beyond Tarzan... No Buena Vista releases either? No mention of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Bicentennial Man? Dinosaurs? Nothing on INSPECTOR GADGET? The Sixth Sense? Summer of Sam? 13th Warrior? How about any Pixar related films.. Toy Story 2? These are possible big hits.. some slated for this year, some for next.... Sure would have thought a little info. about these might have been useful, at least in addition to Tarzan.

  • March 12, 1999, 7:55 a.m. CST

    I can understand Lucasfilm/Fox.

    by Pope Buck 1

    The difference between Disney (who went all out with bells, whistles, and "extras" in presenting "Tarzan") and Lucas/Fox is that Lucas/Fox already know that their movie IS the event movie of the summer, and therefore have nothing to prove, while Disney has definite competition from DWorks, Fox, and even (bleah) Warners for their animated product these days. As was pointed out the other night on TV, Lucas has been in a position of WITHHOLDING information about his movie in order to avoid the kind of over-hype that killed "Godzilla." This is so refreshing, when we've all gotten used to knowing every detail about a movie - from the trailers alone! - by the time we walk into the theatre, that the anti-hype has become hype in its own right. Face it, even if Lucas didn't release one more frame of this movie or buy one 30-second commercial spot, he already has the summer in his pocket. What exactly would be served by over-exposing it?

  • March 12, 1999, 8:04 a.m. CST

    I can understand Lucasfilm/Fox.

    by Pope Buck 1

    The difference between Disney (who went all out with bells, whistles, and "extras" in presenting "Tarzan") and Lucas/Fox is that Lucas/Fox already know that their movie IS the event movie of the summer, and therefore have nothing to prove, while Disney has definite competition from DWorks, Fox, and even (bleah) Warners for their animated product these days. As was pointed out the other night on TV, Lucas has been in a position of WITHHOLDING information about his movie in order to avoid the kind of over-hype that killed "Godzilla." This is so refreshing, when we've all gotten used to knowing every detail about a movie - from the trailers alone! - by the time we walk into the theatre, that the anti-hype has become hype in its own right. Face it, even if Lucas doesn't release one more frame of this movie or buy one 30-second commercial spot between now and May 19, he already has the summer in his pocket. What exactly would be served by over-exposing it?

  • March 12, 1999, 8:07 a.m. CST

    Tarzan's first 30...

    by Prankster

    I'm not privvy to any special exhibitor conferences or anything (except SIGGRAPH), I don't have any secret inside sources, I don't know anyone high up in the industry, but I HAVE managed to see a fair amount of Tarzan footage, just by searching the web and other places. And it seems to me...that the first 30 minutes are the LAME part. Li'l baby Tarzan is SOOOOOO annoying, nothing like the stoic fighter we see in the trailer. Phil Collins' music seemed a tad overdone at the point when the Mama ape first discovers Tarzan. And Rosie and Wayne Knight both make their obnoxious entrances. Only Lance Henriksen made me say, "cool". The later part of the movie I haven't seen much of, but he's fighting Leopards and babboons, Swinging through the trees like a maniac, having a love affair with could that be worse than the first 30 minutes?

  • March 12, 1999, 8:45 a.m. CST

    Of course...

    by Evil Dead

    ...Disney was better. They are DISNEY, you know the Undisputed Champions of family entertainment? Of course they put a better show on, but when it comes down to the wire of May 19th it becomes apparently clear who the champion is. Fox and Lucas does not need any extra publicity, they brought themselves and Star Wars. The names alone sell the film.

  • March 12, 1999, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Moriarty, RAMBO 4 and FORMULA ONE???

    by ABking

    Moriarty, was there any promotional posters or anything of that sort at the Miramax bash dealing with RAMBO 4 or FORMULA ONE?

  • March 12, 1999, 9:46 a.m. CST

    will someone explain why rosie o' donnel is so popular

    by spike lee

    Rosie O' Donnel is as funny as cancer, but she still seems to get these great gigs. I cant believe people actually watch her show and find it entertaining. Her only audience is housewives who would find anything amusing, after hearing screaming babies all day. I have seen the show once and all Rosie does is sing about stuff she likes (Donuts and Tom Cruise) who cares what you like you pig. I can just see her interview Stanley Kubrick before he passed. "Hey Stan, how was it to see Tom Cruise nude everyday, and do you like stuffing your face with twinkies like I do?"

  • March 12, 1999, 9:59 a.m. CST


    by DwDunphy

    Disney has no confidence in Tarzan. Here's why. Rather than letting it stand on it's own merits, the movie is coupled with a Phil Collins concert? Isn't that diverting! Plus, no matter how many times the public says, "We're sick of the Disney formula", they throw superstar voices, distracting comic relief and, worst of all, the dreaded musical numbers into every damned film. I am not against musical numbers WHEN DONE RIGHT. Lately however, Disney has shown that it is all just obligatory to them. Lucasfilm has it right, Moriarty. Screw the hype. Let the movie stand on it's own. I'd like to see Tarzan succeed, just to bring animation back to the fore. But this reeks of another dead albatross around Eisner's neck.

  • March 12, 1999, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Harry, Harry, Harry...

    by Uncle Cracky

    after reading the line "...could have been the first ILLUSTRATED MOVIE..." I almost tossed my cookies (Girl Scout Tagalongs, mmmmmmm...). Excuse me? Haven't you heard of a little film called "AKIRA"??? American animation is so far behind it's pathetic. The only decent animated film to come out of an American studio lately has been "Cats Don't Dance." And that was from WARNER BROS., for Pete's sake(hi, Pete)! Disney has no future, no potential, no area to grow into. All it can do is make the same damn films over and over again. Kind of like AC/DC's albums...

  • March 12, 1999, 2:48 p.m. CST

    team rat

    by angel

    so disney pretty much bought you all out...what else is new? disney stole thunder by having the bland phil collins perform 'sususudio' (arguably the worst song of the 80's)? more like stealing a lightning bug...fortunately, disney can give you all the free shit in the world, feed you til you puke, od you on their cheap gifts, but it won't make anybody less excited about 'star wars'--and i'm not even of the slavish geeks who think that 'sw' is the second coming--if people want phil collins and rosie o'donell over john williams and liam neeson, well, the unwashed masses have spoken. a nice report, moriarty, but don't be such a shill for the greediest media conglomerate in the world.

  • March 12, 1999, 5:49 p.m. CST

    To Angel!

    by Walter

    Requoting yourself "The greediest media conglomerate in the world" What are you talking about? True, Swan Princess got killed, Anastasia overshadowed, and Prince nailed, but just consider what those guys want. Fox, Warner, and Dreamworks have no need for producing animation. They're making big bucks with their live action films and Disney doesn't do any harm to those films. They mainly value their animated films and the reputation they've received over the decades. It's necessary for their desire to hold the monopoly over that market. Because if they don't, it will be a likwise threat to the company in the future(Just as Microsoft attempting to block out Netscape-there's no mercy in the business world.) And if you want to talk about greediness, consider Don Bluth and Jeffery Katzenberg wanting to seek vengeance when after leaving Disney. Or speaking of overall studio, again the other guys have no need of making animation when they have good business in live-action flicks, it just makes sense that we should see envy or vengeance going on inside. Disney on the other hand, have been making animated features for 75 years and the premier studio to do so. Therefore, there's no blame for what they do in the animation market. I don't have a problem with your obsession with Star Wars, and you should care less for anyone's gloating of Tarzan because it won't hurt a penny of Fox and Lucas. On the other hand, no one knows just yet whether which movie will make more bucks at the box office, so don't just assume that Tarzan is like nothing against the other just for your sake of obsession with that other one. (Yes, I mean Star Wars).

  • March 12, 1999, 6:02 p.m. CST

    Tom Crowe

    by 6662000 What's your e-mail address? Your mom gave me something that didn't work. Man, I'm wondering if you'll ever find this message. Here's where I find out if you read all the responses you get or just the ones you told Scott to write. Great website, excellent writing on your part. I'm an e-mailing fool, so drop a line. Tell Scott to do the same. You guys don't have to wait until you're rich to catch me up to date. I'm interested in the process more than the end result, which I am certain will be success. I have the faith now: You boys crazy, you boys get there sure.

  • I loved your coverage, Moriarty. But I have to agree with the esteemed Lane Myers that any further infliction of Sussudio could be deadly. Indeed, it may well be the real Phantom Menace. I'm gonna go listen to some Pixies to wash away the terrifying image of Phil Collins in Vegas with all those lost souls and Fulci zombies hitting the dance floor. Heaven or Las Vegas?

  • March 13, 1999, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Star Wars vs. Tarzan? Are we really being serious?

    by Maruku

    The reviewer himself makes a point of illustrating frustration with the many flaws in Tarzan. Meanwhile people are betting each other as to whether or not Star Wars has a chance of making more money than Titanic. And then the reviewer goes on to berate the Star Wars show because the Tarzan show gave away more spoilers. I personally cannot agree with this attitude. I applaud Lucas for not letting everyone know everything about The Phantom Menace months before they can even see for themselves. The fact that Disney seems to need to do the opposite merely suggests to me just how desperate they are to convince people that they actually have something entertaining (for the first half, at any rate) after all these years.

  • March 13, 1999, 3:52 p.m. CST


    by Walter

    Why are some people here ignorantly comparing Star Wars and Tarzan when the two are completey different movies of different genres? The fact that Moriarty was pleased by Disney's offer on Tarzan and the wonderful presentation they kicked off doesn't mean that there is an actually comparison between the two films. He simply suggested that Disney knows how to please some first fans more than Fox and Lucas did, and this is simply just a matter of personal opinions. Sure, come people(including myself) would prefer a movie less shown beforehand for the extra excitement, but maybe an individual like Moriarty was deeply pleased that Disney actually showed the entire film(Tarzan) along with special benefits of merchandise and music, which he believes is a good way of pleasing and getting some first audience acclaim of their product. Disney didn't do this to overhype and gravitate audiences away from Star Wars or any movie in particular. They simply wanted to favor the audience that actually came to the presentation to support their film. Just as they did with the big presentations and massive premiers they threw off with "Mulan" and "A Bug's Life." These special kick-offs are useless for hyping a movie because the amount of audience that shows up there, doesn't get the whole world to go see the movie. On the other hand, Fox and Lucas have no need of hyping Star Wars for they already have a hold of fans out there ready to see any Star Wars movies whether it's good or bad. But in actuality, they are hyping. How can a movie that is announced half a year before it is released and tied in on every broadcast, web, and such media not considered a hype? I'm not going to comment much on Star Wars for I haven't seen the film either have any of you, but I hope you realize the fact that somebody choosing one movie's show premier over the other doesn't mean that it will hurt the other in box office as well as public appeal. Star Wars definitely has a good chance of succeding it's dollars for the overknown name, but that doesn't mean Tarzan won't make a buck. The two are completely different movies, and so there's no reason for audiences to not see both. After all, we still don't know which will dominate more at the box office, so let's not assume that one is already superior to the other. For the individual who said Disney has no future, I'm sad to say that is a very ignorant thing to state. Disney is on course of releasing it's 37th animated film and beyond, together with box office successfuls as well as worldwide audience and critical acclaim. A studio like that is very highly accomplished and successful to its public. Finally, in regards to anyone who finds Disney characters singing very displeasing(Myself included), don't worry. Tarzan is composed of only background music sang by one of the top singers in the industry, Phil Collins. On a personal level, I thought many of Tarzan's song that I've heard are actually very good. And if you totally hate music in an animated film, Atlantis of 2000 has no songs. This proves that Disney is gradually changing its course. Not that all prior Disney films suck, just that Tarzan and so on will be a new treat for anyone who's ever claim to hate the Disney tradition. Let's just wait and view these films before we make any unneccesary criticism.

  • March 14, 1999, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Mr. M, misunderstood. imo

    by fnord

    Greets, just danced on to add me own opinion to the masses. I keep reading comments on how Lucas doesn't need to showcase his movie cause it's gunna be bigger than jesus. But mine eyes were not interpreting Moriarty's postings in that avenue. I think he was simply saying (and rightly so) that the theatre's are the last line before our overly public eyes scan in history at 24fps; that theatre owners are more than just fans, they are an intregal part of the whole process. And in that vein, I agree that meybe the theatre owners should be made to feel like part of the family, instead of just the mailprojectors. But, y'know, that's just my opinion. Thanks fer the postings Moriarty; they were entertaining and informative. Wish I wuz there.

  • July 12, 2006, 7:50 a.m. CST

    The lion king would quicjkly devour Tarzan.

    by Wolfpack

  • July 14, 2006, 8:05 a.m. CST

    Gaaak! Spelling!

    by Wolfpack