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  1. #1

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    Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    "Newsies" is probably the oddest film ever released under the "Walt Disney Pictures" banner.

    The time devoted to post-production was compressed (to the film's considerable detriment) in order to allow the studio to bury the expected embarrassment in the Springtime. And, as expected, the film died a quick death in theatres while gaining little support among critics, except the late and great Gene Siskel who never met a musical he didn't like and who clearly appreciated Disney's attempt to revive the live-action version of the genre.

    Upon reaching VHS, "Newsies" took a strange turn. Expecting very little interest from anyone, Buena Vista priced the title to be sold to video-rental stores, instead of directly to consumers. And, little by little, the title found its audience who not only rented the movie once but became obsessed with it enough to rent it repeatedly, making it the most rented live-action video in Disney history. Audiences, then, went out of their way to buy used copies from the video-rental stores, leading the company to eventually sell the film directly to consumers when it became the most successful live-action Disney video in the company's portfolio.

    Despite this cult following, "Newsies" is still a virtually-unwatchable film. It is simultaneously among my most and least favorite live-action titles that has ever carried the Disney name, so I would like to see the thing fixed since much of it is salvageable, since a stage production is opening this month in New York, and since a re-release to theatres would work well with: new marketing; a 3-D format; new editing; a new sound mix; additional music; new A.D.R.; better focus on the protagonist who is performed by an actor who is now a bankable star; reinstated footage; and, new footage, especially C.G.I. in the form of establishment shots that can let the claustrophobic, but still smashing, production design breathe. (The film's modest $22 million budget achieved sumptuous aesthetics otherwise, especially the director of photography's consistently-evocative use of light that, interestingly, reminds me of Disneyland.)

    Like other Disney franchises, "Newsies" deserves a subtle presence in Disneyland, itself, and not just in the form of a Red Car-centered homage at the California park. Walt Disney was a newspaper boy at the turn-of-the-19th-Century, and the story, characters, and music lend themselves in some ways to the period setting found in his universalized autobiography that is Main Street, U.S.A.

    Of course, if a re-release of a re-edited film to cinemas is planned, a more overt presence in the form of a promotional "Carrying the Banner" ticker-tape parade on Main Street, U.S.A., for example, might do something that Disneyland has rarely done there before in that the fictitious event would support the fictitious setting.

  2. #2

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    I think it's taking off on Broadway on the East coast, so there might be hope. I am really excited for their presence on BVS, I always get giddy when I hear the instrumental loop over in Hollywood. Now I'm going to listen to Christian Bale serenade me all day, thanks!

  3. #3

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    I'm sure my sister would enjoy this and I do enjoy the time period of the film but honestly the news boys show at DCA is plenty enough recognition of the film. Movies like star wars get special edition CG additions and new scenes, movies like Newsies do not.
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  4. #4

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    As I said, the film is virtually unwatchable in its present form, but, like many animated and live-action musicals, particularly those made by Disney, the movie has the potential to be a timeless "evergreen" in that it can stand up to repeated viewing and to enjoyment by future generations. Bear in mind that "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King" were also reissued to theatres with new songs, new footage, 3-D, etc.

    ---------- Post added 03-08-2012 at 12:49 PM ----------

    Incidentally, Walt Disney Theatrical Productions is opening "Newsies" on Broadway for a limited engagement March 15th.

    Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 03-08-2012 at 12:49 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    OK..love the movie have the VHS, DVD and soundtrack and very happy about the Broadway show..spruce it up and re-releaase? maybe. What I'd like to see is the Broadway version expanding to LA or at the very least have a modified show at the Hyperion and get rid of Aladdin.

  6. #6

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    I think "High School Musical" is a chip off the "Newsies" block.

  7. #7

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    Quote Originally Posted by bayouguy View Post
    I think "High School Musical" is a chip off the "Newsies" block.
    Makes sense since Kenny Ortega choreographed both!

    I adore Newsies!! The music is awesome and I love the baby-faced Christian Bale! For a movie which had the music done by Alan Menken and had Kenny Ortega as the director, this movie is hugely overlooked and discredited!


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  8. #8

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    I wouldn't call it un-watchable... I would call it charming. It is a simple, wholesome film that reminds me of older 60s Disney live action films like Summer Magic, etc. Hard to make films that be can described that way that aren't overtly religious or patronizing nowadays. It's not really a great film, but it's a fun movie musical!

    A rerelease would be cool, but 3D? New footage made in CGI? No thank you! I'm not against bringing back unused footage that was originally on the cutting room floor, if that's what the filmmakers want, or remastering or remixing sound and stuff. But everything you suggested all a once sounds outlandish.
    "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" (John Masefield)



  9. #9

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    The film has numerous fatal flaws (mostly related to post-production) that are all relatively easy to correct. I don't think Harvey Fierstein's book for the Broadway musical is a very good guide, though, because he seems to have compounded many of these problems, instead of fixing them.

    The first is Santa Fe. Most people (including Fierstein apparently) have a hard time understanding this central aspect of the film because the Horace Greeley statue in the square outside The New York World isn't really emphasized (especially in the pan-and-scan versions). The story absolutely depends, though, on the famous and historic quotation emblazoned on the plaque beneath the bronze likeness of the journalist and author: "Go west, young man."

    "Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high. The food is bad. The dust is disgusting, and the morals are deplorable. Go west, young man. Go west and grow up with the country." - Horace Greeley

    The closing of the American frontier, Manifest Destiny, and the antithesis of New York that Santa Fe embodies are fundamental. And, the iconic quality of the larger-than-life "Jack Kelly" is derived from this complexity.

    An interstitial shot of Kelly as he awakens in the boarding house is also necessary to make the money that is at the crux of the film real for audiences. They need to see that Kelly has meager savings, which he has stored somewhere under, on, or in his mattress in order for all the subsequent action in the story to resonate.

    There are several other small changes that, if undertaken, could make a really big difference to the way the thing hangs together.
    Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 03-11-2012 at 04:06 AM.

  10. #10

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    Quote Originally Posted by StrikeYerColors View Post
    It is a simple, wholesome film that reminds me of older 60s Disney live action films like Summer Magic, etc. Hard to make films that be can described that way that aren't overtly religious or patronizing nowadays. It's not really a great film, but it's a fun movie musical!
    I think the current zeitgeist is also much more supportive of something like "Newsies" now. The subject matter of the film encapsulates so much: political corruption, especially due to moneyed interests controlling public policy and manipulating public officials; broad income disparity; consolidation of media outlets; rampant use of propaganda; price fixing, collusion, and other anti-competitive practices; child labor (globalization); slave labor (globalization); immigration; unfair trade imbalances; undue exploitation of human capital; consumer debt and the inability among many to save and invest; unions; consumer boycotts; strikes; Wall Street; K Street; Main Street, U.S.A.; Teddy Roosevelt; Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Barack Obama; urban vs. sub-urban; sub-urban vs. rural; pollution; sprawl; the decline of trains and trolleys; the post-war rise and fall of the middle class; deficient health care; socioeconomic segregation; concentrations of poverty; tenements, slums, and homelessness; mafia, gangs, and crime; orphaned generations; substance abuse, addictions, and compulsions; financial regulations and the Great Depression; Credit-Default Swaps, the Great Recession, and modern-day robber barons; the role of New York City within the United States; the Arab Spring; Tiananmen Square and the subsequent rise of China; civil rights and civil liberties; the Voice of the People; the Power of the Press; the decline of newspapers; the democratizing nature of the Internet; the compromising of journalistic integrity and credibility; rapid urbanization; the formation of mega-regions that are paradoxically creating both greater wealth and greater poverty; corporate governance; shareholder activism and Disney's own shareholder revolt of 2003; and, the rejection on some level of rugged individualism for a renewed sense of community and community service.

    "Newsies" is actually more timely, relevant, and "newsy," now than it was when the movie was first released, but these important themes are explored better through the prism of history and through the romance of a musical melodrama.

  11. #11

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    The show over in New York is selling VERY well! It's strange how this flop-of-a-film is really picking up some momentum in the form of a Broadway show! Impressive, really!

    For Disney parks to pick this up would be very exciting, but very unlikely. I know I would be in favor of a street show in DCA.

    They are streaming some songs from the OBC Recording on Facebook if you are interested.

    Newsies - Theatre - New York, NY | Facebook

  12. #12

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    Re: Making "Newsies" a Franchise

    I have special hate for Newsies in my heart. I worked at Hollywood Video in the early 2000s, and every day we took turns picking a movie to play on our display tv up front. Since it was work, it was ONLY allowed to be a Disney movie (later, finally expanded to any G rated movie). A girl that worked there would pick Newsies. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. We finally hid the movie from her, and she got upset, then said "That's not even fair to our guests, what if someone wants to rent Newsies and now they can't find it"

    Me:"That situation has never happened Becka, no one likes Newsies or wants to rent it. In all my time here, not once have I heard the words "I want to watch Newsies, where can I find it?"

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