It seems that Disney is losing its nerve. It has never shied away before from titles that announce that the main character is a woman, but it seems that “The Princess and the Frog” changed all that. The next movie due to come out is about Rapunzel, but instead of using the main character’s name, Disney has decided to call it “Tangled.” (Read more about this here.)
It seems that “The Princess and the Frog” didn’t do nearly as well as expected and the powers-that-be pounced on the use of the word “princess” in the title as the reason for its poor showing. They’re convinced that the title kept little boys from seeing the movie. Funny, I don’t remember any problems with audience identification with “The Little Mermaid,” or, going further back, “Snow White,” “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty.” Granted, the word “princess” wasn’t used in those titles, but the main characters are clearly female and Disney has never seemed to worry about that before.
Has there been a shift in attitude toward all things female these days? Or is there another reason for the “failure” of “The Princess and the Frog”? After all, the main characters are black; you might just as well blame racism for the lack of interest in the movie. Or maybe there’s a prejudice against frogs? The last Disney movie that dealt with a transformation from animal to human was “The Beauty and the Beast,” but maybe a beast is more interesting to little boys than a frog. (Although we all know that little boys like frogs.)
I haven’t seen “The Princess and the Frog,” so I can’t comment on the plot other than to say that it’s a departure from the well-known fable, in which the frog becomes a prince. In “The Princess and the Frog,” the princess becomes a frog. Maybe that just wasn’t appealing to children period. I can’t say.
It could just have easily been the timing. Or the competition. Disney has had a lot of that lately from DreamWorks Animation and Pixar. (I believe that “How to Train Your Dragon” is going to blow Disney out of the water.)
It’s hard to believe that Disney changed the name of “Rapunzel” just because little boys didn’t like it. (Read news and commentary here.) Since when have little boys’ opinions become so important? Personally, I think it’s a mistake to change the name. Audiences identify with the name (especially Mom and Dad, who, after all are the ones who will take the little ones to the theater). “Tangled” has to be one of the lamest titles Disney has ever come up with.
“Tangled” won’t be out until November. Maybe the hype about the name will draw in crowds. Maybe I’m contributing to higher box office stats by writing this post. But the bottom line is, I think that part of the reason for the change in title has more to do with societal attitudes that “boy things” are better than “girl things” and that little boys have more power than little girls. After all, who said that little boys’ opinions are more important than little girls’? Doesn’t Disney care that little girls may not want to see a movie called “Tangled”?