February 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 71  

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Disney counting on a Miracle with the Ducks

Thrust n' Perry
Dan Perry

News Editor

Walt Disney’s newest feel-good family movie, Miracle — based on the Americans “Miracle on Ice” victory at the 1980 Olympic Games — is a disgusting cash grab, one that even an open-minded, hockey-loving bloke like myself can have no shame in prejudging.

Simple economics (and maybe a conspiratorial imagination) can explain how a little marketing sense and a good political climate allows entertainment giants like Disney to get away with romanticizing history, not as a cultural product, but rather a capitalist enterprise.

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Disney’s Stanley Cup finalists from a year ago, sit 12 points out of a playoff spot. Their pretty boy superstar, Paul Kariya, took a pay cut and left town to join the Colorado Avalanche.
But that’s not the only reason Disney needs Miracle: The Ducks have been on sale for nearly a year now, and no buyers have shown interest in the team.

Since Sept. 11, American patriotism has been rabid and there’s little doubt Miracle will be a success. Barring a catastrophic box office result, Disney will score a huge marketing coup. They’ll not only have a hit movie, they’ll also have an extended commercial to increase attendance for their hockey team.

I’m setting a double standard, though. Like any good Canadian, if the 1972 Summit Series was made the subject of a feature film, I’d probably be first in line to see it. Keeping that in mind, though, the Summit Series is an event etched on the average Canadian’s consciousness.

Comparatively, the re-presentation of the “Miracle on Ice” has only one goal: to bring the few Americans that can look past baseball, basketball and football back to the rinks. Goal B, no doubt, is to sucker Canadians into going and seeing another botched hockey flick. I mean, it’s about hockey so of course we’ll eat it up.

What happens when Disney’s hockey-related merchandise starts selling again? Not only can Disney sell the Ducks, but also the good ol’ U.S. of A. When Disney’s hockey marketing revenue goes up, one of two things can happen.

First, the franchise could become profitable again. This is pretty unlikely, considering Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s admission in June 2003 (right after Anaheim made the finals) that whether the Ducks won or not, their value would be unchanged.

Second, the better result for Disney would be that hockey operations begin to look profitable again, perhaps alluring a potential buyer.

It’s been obvious for years that every animated film the company produces isn’t about instilling the “values of family,” but those of consumerism, with each year bringing a new adorable little stuffed toy home for Christmas. This time, they’ve gone too far, rallying around Old Glory like so many American corporations before them and revealing what parents everywhere refuse to see — it’s all about the money.



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