A memo to Disney, re: Hannah Montana nonsense

An aggravated mom questions Disney's motives for saying Hannah Montana's 3D concert film will be a one-week theater release, and then changing its tune.

To: Disney executives
From: Michelle Meyers, an aggravated mom
Re: Your Hannah Montana shenanigans

Cut it out.

Are you intentionally trying to drive us parents crazy with what seems like the latest ploy to squeeze profit out of your youngest and most passionate consumers?

I'm referring to the Hannah Montana 3D concert movie, which you promoted last week as an exclusive seven-day theater release. The film subsequently broke online sales records, sold out in many venues, and sent parents into a frenzy amid concerns they might not get tickets for their excited young tweens. Some had to settle for show times during school hours or well past their kids' bedtimes.

Wallpaper
Wallpaper available for download on the Hannah Montana 3D movie site still says the film will be a one-week theater engagement. Disney

Then, with all of the hassles of finding a decent show time fresh in my memory, I learned that you had extended the one-week run indefinitely "due to overwhelming demand," as the movie site reads.

I know I sound like one of those early iPhone customers who got peeved when Apple dropped the price of device. But your latest move is akin to Lucasfilm putting out a new Star Wars movie for what was supposed to be a one-week run only to change its mind after that week. The passion for Hannah Montana among some young girls is on par with that of science fiction enthusiasts for the Star Wars series.

Perhaps some consumers will be happy about the theater extension. But the whole thing leaves me feeling taken for a fool. Under normal circumstances, the savvy--or even cynical--consumer in me would have been skeptical of the one-week run, and maybe even refused to play into the madness it appears your company created just to boost sales. But hey, when it comes to your kids, parents don't always think straight--but of course you know that.

In fact, we have a long tradition of behaving irrationally when it comes to these sort of things, whether it was Cabbage Patch Dolls, Beanie Babies, or some sort of gender-stereotyping Barbie Doll from the 1960s.

When I asked one of your representatives last week why the film was just running in theaters for a week, my gut told me the real answer was to fuel DVD sales. But I listened, and even quoted the woman as she recited the half-hearted party line, that the one-week run is meant to be more like a concert event.

Now, of course, I wonder if she knew all along the theater release would be extended.

Your press release about the extended "engagement" boasts of the "film's record breaking opening weekend performance as the nation's No. 1 film with an astounding three-day tally of $29 million."

Gee, I wonder why it did so well? Could the advertised limited one-week run have something to do with it?

Mark Zoradi, your president of the motion pictures group, went on to say "Audience reaction for the Disney Digital 3-D presentation of Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert has been so overwhelming that we've decided to extend the film's theatrical run. The extra playing time will give more fans a chance to see their favorite performer in an exciting new way that brings the concert experience to life on the big screen. It will also accommodate those fans who want come and enjoy the experience again."

Here I must facetiously thank Zoradi for putting consumers' interests first.

When people ask me about why all the mania over Hannah Montana, I explain that not only is the TV show entertaining and the soundtrack, well, catchy anyway--the craze is palatable to parents because Miley Cyrus (who plays Hannah) is relatively down to earth and together. She's sort of the anti-Britney of pop stars.

Then, however, I'm reminded like I was Wednesday, of the company behind her popularity, behind the Hannah Montana clothing line my daughter's been modeling, and behind the DVD that has taught her all of Hannah's dance moves.

I should know better. And yet I'm still left feeling grossed out...and annoyed.

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About the author

Michelle Meyers, associate editor, has been writing and editing CNET News stories since 2005. But she's still working to shed some of her old newspaper ways, first honed when copy was actually cut and pasted. When she's not fixing typos and tightening sentences, she's working with reporters on story ideas, tracking media happenings, or freshening up CNET News' home page.

 

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