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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Marvel Movies Box Office Battle on National Superhero Day

by Ray Keating
April 28, 2020

Today, April 28, is “National Superhero Day.” And on this date, it seems fitting to get into one of those arguments many of us engaged in as kids. You know, who is the best superhero? This superhero could beat up this other superhero. Oh, yeah? And so on. 

Except we’re going to narrow our fighting words, so to speak, to how powerful the various Marvel Cinematic Universe’s superheroes have been at the box office. Where do Disney’s MCU movies rank in terms of the amount of revenue raked in at the box office? 

The answer can be found in the following table, which ranks each of the 23 Marvel movies (so far) according to the estimated worldwide box office numbers in 2019 inflation-adjusted U.S. dollars.

Rank – 
Real Box Office
Release Date
MCU Film
Worldwide Box Office – 
Estimated in Real 
2019 US Dollars
Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Infinity War
The Avengers
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Black Panther
Iron Man 3
Captain America: Civil War
Captain Marvel
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Thor: Ragnarok
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Iron Man 2
Doctor Strange
Thor: The Dark World
Iron Man
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Incredible Hulk
Source: Data from the-numbers.com. Calculations by author.

I guess no one should be surprised by the fact that The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have proven to be mightiest at the box office.

Of course, what a ranking like this leads to is the inevitable “Yeah, but...” debate. In particular, yeah, but this doesn’t mean that this ranking necessarily reflects a ranking of the best MCU films. Let that debate begin! I’ll start by noting that I think that the top five MCU movies (not necessarily in order) are: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

And thankfully, there are more Marvel movies on the way to add to the incredible box office tally – in 2019 dollars, the MCU films have earned a total of $23.9 billion, so far – and to spice up the debate about which are the best and worst movies in the series.

And if you’re looking ahead, here’s the latest announced Marvel universe movies with scheduled release dates (according to Disney and various media reports):

Black Widow – November 6, 2020
The Eternals – February 12, 2021
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – May 7, 2021
Spider-Man 3 – November 5, 2021 
Thor: Love and Thunder – February 11, 2022
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness – March 25, 2022
Black Panther II – May 6, 2022
Captain Marvel 2 – June 8, 2022
Ant-Man 3 – no date announced
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 – no date announced

Enjoy, and happy National Superhero Day!

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution (now available at a deep discount) and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

National Superhero Day is the perfect time to read Ray Keating’s HEROES AND VILLAINS: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT SHORT STORY. The Kindle edition is on sale for only $2.99!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Celebrate “National Princess Week” With Your Favorite Disney Princess - Official or Not

by Beth Keating
Feature Story 
April 27, 2020

The last week of April is officially “National Princess Week,” a week to celebrate the princesses in your life and “to encourage little princesses to play the part.” Perhaps livening up your quarantine days by throwing a themed princess party is in order. You can decide for yourselves if that happens to require lots of pink frosting, tea cups, seashells, bows and arrows, beignets or snowmen.

Hold on to your tiara, though: Don’t break out the Frozen soundtrack just yet. I have some shocking news for you. Arendelle’s Anna and Elsa are not considered “official” Disney princesses and are not part of the Princess Royal Court (insert screeching brake noises here!). How can that be?  After all, they are both daughters of King Agnarr and Queen Iduna of Arendelle. For good measure, they’ve brought in a boatload of coin to Disney’s realm, as expected of any good Disney princess. 

Why didn’t the Queens of Arendelle make the cut? They have been given formal welcome ceremonies at Disney World, and even host a sing-along at Hollywood Studios, give tours of Arendell at their ride-through in Epcot, and welcome visitors to the hour long meet-and-greet line at their Royal Sommerhus. They are obviously popular. But they have not yet been crowned as part of the official Princess Royal Court. Did you even know there was such a sanctioned list?

Originally, there were eight “official” Disney princesses included in Disney’s Royal Court: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan. There are currently twelve “official” princesses, though.  In order, they are:

1. Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)
2. Cinderella (Cinderella)
3. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
4. Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
5. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
6. Jasmine (Aladdin)
7. Pocahontas (Pocahontas)
8. Mulan (Mulan)
9. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
10. Rapunzel (Tangled)
11. Merida (Brave)
12. Moana (Moana)

In recent times, Disney even hosted public coronation ceremonies when Tiana (Princess #9), Rapunzel (Princess #10) and Merida (Princess #11) earned membership on the Princess roster (they haven’t held a ceremony for Moana (Princess #12) yet – she “joined” in 2019). Tiana’s 2010 coronation ceremony took place in New York City (why not New Orleans?); Rapunzel’s 2011 ceremony took place at Kensington Palace(!); and Merida’s (2013) happened at Disney World.  Interesting factoid for you, and one which muddies the discussion, is that Tinkerbell, a mere leader of fairies, had a short-lived reign on the list until Tiana bumped her off the scroll.

In contrast to the Queens of Arendelle, two of Disney’s “top tier” heroines who ARE on the official list are Pocahontas and Moana … daughters of chiefs, but not necessarily “princesses” in the strictest sense of the word. Yet, they get the proverbial, if not physical, tiaras. Moana even insists she isn’t a princess, but Maui retorts, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, then you’re a princess.”

What about Princess Leia, now that Disney owns the Star Wars franchise? Is she disqualified because she isn’t an animated character? Avatar is now a Disney property in the Animal Kingdom – does James Cameron’s Neytiri, princess of the Na’vi, join the royal court?  There’s also Meg from Hercules. Pardon my literature background for a moment, but Meg is technically a princess twice-over, being the daughter of King Creon of Thebes in Greek mythology. She also marries Hercules, son of the king of the Greek gods, so – yikes – double princess pedigree. Princess Kida, the daughter of the king of Atlantis in Atlantis: The Lost Empire rescues her people, just like Moana …. and Merida… and Mulan. Do these ladies get to hang out in the princesses lounge as well?  (There has to be a special princess lounge hidden away at the parks somewhere.  If not, the Imagineers might want to get on that while they are reconstructing half of Epcot.)

What, then, is the criteria for becoming a Disney princess? Do you have to have an invitation to host one of the Disney character meals at Disney World?  If so, then only Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Ariel and Jasmine at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall qualify, though some of those same royalty share meals at Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Rapunzel and Ariel host a Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast with their princes at Trattoria al Forno at the Boardwalk. (Sofia the First sneaks in at the Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine at Hollywood and Vine, so that blows that theory on me.) 

If you go to an official Disney site (https://princess.disney.com/), the princesses to choose from there are the official twelve: Belle, Rapunzel, Ariel, Tiana, Moana, Cinderella, Aurora, Merida, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Mulan and Snow White.  (They have their special crafts and activities there for your own little princess to enjoy.) HOWEVER, if you click the Disney+ link there to the “Disney Princesses collection,” it takes you to a series of movies that include Anna and Elsa in Frozen, and even Elena of Avalor, a new entry to the cannon from the Disney Junior channel. (Perhaps she’s not a full-fledged princess because she only has a TV series and not a full-length movie?)  Then, oddly, the link also includes Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway (Princess Mia of Genovia) in The Princess Diaries, along with Princess Rosalinda of Costa Luna (played by Demi Lovato) with Selena Gomez in the Princess Protection Program.  So, they’ve called them princesses, but they aren’t on the “official” court list.  No animated avatar, perhaps?

Now that Disney owns 21st Century Fox, what becomes of Russia’s Grand Duchess Anastasia, the poor missing Romanov heir.  She’s royalty, but perhaps she’s outside looking in at the official castle because her 1997 animated film Anastasia was directed by Don Bluth, who jumped ship from Disney before starting his own studio. Oops.

Maybe the princesses themselves offer us a glimpse of the resume requirements.  In Ralph Breaks the Internet (Wreck it Ralph II), they quiz Venellope as to her princess qualifications:

Rapunzel: Do you have magic hair?
Vanellope: No.
Elsa: Magic hands?
Vanellope: No.
Cinderella: Do animals talk to you?
Vanellope: No.
Snow White: Were you poisoned?
Vanellope: No!
Aurora, Tiana: Cursed?
Vanellope: No!
Rapunzel, Belle: Kidnapped or enslaved?
Vanellope: No! Are you guys okay? Should I call the police?
Ariel: Then I have to assume you made a deal with an underwater sea witch, where she took your voice in exchange for a pair of human legs?
Vanellope: No! Good Lord, who would do that?
Snow White: Have you ever had True Love’s Kiss?
Vanellope: Ew! Barf!
Jasmine: Do you have daddy issues?
Vanellope: I don’t even have a mom.
Princesses: Neither do we!
Rapunzel: And now for the million dollar question. Do people assume all your problems got solved because a big strong man showed up?
Vanellope: Yes! What is up with that?
Princesses: She is a princess!

Turns out (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie) Vanellope IS actually a princess, though not one of THE princesses, but she had her memory wiped and doesn’t remember her royal status. In the end, she decides she’d rather be called president.

Of course, while we often assume that a princess character should be born of royalty (Snow White, Ariel, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Merida, and Aurora), or married to royalty (Cinderella, Belle, or Tiana), some of the girls reach princess-hood by virtue of an act of heroism (Mulan, Moana, and Pocahontas).  Since there is no official roster of criteria for being one of the “Royal Court” princesses, we’ll leave you to decide what you think the true criteria is.

Now, I’ve probably buried the lead way down here at the bottom, and if you don’t want me to take the glitter off of your princess week celebration, stop reading right here.  The first National Princess Week?  It was started by Disney in partnership with Target, April 22, 2012. Julie Andrews (Queen of Genovia) was there to help kick-off the celebration, and the Princess Diaries DVD promptly went on sale.

I think I’m going to go watch The Little Mermaid now. I’ll look for my tiara later.

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

April 26 is National Pretzel Day – Make a Mickey Pretzel at Home!

by Beth Keating
April 25, 2020

Of all the iconic treats that Disney fans crave, Mickey pretzels are right up there near the top. On April 26th, celebrate National Pretzel Day and bring home a bit of Disney magic by making your own version of this classic park prize.

The recipe for an actual Mickey pretzel hasn’t been published by Disney, but they have provided the version that is available at the Germany Pavilion at Epcot. So, while this recipe is authentically “Disney,” you just need to create your own “mouse” silhouette. Break out the mustard for dipping, or melt down some of your own cheese sauce for dunking. Add a few Mickey shorts on Disney+, and pretend you’re riding on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway while you are at it.  We won’t judge… you’ve been locked in the house for a while. We get it. Whip up a batch of Disney snacks and have at it.

Credit to the Disney Food Blog for this recipe. 

Authentic German Soft Pretzels From Epcot’s Germany Pavilion
Yield: 10 pretzels

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
coarse salt
prepared mustard (optional)

1. Stir and dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl.
2. Stir in salt, sugar, and 2 cups of flour.
3. Beat until smooth.
4. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.
6. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
7. Cut dough into 3 oz pieces and roll into a ball.
8. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
9. Roll out dough into strings and then twist dough pieces in the middle.
10. Pick up the dough string with two hands each hand holding one end.
11. Attach the ends to the dough in a pretzel shape.
12. Place pretzel on a baking sheet and allow to proof until pretzels doubles in thickness.
13. Whisk the eggs with water.
14. Brush egg wash on top of pretzel after they have proofed.
15. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
16. Put on to baking sheets and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.
17. Dip in prepared mustard if desired.

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Ray Keating Talks Some Star Wars, Among Other Topics, in PRESS CLUB C Podcast #2

PRESS CLUB C Podcast with Ray Keating – Episode #2: Don’t Waste Your Vote, More Star Wars, Picard – Good or Bad?, Coronavirus Divisions, and NFL Draft Observations – Ray Keating is on a roll in this second episode. First, he wants to know why voting according to your conscience is considered a bad thing? He also gets his sci-fi nerd on with Star Wars and Picard. Keating is annoyed by coronavirus politics, but he also is enjoying the NFL Draft, including what the Jets, Packers and Vikings did in the first round.

Tune in here or click on graphic above.

Friday Night: D23’s “Disney Wild Kingdoms” Panel Streaming with Imagineer Joe Rohde

by Beth Keating
April 24, 2020

Disney’s Animal Kingdom, opened in 1998, is more than just a fourth thrill ride gate at Florida’s Disney World complex. It’s also home to more than 250 species of animals, and this week is their moment to shine as Disney celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and the 25th anniversary of the Disney Conservation Fund. 

Disney has lots of activities in store, even if we can’t be there in person, and D23, the official Disney fan club, will be hosting a panel with legendary Imagineer Joe Rohde on Friday, April 24th, at 7PM ET, on its website and on Facebook and YouTube.

Animal Kingdom’s 500 acres is home to more than 1700 animals, and through the Disney Parks Blog and #DisneyMagicMoments, you can learn more about how Disney cares for its animals, including meeting a few of the new babies born at the Kingdom. One of these adorable new creatures is Asha, a Hartmann’s Mountain zebra who took her place on the savannah of Kilimanjaro Safaris this week.

You can also enjoy a series of Wilderness Explorers at Home shorts on the MyDisneyExperience app, or, over on the Disney Channel, some National Geographic collaborations about animal care at Disney and a variety of wildlife conservation efforts. The DisneyNOW app also has an extended version of the shorts. NatGeo@Home is offering an Earth Day Neighborhood Safari activity for families hanging out at home these days, including daily talks with real life Nat Geo Explorers. Disney+ has three new Disneynature films for you, including ElephantDolphin Reef, and Penguins.

As for D23 Friday night streaming event, Disney fans know Mr. Rohde as the man behind much of the magic at Animal Kingdom. His worldwide travels were responsible for a considerable amount of the intricate detailing that makes Animal Kingdom so amazing. 

Again, D23’s “Disney Wild Kingdoms” panel will be streamed on Friday, April 24th, at 7PM ET on D23’s official website, as well as on their Facebook and YouTube channels.  

Host Kevin Kern from the Walt Disney Archives, along with Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz, producers of Disneynature’s Elephant, and Roy Conli, producer of Tangled and Disneynature’s ElephantDolphin Reef, and Penguins will be joining Mr. Rohde to talk about the conservation efforts undertaken at Animal Kingdom, as well as the impact of Walt Disney’s documentary films, Disneynature films, and Disney’s animated depictions of nature. 

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Thursday Night: “Cory Meets World” Interview with Disney Legend Tom Nabbe

by Ray Keating
April 22, 2020

At 8:00 PM EST on Thursday (April 23) night, the “Cory Meets World” vlog will air a live interview with Disney Legend Tom Nabbe.

This looks like it will be an evening well spent, with an official Disney Legend inductee being interviewed on this engaging vlog featuring Cory and Stephanie.

The “Cory Meets World” YouTube channel reports the following about Nabbe: 

Tom was at opening day of Disneyland and the next day was hired as a “newsie,” hawking The Disneyland News to Main Street guests. In 1956, Walt Disney recognized the Tom Sawyer in a young Nabbe, and he became the “Luckiest Boy in the World.” That’s what the cover of the April 7, 1957 issue of Parade Magazine said, beneath a full-color photo of Tom dressed as Mark Twain’s paragon of American boyhood. One job requirement was that Tom had to keep a C average in school. So, every quarter, Tom brought his report card directly to Walt for inspection. 

In 1971, Tom was transferred to the newly opened Walt Disney World in Orlando, where he started as manager of the Monorail. He also helped in the opening of Disneyland Paris. 

Forty-eight years later, in June 2003, 60-year-old Tom retired from his job as manager of distribution services at Walt Disney World. He was the last working member of Club 55, a group of original Disneyland cast members named for Disneyland’s inaugural year and for their chief qualification of membership—a paycheck from Walt Disney dated 1955. 

Shortly after his retirement, Tom received the highly selective honor of having his name on one of the windows down Main Street at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. 

In 2005, he was inducted as a Disney Legend during a ceremony that took place at Disneyland.

Okay, count us in!

In addition, “Cory Meets World” offers some merch and you can subscribe to their YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solution (now available at a deep discount) and the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.