The BLOGFlume—Three Simple Questions

Lemony Snicket thoughts, Disney financial changes, and the future of Marine World...

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: December 12, 2004 at 8:51 PM

Is Snicket Unfortunate?

I had an opportunity to catch a preview screening of the much anticipated adaptation of “Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events”. I have still not had an opportunity to read the books by Daniel Handler, but found the movie very accessible, much like the Harry Potter movie series. My wife has read the books, and found some discrepancies between the books and movie, but most of the content is presented without changes. The story follows the three Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus, and Sunny), and their strange journeys that result from the untimely death of their parents in a house fire. The evil Count Olaf wants to gain custody of the children so that he can collect their sizable inheritance. What makes this movie so entertaining is the performance of Jim Carrey. I know there are a lot of people who really don’t like the shenanigans of Jim Carrey, but playing the role of Count Olaf and his numerous disguised characters is simply amazing. I can’t think of anyone else who could play the role with such prowess. Every one of his characters is distinct, and when he is not on screen, you feel that something is missing. Meryl Streep also provides a solid performance as a paranoid widow who takes guardianship of the three Baudelaire children. The child actors are also very good, with an especially excellent performance from Emily Browning. The movie does have a bit of a dark look to it, and may not appeal to the youngest of children, much like Harry Potter. It also doesn’t have the happiest of stories (which should be clear from the name), or the whimsy and wonder of Harry Potter. I think Tim Burton might have done a better job directing this film, especially with the customary Danny Elfman score that comes with a Burton directing credit. However, Brad Silberling, whose largest previous credit was the forgettable Casper from 1995, does a decent job weaving an interesting story that plays out a little differently than the books but still keeps much of the plot intact.

Now, you’re probably wondering why a silly movie review leads off a BLOGFlume. Well, for those of you who are new to the site, it has been an ongoing point of interest on what would happen if a theme park created an attraction or a land based on the Lemony Snicket series. The film is presented by Paramount, Nickelodeon, and Dreamworks, so anything that would be based directly on the film conceptualization would most likely be found in a Paramount or Universal park (more likely Paramount though). With Paramount turning more of their movies into theme park attractions (Tomb Raider and Italian Job), could a Lemony Snicket dark ride or haunted house be on the way? The possibilities are nearly endless, but after watching the movie, I would suggest a dark ride. Each room of the ride could recount a scene from the movie, from the first meeting with Count Olaf to the leeches of Lake Lacrimose. I think this could be a sure-fire hit, especially if Jim Carrey could lend some voice work to the attraction. I know everyone here at TPI has an opinion, so what do you think?

Is Disney Cooking Its Books?
Orlando Sentinel 12/12/04

The Walt Disney Company reported an annual operating profit of $534 million, which is a 39% increase over last year. But wait, something’s fishy here. Weren’t there 3 hurricanes that caused park closures and clean-up expenses? As well, other than the recent Incredibles, The Village, and National Treasure, I can’t think of a Disney movie this year that made a significant profit. In reality, the profit margin is one of the weakest performances from Disney since 1980, with an accounting change creating the appearance of greater success. Disney also consolidated its profits by including Hong Kong Disneyland and EuroDisney into its financial statements, which makes comparisons to prior years difficult. The bottom line is that Disney’s report of a 39% profit increase is a bit deceiving. The reality is that while Wall Street may go ga-ga for Disney at Monday morning’s bell, but when analysts break down the final numbers, Disney will still have a ways to go before it regains the success of the 1990’s.

Will Six Flags Ever Buy Marine World?
Times-Herald 12/9/04

While Six Flags is currently in no financial shape to do an outright purchase of Marine World in California, the Vallejo City Council is poised to extend its current deal with the theme park chain to continue to operate the park. The council is betting on Six Flags purchasing the park and assuming its $52 million in debt by 2010. The extended deal allows the city to score nearly $2 million annually while Six Flags gets flexibility to try to find a way to pay off the operating debt and purchase the park. If Six Flags does purchase the park, the city would get 2.5 percent of admission revenues (no less than $750,000 annually), which makes this deal a win-win for both sides and fans of the park. While I have never been to Marine World, the park is frequently complimented on being one of the nicer parks in the Six Flags Empire with its lush landscaping and animal exhibits, and hopefully this park will continue to be the gem of the franchise.

Readers' Opinions

From Jason Lester on December 12, 2004 at 10:30 PM
I would love to see a Lemony Snicket dark ride somewhere.
From Derek Potter on December 13, 2004 at 8:23 AM
In one of Paramounts previous guest surveys, they presented a list of ten attractions, along with a description and drawings. One of the better attractions presented was indeed a Lemony Snicket dark ride. I would not be surprised to see one at a Paramount park in the next couple of years. It lends itself almost perfectly to a family oriented dark ride.
From Anthony Murphy on December 13, 2004 at 10:53 AM
I was reading the second part of the three questions and you need to remember that the world has changed from the 1990's when Disney was King. First of all, there is now sizeable competition from other companies now such as Universal and Dreamworks who, because of Shrek and IOA, have shown their worth. Secondly, our econ. is not that good either. People are not going to spend their money on a luxury like Theme Parks. Thirdly, theme parks are appearing to become more dangerous as the world turns in a new direction. There is, of course, the fear of a terrrorist attack at one of the Theme Parks, but there are also hurricanes. Foriegn travelers are the ones really helping the Theme Park business, but Disney, or any other theme park, will not be the same as the 1990's because the world has changed!
From Kevin Baxter on December 20, 2004 at 4:00 AM
Derek, the Lemony Snicket "attraction" wasn't a dark ride, but just a simple behind-the-scenes gallery about the movie itself. With a good opening weekend though, some sort of real attraction might appear on that survey.

As for SFMW, Six Flags has long been angling for the fairgrounds across the road from the park. Vallejo was supposed to be building a new fairground site, which would allow the current fairground site to go on sale. The article makes it sound like Vallejo is allowing someone to build on that land, which would definitely make Six Flags leery of buying the park. Not only do they need room to expand, but they use the fairgrounds parking lot for overflow on busy days.

There is a scheduled meeting between everyone involved, which might clear things up somewhat. Six Flags holds all the cards and can simply say they will never buy the park if they can't get extra land for growth. Vallejo might be able to sell the park to Cedar Fair, but without area for growth, why would they want to buy it? The only hope Vallejo has is to give some of the fairgrounds land to Six Flags to build a huge parking garage on, then their current parking lot can be transformed into a couple new lands.

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