Pixar Animation's eagerlyawaited Cars screened at ShoWeston Tuesday night to a mixed reception from industry delegates.
The tale of a hip, rookieNASCAR-style racer that winds up shanghaied in a small town and learnsimportant life lessons is one of the most anticipated summer releases. It opensin June through PIxar's new parent company Walt Disney Studios.
The crowd of theatre ownersand such luminaries as rival Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks Animation wereprimed for a potent experience based on Pixar past efforts that have included ToyStory, Finding Nemo and TheIncredibles. The bar was certainlyset high and response ran the gamut from those that found it emotionally potentto others that could not contain their disappointment.
Animator John Lasseterintroduced the screening and made no secret about his very personal connectionto Cars. His father was an autoparts dealer and he made the film to embrace his passions for things vehicular(its characters are all automobiles), cartooning and family.
The film is unquestionablythe most sentimental of the company's movies. Several attendees admitted to betaken aback by the film's old-fashioned values while others were genuinelytouched by its nostalgia for small town values. There was little question thatmost attendees expected the film to have the irreverent humour that'shighlighted past efforts and found its predictable story arc slow andantiquated. There were mentions of such films as Doc Hollywood and The Majestic as templates for the animated outing.
Regardless of individualresponses, there appeared to be a dominant feeling that the picture would notplay to all segments of the audience that's been the hallmark of Pixar'sprevious successes. However, even there, the analysis of the picture's targetappeal was divergent, with most believing it would work best with very youngviewers and others identifying it as having appeal to an older audience.
Katzenberg bolted thescreening to avoid questions about his response but at the after partyDreamWorks marketing chief Terry Press appeared genuine in heartfeltcongratulations to Disney pictures president Dick Cook.
DreamWorks has a rivalanimated film Over the Hedge,screening at ShoWest on Thursday, that's been strategically slotted in May. Acompany executive told Screen that there was internal nervousness that Cars' debut would stop its picture's momentum but thecompany's immediate post screening feeling was that its film could remaincompetitive in the marketplace with the Pixar effort.