Yesterday, I was daydreaming about something weirder than Dorothy’s trip to Oz. Why not turn the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences movie museum over to Disney?
Not to own, of course. No sense losing the tax advantages of the Academy’s nonprofit status. But to manage, as an adjunct to those other theme parks, Disneyland and Disney World. Maybe they could do package pricing complete with annual hikes. One wristband gets you a weekend of fun in Anaheim and the Miracle Mile. In return, Disney could take a percentage of the gate and a possessory credit. Something snappy, like: The Walt Disney Company Proudly Presents the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
The idea isn’t entirely outlandish. After all, Disney’s ABC network has aired the Oscar broadcast for over 40 years and appears to have it locked up for another decade. For the last two years, ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel has been the Academy’s master of ceremonies. This year, the host even paid a surprise visit to an advance screening of Disney’s fantasy film, A Wrinkle In Time.
Okay, some of it didn’t work out. Oscar ratings are in the tank and Wrinkle was kind of a flop. But things should be looking up, now that the Academy’s board of governors have created a “Best Popular Film” Oscar that will likely go next Feb. 24 to Disney’s Black Panther, or to one of another half-dozen blockbusters — say, Avengers: Infinity Wars or Deadpool 2 — from Disney or its new Fox affiliate.
So this might be the moment to lift the burden of completing and programming a film museum from an Academy that has barely been able to control its own awards ceremony and to place it squarely on the shoulders of a company that is increasingly identified with the Oscars anyway.
Imagine the possibilities. An animatronic Jimmy Kimmel could greet visitors at the museum door. After cracking a political joke or two, he could point them toward the Marvel room, or to the Star Wars corridor, or maybe to an alcove with the Walt Disney honorary Oscar of 1932 (given for creating Mickey Mouse).
Disney CEO Robert Iger already heads the museum’s fund-raising committee. Maybe he could divert the John Lasseter family donation to a truth and conciliation exhibit, reconciling victims and perpetrators from the #MeToo movement.
Disney’s ESPN could help produce a display covering sports films. Remember The Titans, a well-remembered football film from Disney, would surely find a place. McFarland USA, a Disney film about cross-country track, might even squeak in.
Those annoying mid-Wilshire Blvd. parking worries will be a thing of the past. Disney can run a monorail from the Goofy Lot on Crenshaw or the Even Goofier lot on Olympic, if not all the way to the Magic Kingdom—you never know what those Imagineering folks and their battery of lawyers and lobbyists might pull off.
This all could be a little rough on Ron Meyer, the long-time Universal executive who is chair of the museum’s board of trustees. But there’s no reason Universal can’t have naming rights to the cafeteria or a couple of Despicable Me stand-ups in the lobby. (And the Ruby Slippers will still be there, to cheer MGM.)
Sidney Ganis, a former Academy president who just returned to the group’s board as vice-president and chair of the museum committee, might also have qualms. A sophisticated type, Ganis once believed the museum would be housed in a stunning structure that was to have been designed by the French architect Christian de Portzamparc.
Granted, mouse ears on top the current museum’s new, Renzo Piano-designed spherical theater will bother the elitists. But at least they’ll be “popular.”