Where on the Shelf Is...Captain EO?
Up this week is...CAPTAIN EO
What Is It?:
By the mid-'80s, Michael Jackson had already established himself as one of the most profitable and prolific musicians ever. At the time, he had 10+ Grammys, a partial discography that would eventually make him the third highest-selling musician ever and the publishing rights to most of the Beatles discography.
In 1986, Disney introduced CAPTAIN EO, directed by Francis Ford Coppola (THE GODFATHER, APOCALYPSE NOW) and executive produced by George Lucas (HOWARD THE DUCK). It was a 17-minute 3D special effects-palooza budgeted at $23.7 million, more than other popular sci-fi movies of the same year, like ALIENS, STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME and POLICE ACADEMY 3: BACK IN TRAINING.
Upon release, a countless number of Mickey Mouse-eared families waited two hours in line to watch the King of Pop face off against Anjelica Huston and battle something called Whip Warriors with the help of a dwarf and a cat-puppet named Fuzzball.
Where Is It?:
Less than six months after Jackson died, Disney announced CAPTAIN EO would return to Epcot, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Park in Paris. The next summer, it did, and was renamed CAPTAIN EO TRIBUTE--because even Disney executives thought CAPTAIN EO PROPOFOL INVASION lacked taste.
Yet, CAPTAIN EO has never made its way to home video. It wasn't even included on the HIStory DVDs, which collected the bulk of Jackson's music videos. One of those was the John Landis-directed "Thriller," which runs nearly 14 minutes and was eventually given its very own VHS..
It may not be common practice, but it's certainly not unreasonable for Disney to put the short film out as a standalone title. Still, if they're not willing to gamble as much, they could always lump it with TERMINATOR 2 3-D and MUPPET VISION 3-D and sell the trio as a limited, numbered Diamond Edition.
But for now, the Disney film/attraction has been cast aside, left as something of an oddity in the career of a man whose life and times were littered with the absolute weirdest scenarios imaginable.
When Will We See It?:
No one should be shy about cashing in on the life and death of MJ, considering his estate has pulled in nearly $700 million since his death in 2009. That includes the sales of everything from records and t-shirts to alarm clocks and bubblegum.
Fans will note that not one of those millions has come from a proper home video release of CAPTAIN EO. And if any studio is going to profit off of MJ, then they're going to have to learn how to capitalize a bit more efficiently. Every summer, whether on his birthday or death date, fans pay tribute to their one-gloved hero. And every week, there's another news story somehow related to MJ, whether it's Lady Gaga buying 55 pieces of his belongings or Bubbles himself painting $1500 artworks.
That leaves little room and excuse for any studio not to want to cash in. Even Lionsgate screwed the chimp when their Francis Ford Coppola 5-Film Collection used its space for two versions of APOCALYPSE NOW, THE CONVERSATION, ONE FROM THE HEART, and TETRO--all of which have been out on Blu-ray before.
Where Can We See It?:
CAPTAIN EO TRIBUTE is still running, but fans of the original version will have to view it on YouTube, sans 3D effects and lasers.
While you're in YouTubeLand, check out this glorious playthrough of Sega's MOONWALKER.