Red Dead Redemption vs ‘Toy Story 3’: Which is the signature success of 2010?

July 06, 2010 | 7:06 p.m.

Red Dead Redemption lean

Ben Fritz, the Los Angeles Times business writer and stand-out contributor to the Company Town blog, drops by the Hero Complex to pose an intriguing question…

What’s the signature success in entertainment of 2010 so far? Movie fans will be quick on the draw with their answer — it’s got to be “Toy Story 3,” the fastest-grossing film in Pixar’s history and the year’s best-reviewed release, right? 

Woody Toy Story Pixar

But hold your horses, pardner, there’s another contender — Red Dead Redemption has to be right near the top of any list of 2010 entertainment sensations, and you could make an argument that it would beat “Toy Story 3” in a pop-culture shootout at the way-better-than-O.K. Corral.

In the month of May, the hard-boiled, bloody and very mature release from Rockstar Games sold a chart-topping 1.5 million copies in just the U.S. and Canada alone, as Alex Pham reported. Earlier, Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive, said the game has already shipped 5 million units worldwide, and by that measure it stands as the best-selling game release of 2010.

The G-rated “Toy Story 3” is already the third-highest-grossing film of the year and moving up the list. It also has a score of 91 at Metacritic, which is outstanding — but a few points short of the 95 that the review-compilation site has listed for Red Dead. To be fair, though, it should be noted that game reviewers are generally far more forgiving than their film counterparts. Still, “Red Dead” is being hailed as a true masterpiece of its genre and you’d be hard-pressed to find a credible critic that would slam either of these summer sensations.

If you look at the consumer numbers, the 1.5 million people who bought Red Dead in May pale next to the roughly 38 million domestic moviegoers who bought a ticket to see “Toy Story 3” so far. Then again, consider the statment by GameSpy that players may have spent 14 million hours in the world of Red Dead Redemption in its first two weeks after launch. Multiply that out over the month and a half since then and you have people spending more time riding Red Dead’s digital range than visiting Pixar’s animated toy box. The true test is time, however. Which of these 2010 landmark releases will be remembered most in a decade or two?

— Ben Fritz


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Photos: Top right, “Red Dead Redemption” image (Rockstar Games); Left, Woody from “Toy Story 3” (Disney Pixar)


25 Responses to Red Dead Redemption vs ‘Toy Story 3’: Which is the signature success of 2010?

  1. Stacy says:

    I think Toy Story will have a longer shelf life. Plus I dont think Red Dead, while an impressive achievement, registers with those not familiar with the video game world. I would argue Modern Warfare 2 has better recognition with the pop culture world because of the massive scale of its success.

  2. CG says:

    Does the writer fail to see that we've been talking about "Toy Story" for over a decade already, since the first one relased in 1995? TS3 has nothing to prove against Red Ded, it already is an established franchise that has spawned BILLIONS of dollars in merchandise sales and 3 movies.

  3. Heisenberg says:

    RED DEAD is one of my Top 5 All-Time Video Games. And that's saying a lot (to me)!

  4. Gaucho420 says:

    Read Dead for sure. I've gotten well over 80 hours out of the game and I'm still not done. Granted, I'm taking my time, doing everything you can do…but there's no way a third sequel to an existing movie can top the entertainment value of Read Dead.
    Media of the yea for sure.

  5. Gaucho420 says:

    And by the way, unless you PLAY red dead…how can you compare? I'm sure years ago people said GTA was a passing fad, but clearly the success of Red Dead (GTA in the West) prooves otherwise.
    My belief is that as newe generations come, games will top movies as they are a better form of entertainment due to the multiple seatings for one story and the unmatched interaction.
    I'd nominate Heavy Rain as another game that reall caught my attention this year.
    All I can add to those non-gamers is if you don't game or game only on the Wii, you have NO IDEA what you're missing on.
    The answer to this question is very obvious and its red dead, unless you think a 2 hour UN-interactive movie somehow matches an 80 hour epic game.

  6. Jon Healey says:

    Ben, the amount of time spent playing Red Dead vs. the amount of time spent TS3 isn't a meaningful metric. It's like saying books are more valuable culturally than paintings 'cause it takes hours to read a book and only seconds to see a work of art. My household has listened to the soundtrack to Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: the Squeakquel for countless hours. Somehow that doesn't strike me as an indication that the music was more worthwhile to us than, say, a single viewing of "Fantastic Mr. Fox."
    And I second CG's comment about the staying power of TS3 over Red Dead. "Pac Man" is an iconic game that was released in 1980, but if you compare its enduring value to, say, 1980's "The Shining," "Raging Bull" or even Caddyshack," the scales tilt heavily in favor of the movie. That's because advancing technology makes games seem dated within a few years, if not months. But a great movie is immune to technological change.

    • Mariospants says:

      It's maybe a video game fan thing, but if I had to choose, I could imagine a world without "The Shining", "Raging Bull" and definitely "Caddyshack" but not one without "Pac Man". There are always attempts to improve or update that game, but it is a timeless playing experience that will thrill and be remembered – old school tech and all – long past when those 3 movies have lost cultural significance.

      Pac Man T-shirts and undershorts and lunchboxes are STILL popular today. "The Shining" branded socks never existed, "Raging Bull" cereal never made it to the marketplace and "Caddyshack" sneakers are a figment of the imagination. When it comes to pop culture, Pac Man >>>> those three movies and always will.

  7. Vic, Santa Monica says:

    Well I dunno who wins in the battle of the $$$ but as a gamer who spent a bunch of hours on Red Dead and a movie goer who spent a couple of hours in watching Toy Story 3, I gotta give it to Woody and crew in the battle for which experience I enjoyed most. TS3 is a special movie that will stay with you long after the credits roll, and as good a game that Red Dead was I can't say the same about John Marston and co.

  8. Dylan says:

    Toy Story 3 is a clear-cut winner. No one will remember Red Dead Redemption in a few years (maybe not even by next year). Everyone will remember Toy Story 3.

  9. RH says:

    Mass Effect 2

  10. Steve says:

    So I guess Super Mario Galaxy 2 is out of the race entirely? Well, your loss.

  11. The.Watcher says:

    Hard pressed?
    2 words: Roger Ebert.

  12. Daniel Petersen says:

    Umm this article is forgetting Super Mario Galaxy 2. Its is the highest rated game of ALL TIME and has sold more copies then Red Dead. You need to get your facts right mate.

  13. ian valdez says:

    even though pepole are saying super mario galaxy 2 is the highest rated game ever (which is not true) red dead redemption sold more copies and is a better game

  14. Marissa Evans says:

    It's a tough one, but I think it's too early to judge. I'm waiting until the year is over; there's still so much twenty-ten left.
    Nevertheless, I've seen both films, and they both have something different to offer. It may just be the kid in me, but I'm going with 'Toy Story 3' as the true success of the summer so far, critically speaking.

  15. L.G. Valdovinos says:

    Well is bee since the too and i forgot about TOY STORY an the other hand RED DEAD still here. I tink Vidieo game will overpass movies for their interactive values and in time with groing technology its going to be show..

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