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?
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)