A big flop for Disney (it remains one of their lowest-grossing live-action movies – costing almost $15 million to make, and making only around $3 million at the US box office), and it’s not hard to see why. Originally intended as a serious drama about a group of New York newspaper delivery boys in 1899 who went on strike in protest at the unfair practices of newspaper owners Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, this was turned into a musical, complete with singing and dancing numbers set against a grimy Manhattan skyline.
Part of the problem here is that it’s unlikely many kids will relate to a 19th-century strike (or know/care what a ‘newsie’ is in this digital age, for that matter). And despite some impressive choreography (director Ortega was the choreographer for Dirty Dancing), it all looks very dated, while young Bale, in his pre-Batman Begins days, looks very uncomfortable. It would all be very odd if it wasn’t so dull.
Is Newsies suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...