By Joshua Rich
Updated April 25, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

Pixar and Disney are having a hard enough time promoting their latest animated creation, Ratatouille (coming June 29). First hurdle: edumacating the American public on how to pronounce that unfortunate title. (As the film’s logo says, it’s, “rat•a•too•ee.”) Second: Not everyone, especially New Yorkers, will find the concept of rats in a restaurant so cute. But an interesting story in today’s New York Times suggests a third, more unexpected challenge: selling a film that comes from original material.

I know, it sounds ridiculous. A good movie should sell itself — especially one from Pixar, which has never gone wrong — right? And this flick certainly looks like fun: I enjoyed the clip of it that played at ShoWest last month. But a look at the statistics offers a gloomier story, writes The Times: “In the last five years, only about 20 percent of the films with more than $200 million in domestic ticket sales were purely original in concept, rather than a sequel or an adaptation of some pre-existing material like The Da Vinci Code.”

Yipes! Are we movie fans really so unimaginative that we’re unwilling try something new? Or is it the studios that don’t trust us, going only for the sure-thing franchise film? I suppose one could argue that Pixar movies are franchise films of a sort, but are you really less likely to go to something like Ratatouille versus, say, the latest Pirates or Harry Potter or Shrek installment, simply because you don’t know the story going in? I mean, I always thought we preferred to be surprised and wowed by something new. But, sheesh, maybe I’m wrong. Does this whole thing trouble you as much as it bothers me?