What not to say: There will be bears. Lots of bears, in fact: big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. One of the biggest bears is Princess Merida’s mum, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), who is turned into a massive grizzly mother after her flame-haired daughter gives her a slice of particularly potent magical cake.
Despite being a huge plot point for the film, director Mark Andrews and his team did their level best to avoid all significant mention of ursine creatures in their publicity, making interviews, posters, trailers and TV adverts reliant on the voice actors’ fame, Pixar’s name and the sheer beauty of Merida’s luscious locks. Queen Elinor’s bear form doesn’t appear anywhere in any of the trailers, making her transformation an effective surprise. Somehow, despite the lack of publicised bears, they pulled it off, with good reviews and even better word of mouth turning the animation studio’s first fairy tale into a sizeable hit, scoring over $500 million internationally on a $185 million budget.
Did we see it coming? If you consider yourself a Pixar nut, almost certainly. Announced as The Bear And The Bow in 2008, anyone with a pair of eyes and a copy of the studio’s press release could reasonably decipher the title’s riddle and safely assume that both bears and bows would be involved at some point. Interestingly, though Merida’s bow is of great import to her as a character (and her ongoing barneys with her mum), it’s nowhere near as key to the story as the bear-based antics seen in the second and third acts.
Back to the spoiler menu