Monday, June 25, 2007

The End of Cheap Sequels

The BIG trade paper reports:

Game, set, match Pixar.

With last week's reorg of Disney animation, John Lasseter and Ed Catmull gained control over all Mouse House feature toons and won their pitched battle against DVD sequels.

Disney Toon is now a separate unit of Walt Disney Animation Studios under their aegis...

A year-plus ago, when I bopped through DisneyToon Studios on Sonora, a mucky-muck said to me with a funny smile: "Oh. We're not part of the Disney Feature chain of command anymore. We report to the main lot now. Not features."

This was soon after the Pixar acquisition. Soon after Mr. Catmull and Mr. Lasseter made their way down to Burbank for the first time. It turned out to be true. One of the rumors that swirled was that Sharon Morrill asked Robert Iger not to put DisneyToon under Disney Feature anymore.

Whether that was the way it went down, or whether the story is just one more urban myth, I have no idea. But what seems to be reality is the changes at DTS as related above.

The days of sequels are fini.

14 comments:

Michael said...

What was wrong with the direct-to-video sequels? Brand dilution of the "parent" movie? I thought the sequels were all decent sellers.

Anonymous said...

"What was wrong with the direct-to-video sequels?"

Are you serious ? Ok, kiddo, read the comments :
HERE

Things like a nice animator saying:

"When I was "let go" as an artist from DisneyToon studios, I felt like I was finally released from the employ of a filthy third-world brothel."

What do you think was wrong there ?

And yes, as a matter of fact it did dilute the brand , as noted in this article on The Motley Fool( and elsewhere) :

" Parents eventually got tired of snapping up cut-rate sequels. Kids who grew up on the stuff no longer had a reason to trust the Disney brand.
Exploiting the classics squeezed Disney dry of its heritage, imagination and fan base."


-Rick Aristotle Munarri
Motley Fool article Killin' The Villain at Disney

Anonymous said...

You ain't going to meet too many artists from DisneyToon Studios that've got much good to say about Sharon M. and her management folks.

But it's the movies they turn out that count, right? Who cares if Sharon is mean as long as the stuff she's in charge of rocks.

So name me a feature that was really good from DT. Sure, there were a bunch of okay ones, and some of the art in a lot of them them was good, but stories? Ewwww.

My twelve-year-old nephew watched "Jungle Book II" with me. When it was over, he asked "Why did they make that? It's just like the first one, only not as good."

That's kind of DisneyToon's motto. "It's just like the first one, only not as good."

Anonymous said...

At the risk of being branded "kiddo", I'm curious, were "Lion King I 1/2" and "Lilo and Stitch 2" part of the DisneyToon Studios, sequels? If so, there is an argument to be made in terms of what families enjoy, VS the quality most animators would endorse. Depending on the child, "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" would make it into the DVD player much quicker and more often than the epic, "Cars". At my house, (and car), I know we've found room for both. And yes, we find time for books and conversation:) Do sequels have a place, or is a matter of who and how much they have to spend...("Toy Story 3", Good idea? Interested on where people land on this debate.

Steve Hulett said...

DisneyToon Studios did three types of movies.

They made direct-to-video features that were relatively inexpensive (for them. Other studios seldom spent the kind of money DisneyToon Studios did.)

They did more expensive direct-to-video productions (Lion King 1 1/2, Lady and the Tramp II, Bambi II would probably fall into this category. Somebody with access to production budgets could no doubt be more precise.)

And the studio did a number of theatrical features (Goofy Movie, Jungle Book II, Peter Pan II and several Winnie the Pooh features.) Some started life as direct-to-video productions, others as theatricals. Most of all of these had bigger budgets.

The first direct-to-video feature, Return of Jaffar would probably be the least expensive feature produced, but it was several reconfigured episodes of the Aladdin television series and came out of Disney TVA -- as did many of the early features before DisneyToon Studios was spun off as its own division.

The division made a lot of money for a considerable amount of time. The DisneyToon studio in Australia -- now closed -- did some amazing work.

Anonymous said...

"When I was "let go" as an artist from DisneyToon studios, I felt like I was finally released from the employ of a filthy third-world brothel."

Perhaps you were let go because of your lack of talent. There are incredible talents there. You are just bitter you are not needed anymore. They tend to keep the talented people and its gonna be a wonderful place to work at. Your lost buddy.

bartholomew Neff said...

So what kind of animation are they going to make under Lasseter and Catmull if not sequels? Are they going to produce original content? Is Lasseter going to make DisneyToons a "directors" studio the way he made Pixar and is trying to make Disney into?

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with the demotion or 'shift' of Sharon Morrill, but I do have a problem with fools blaming the poor BO of Disney's last few films on the cheapquels!
Those films had bad BO because they sucked and shouldn't have ever made it to the screen.
Obviously the American public enjoyed the DTVs regardless of their 'quality' or lack of animation street cred.
Lassetter better have some big plans that bring in as much money as those 'cheapquels' did or he's going to find himself swimming upstream.
And in the meantime I suspect a lot of talented artists who worked their hardest on projects that many in the animation community despised will soon find themselves out of work.
The pendulum is swinging to the other extreme now and I get the feeling that extreme isn't going to be a lot better than the last one was.
I hope I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps you were let go because of your lack of talent. There are incredible talents there. You are just bitter you are not needed anymore. They tend to keep the talented people and its gonna be a wonderful place to work at."

The management at Disney (until recently) wouldn't know "talent" if it bit them on the ass.
Any true "talent" that exists at that studio is purely coincidental.
Maybe the laid-off anonymous above DID get laid of for being lousy, but I've seen Disney fire amazingly talented people who try to do great work and cling to folks who merely excel at maintaining the status quo.

It IS an exciting time to be there, but don't pat yourself on the back too hard just because you didn't happen to be one of the people who got the axe.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last Anonymous guy... Sometimes it's the folks that are in the right clicks that stick around too.

"Perhaps you were let go because of your lack of talent."

Even if the above comment was made by a really talented and productive person, they need to eat a bite of humble pie.

It's one thing to be constructive and another to think destructive. Don't be destructive dood, if you're so good...then you are better than that attitude.

www.chadtownsend.com

Anonymous said...

Don't be destructive dood, if you're so good...then you are better than that attitude.

Read the previous comments dude. The original person who posted that comment was bitter. He completely disregard the artist who are talented and are still working there. Granted there are some who do not deserve to be there, but don't completely ignore some of the artists hard work and passion for what they do. There are some beautiful work being created.

Anonymous said...

I was siding with the one directly above and commenting to the one in quotes....maybe if everyone used their name it would be easier to understand

www.chadtownsend.com

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm confused...I don't know who to be mad at...But, with so many people named Anonymous, I'm changing my name to "Frightened Little Man"...anonymously, of course.

Chad said...

to clear it up...I'm with you Little man and being preachy to the guy you quoted...I think...hehe...

I better log in this time, so people won't write in as me heheh.

www.chadtownsend.com

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