Today as I stumbled into the Walt Disney Animation hat building, employees were streaming out.
"They're holding a town hall at the equestrian center in Griffith Park! ..."
Which I understood to mean, "John [Lasseter], Ed [Catmull], and Andrew [Millstein] are holding a big employees' meeting down Riverside Drive at the big horse building ..."
I went into the studio anyway. A layout artist asked: "Aren't you going?" I said, "Only if Bob Iger comes along and invites me ..."
Upstairs, a staffer told me that King of the Elves is going through some changes, and that one of the directors has departed. (Nothing new there; Woolfgang Reithermann was displace by Art Stevens on Fox and the Hound; Chris Sanders exited American Dog. Stuff happens.)
Finally, since there's been discussion here about what The Princess and the Frog really cost (the Wall Street Journal quotes a $150 million figure), I went to a Wise Old Disneyite who is in a position to know. She said:
"Management's told us that they want to 'do Winnie the Pooh for $35 million, which they said was one third of the P and F budget. Do the math. Thirty-five times three is $105 million."
One hundred and five million dollars. That pretty much sounds right to me. Disney's new, hand-drawn feature had a smaller crew, inbetweens and cleanups outsourced to Yowza in Toronto, and a focused schedule.
Sadly, I don't think the large staffs that populated Walt Disney Animation Studio in the halcyon days of Aladdin and Lion King are returning in the near term. But the Mouse House as a steady stream of product rolling down the pike, and if the big, round ball of fickle fate bounces right, they'll be profit centers.