Today was my hat building day, where some lead animators are limbering up for Winnie the Pooh, and most everyone else is plunging into work on Rapunzel.
Up on the second floor, I ran into a down-hearted artist, recently finished with The Princess and the Frog. He told me this:
"I'm not happy with the way TP&TF is performing. They should have released it away from all the blockbusters. I'm disappointed. It's grosses just haven't been as good as we hoped. And after we finish with the Winnie the Pooh feature I don't know if Disney will do anymore hand-drawn pictures" ....
Me, I think that the Mouse will be producing several more hand-drawn epics, but I'm far from an expert. However, a long-term Disney veteran with an office on the third floor agrees with me.
"They've done real well with merchandise for The Princess and the Frog, and that stuff is important. They've got Pooh coming up, and I know that there's another hand-drawn feature, Snow Queen, after that.
I'm thinking that as long as the company can hold costs down, and the grosses are enough so that the studio doesn't lose thirty or forty million dollars, they'll be making hand-drawn features for awhile" ...
I'm not certain that a final verdict on hand-drawn vs. c.g.i. has been rendered, although a c.g. modeler I encountered on the second floor believes the jury has handed in the envelope. ("Look at the last seven years, man. It's pretty conclusive. Computer animation just makes more money.")
I donno. Maybe hand-drawn features are like like Hollywood westerns: Nobody wants to watch one ... until they do. (See "Wolves, Dances With" and "Yuma, 3:10 To".) And then there's the always next Simpsons movie. I seriously doubt that will be rendered in computer graphics.