Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Around the House of Mouse

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.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Honestly, Im more worried about the survival of CG at Disney.

King of the Elves was the next big CG flick, and now that that's canned, and Rich Moore's project under wraps in terms of style, who knows if there will be another CG movie.

Maybe they'll keep their animators busy on Prep and Landing sequels and leave the CG features up to Pixar.

Unless Rapunzel does gangbusters, of course. Which it could...

Anonymous said...

Hey, if they're as good as the first one, I'd be down for more "Prep and Landing" specials.

Steve Hulett said...

Having talked to people who know something about Moore's project, (For the record, I know zip), I'm pretty sure they'll be making this C.G. feature.

I just saw Prep and Landing and thought it was good. Yes, this is a TV half-hour, but the talent delivered. And talent isn't exclusive to one studio.

Michael said...

Has Elves really been permanently shelved? I hear someone say retooling, then someone say "cancelled". Of course, six of one, half dozen of the other sometimes...

As for Princess, I think it'll be fine. It'll stick around for a long time, it's selling a TON of merch, and it'll sell a lot of DVDs down the road. And all the kiddies will dress like Tiana and head for WDW, and that's what corporate wants in the end, eh?

Anonymous said...

Has Elves really been permanently shelved?

Yes.

robster16 said...

I was wondering about Rapunzel. Has the movie changed a great deal from Glen Keane's vision? And if so, is that for better or worse? I'm terribly excited about the movie but also very anxious due to it's tight production schedule!

Isma de Maldonia said...

The Princess And The Frog isn't a smash hit at the b.o. but I think it'll survive until February, and the international market is going to act like always (65% of the total) so I predict 360 million dollars: 255 million over the budget which is great.

And I'm worried about Rapunzel too, it's just 11 months far and there's no even an official image.

Neal said...

I see that "King of the Elves" has been removed from the Walt Disney Animation Studios website - anyone know why it got shelved? Why was production so turbulent that a director left, it entered re-tooling, and then was canned?

Anonymous said...

The Rapunzel story still has a very "Glen Keane" feel to it, if that even makes any sense. It feels quite a lot like Beauty and the Beast, with a lot of heart, great music, action, and humor. Should be good, if they get it done.

Anonymous said...

"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" ...

That statement gives me the creeps. I know it was meant to be positive, but the implication is that hand-drawn films are under a kind of "probation;" they have to prove themselves worthy of being made in a way that CG and live action films do not. It's totally unjustified, a convenient excuse for sending more and more of the production work out of the country.

Is this the same Bob Iger who just met with the president to figure out how to create more jobs? I don't think Obama was concerned about jobs in Toronto.

Anonymous said...

so I predict 360 million dollars: 255 million over the budget which is great.

Remember, wishing to a star is a fairy tale thing and not a financial reality. You must compute marketing which is more than the cost of the film itself. They should pray to break even with frog. In the near future, 3D films will only be made by pixar, while disney does Princess films. Joe Jump with Rich Moore does not sound like a classic. winnie the pooh will be another dead weight for disney animation. Snow queen, I hear is like the queen in Narnia who has a change of heart. We'll have to wait and see.

Here's hoping Disney stay above the rising water.

Anonymous said...

3D films will only be made by pixar

That depends on how well Rapunzel does.

Anonymous said...

Princess and the Frog isn't necessarily going to be a hit overseas either. It opened badly in Italy this past weekend, for instance...

Anonymous said...

The real problem is that the degree of success of TPATF really matters. So what if it is a blockbuster, so what if it's not. It shouldn't be the reason why Disney makes or doesn't make hand drawn animated features. They NEVER should have stopped making them in the first place.

Maybe Princess is not another Beauty and the Beast or Lion King- so what! Maybe the next one will be, or the one after that. Walt Disney created an art form and the art form should survive, period. If this one isn't good enough, make a better one next time! The entire art form shouldn't be on trial with every film. That's narrow, grubby corporate thinking.

Michael said...

Well, I doubt there are many around here who don't think they *should* keep making traditional animation. But these days, in the corporate scene, *should* and *will* are two different things.

Floyd Norman said...

Sometimes I feel like Clint Eastwood. I wish these damn executives would get the hell off my lawn.

Let's face it. Animation at Disney is on life support. We all know it, and we don't want to admit it.

Michael said...

Well Floyd, if you ever feel like channeling "Unforgiven" I'll back your play. I'm feeling a little Dirty Harry myself.

Anonymous said...

What we can definitely say for sure is that this comment thread is filled with people who have no idea what they're talking about.

Michael said...

That would be me. And yet, here I am...

Anonymous said...

Regarding what?

I work at Disney, so I have a pretty good grasp as to whats going on there.

Neal said...

Our comments were used as the basis of a /Film article:

http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/12/23/have-disney-canned-their-philip-k-dick-adaptation-king-of-the-elves/

Anonymous said...

What I've heard is the mandate is it needs a princess to be greenlit. This was said in regards to 2D (except for Pooh, which is its own type of animal), but it might even be true for Disney CG as well.

The only reason for Disney animation to exhist is for 2D since Pixar has the CG thing all tied up. If Disney CG continues to underperform compared to Pixar it won't make any sense to continue down that road either.

Anonymous said...

I just saw "Prep and Landing", and it was..cute. But you know, all the time the reindeer and the elves were fussing and freaking out about the snowy weather, one thought kept running through my mind..."Where's Rudolph?" And if I was thinking it, you can bet that every kid in America was thinking the same thing. IMO, Disney missed an opportunity there. It should have tapped Rudolph's owners for use of the character. Face it, Rudolph is part of the Santa mythos now. Leaving him out of a special about Santa and dangerous weather is like leaving out the sleigh. But the special was a nice effort...sort of...

Anonymous said...

I'd rather the money go towards the production value, rather than paying the copyright owners of Rudolph an arm and a leg, and sacrificing 25% of the budget.

I think Prep came out fine without Rudolph.

Anonymous said...

Haha /Film. If I were you guys, I wouldnt trust "news" from anonymous posters.

Who knows what the true fate of "King of the Elves" is, but until I hear it from Disney themselves, I'll take what I hear with a grain of salt

Anonymous said...

"What we can definitely say for sure is that this comment thread is filled with people who have no idea what they're talking about."

Enlighten us, please, oh mysterious wise one!

Disney Artist said...

I work at Disney too. I can firmly say, that without question, I am working on "Bolt 2: Ariel's Magic Carpet Ride, featuring Simba and Gaston"

Its gonna be epic.

Anonymous said...

It's not a secret that Elves is dead or that the producer and directors have gone. That said, it's lame and irresponsible for Slashfilm (or whatever it's called) to do "stories" on the posts here. Hello Slashfilm: either get an actual source that YOU know or leave speculation on other message boards alone for chrissakes.

And for the 101th time Steve: this is why our board shouldn't be public. it's really going to backfire some day, or you're going to find yourself having to do way too much editing here.

Floyd Norman said...

I find it hard to take seriously any comment from posters named "Anonymous." However, this is not Steve's fault.

Michael said...

I was really looking forward to KOTE, but now thanks to Steve I'll never get to see it. Geez Steve - why do you hate Christmas?

Anonymous said...

Easy solution:

Make it so you have to register with a union shop email address,(dreamworks, disney, etc) but still allow commenters to use screenames or anonymous posting (but you still have to login to comment). At least we'll know we're discussing with someone from a studio, and not joe smith in Wyoming...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, because we know everyone who works in a TAG studio has an studio e-mail address and only those that do should be able to post.

What a bonehead suggestion

Anonymous said...

Geez, sorry for making such a "bonehead" suggestion. I was just trying to help.

You're mean.

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, the info here is not of such delicate nature as to limit who does the posting. In fact, even if people do register, that would not preclude some from posting little info on what you consider to be confidential.

And besides, no info given here is a threat to national security or anything. It's just cartoons man!


r

illegal poster said...

Yeah, great suggestion: Let's limit the postings, not only to animation professionals, but to animation professionals who are currently employed. Wait, what if they are employed at non-union shops or behind on their dues? What if they are management? We can't let THEM post on our blog. What about freelancers? they don't have studio addresses. Wait....

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