NPR does its take on the future of animated fairy tales.
The Fairy Tale Struggles To Live Happily Ever After ...
(NPR is somewhat late to the party, but what's new? ...)
The article linked above marches through the usual litany: Disney is backing away from the genre, fairy tales are old-fashioned and sexist, the public is too hip for princess stories, blah-blah-blah.
Stripped to the essence, the fairy tale is now enduring all the arguments thrown against the Western for the past thirty-five years. But whatever the argument, it's really just bullcrap-colored wrapping paper that surrounds the real reason:
"Every time we make one of these things we lose our ass. So let's not make any more of these things."
If you don't have the strait-jacketed brain of a production exec, you know that genre doesn't matter. Content does. An audience doesn't walk to the front of their neighborhood AMC, stare at the electric signs and say "A fairy tale. Ewww." or "A space opera. Yaay." It reacts to stories and characters that it wants to see. (Might be a long-haired blonde with a frying pan ... or a gray-haired marshal with one eye, who knows?)
This is why conventional wisdom so often turns out to be wrong. The studio development executive with a death-grip on his seven-figure salary isn't going to greenlight a genre that isn't "safe," but a creator with clout -- be it John Lasseter or the Coen brothers or James Cameron -- will. And when the resulting feature makes half a billion dollars, then Conventional Wisdom begins to change. Slowly.
But the supposed bias against fairy tales is bogus anyway. What is Avatar if not a fairy tale? It's got the princess in the beautiful and mythical kingdom, the out-of-sorts hero, the black-hearted villain, the heroic final battle and uplifting ending. It might be dressed up as sci fi, but it's little different than Snow White, The Little Mermaid or Aladdin in many of its story beats.
Disney might not be making another Tangled anytime soon, but 20th Century Fox will be making as many sequels to Avatar as it can. And Paramount? I have no doubt that the Viacom company is delighted it greenlit that remake of an old John Wayne picture.