Thursday, March 08, 2007

John Lasseter Announces Frog Princess

Last year, TAG blog was at the stockholder meeting in Anaheim, taking notes and reporting back first-person.

This year? No such luck. The festivities were held in New Orleans for a smaller crowd, but most of the same cast was on-stage, rolling out new announcements...

Disney Returns to Hand Drawing With `Frog Princess'

2007-03-08 13:04 (New York)

By Andy Fixmer and Cecile Daurat

March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co., owner of Pixar animation studio, will release ``The Frog Princess'' in 2009 in a return to the hand-drawn movie format the company had ceased producing.

``The Frog Princess,'' set in New Orleans, will be directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, who made ``The Little Mermaid'' and ``Aladdin.'' The film, based on the pair's original story, features Maddy, Disney's first African-American princess, Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter said.

``We're going back to hand-drawn animation,'' Lasseter told investors at Burbank, California-based Disney's annual meeting in News Orleans today. ``This movie is going to be classic Disney and yet you have never seen this before.''

The move is part of an effort by Lasseter, who joined Disney last May with the $8.06 billion purchase of Pixar, to focus Disney's Burbank-based animation unit on hand-drawn films. Disney had abandoned the format after 2004's ``Home on the Range'' flopped.

Shares of Burbank, California-based Disney rose 26 cents to $34.69 at 12:51 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They were little changed this year before today.

``Home on the Range'' cost $110 million to make and took in $50 million at the domestic box office, while Pixar's ``The Incredibles'' cost $92 million and garnered $261.4 million.

In addition to Lasseter and Disney Animation president Ed Catmull, the Pixar deal brought Disney its largest shareholder Apple Inc.'s Steve Jobs. Pixar has created five of 10 top- grossing animated films of all time, including No. 2 ``Finding Nemo.''

Disney finished third at the domestic box office last year with $1.52 billion in ticket sales on hits such as ``Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest'' and Pixar's ``Cars.'' The company will release a third ``Pirates'' this year and the animated ``Ratatouille.''

Methinks that having hand-drawn features come out of WDFA in Burbank and cg features out of Emeryville will help differentiate brands. Time will tell if that ends up happening full-time.

Right now, both studios are turning out cgi films -- Robinsons and Ratatouille -- and no doubt will continue in that mode for the next few years.


MrFun said...

An African-American princess at Disney?! My god! What's next?

African-American executives?

Honor Hunter said...

The company's Chairman is African American, John E. Pepper, Jr. and Ed Grier is President of the Disneyland Resort.

Anonymous said...

And so is Robert Johnson, who has been their v.p. of labor relations since the early 1980s.

Steve Hulett said...

This might be the first black princess, but there was Bre'r Fox and associates in 1946.

You need to go back to Bebe's Kids in the early nineties for a feature with mostly black characters.

MrFun said...

You've made my point.

There's so few of us you can name them.

Anonymous said...

I love the Song of the South! my copy of it is treasured.

C.Edwards said...

I gave up my hopes years ago that Disney would finally grow a set and do a movie with black characters. I figured, once they made one, they probably wouldn't make another for another sixty years AND they'd be so worried about offending that they'd play it so safe on everything from character designs to voice actors that it wouldn't be fun, interesting or memorable (y'know, kind of like, "Pocahontas"). Let's hope Lasseter, Musker and Clements can breathe a little life into this project.

Anonymous said...

"There's so few of us you can name them."

The same goes for animated films with black female leads, too. On the bright side, Frog Princess could be the first animated film with an African-American female lead that isn't banned from DVD release.

(Nadia doesn't count, because she's Atlantean).

Honor Hunter said...


The reason I can name them is not because they are so few, but because they are in such high positions in the company.

MrFun said...

Whoop- Dee-Doo!

Can't name all the women in high executive positions. Sure the heck couldn't even begin to name all the men.

Sorry, I'm not impressed.

Anonymous said...

Steve, do you know how the story is coming along? – How things are progressing…
Thank you..

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see. Disney has purposefully held blacks from being executives? I dont get you Mr. Fun. First you just about say there are no AA executives at Disney and then when multiple people point out there are, you bitch and moan that that wasnt your point.

Honor Hunter said...

If you want to read a little about the plot as well as the description of the characters of Maddy and the others go over to

I found it on the web last night. They have a bunch of cool pics I didn't see other places too.

I love the designs they've released so far. I hope that it's a success and Disney becomes 2D again. That way there will be more of a distiction between Disney and Pixar.

Anonymous said...


Those are some cool pics. I've seen a couple of them on other websites but not all of them on that site. The story sounds really exciting, especially the Villain. I wish they had a picture of what he was supposed to look like.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see this film. It looks great and I love the directors. I can't believe Disney almost let them get away before Lasseter got there.

I really don't feel anything for American Dog. I hope it's good but I'm not really looking forward to it. Frog Princess and Rapunzel are what I'm looking forward to.

MrFun said...

Now, I'm bitching that there are no African-Americans at Disney, when multiple people pointed out there are?

Never mind, Anonymous. You don't get it. I doubt you ever will.

Anonymous said...

I get it.

If you were standing before perfection, you'd find "something" wrong with it.

Some people will always be miserable and to make themselves feel better they try and bring others down into their misery, instead of bringing themselves out of their own misery.

I feel sorry for you.

MrFun said...

Hey anonymous,

First of all, I use my real name, so I've nothing to hide. Second, I'm an old guy, so I don't expect perfection from anything or anyone.

If you knew me you'd know that I'm a cartoonist, so I'm Hardly bitter or miserable. It's just that I've been around a lot longer than you have, and perhaps know a little bit more.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, and I'd love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee one day and explain fully what I've been talking about.

And finally, there's no need to feel sorry for me. I'm a very lucky guy who has had a great career, and a wonderful life.

MrFun said...

Oops! Sorry about that real name business. I forgot that on this blog I'm Mr. Fun.

My name is Floyd Norman.

Honor Hunter said...

Floyd Norman?

The Floyd Norman that worked for Pixar and Disney? Pleasure to meet you sir. I may not agree with you on everything regarding the situation with minorities at Disney, but you have far more experience dealing with them than me. I must say, I really like your articles over at Jim Hill. Having read those articles it puts your comments in a different light. Without them, I must say you seemed like a very negative commentor... upon knowing it was you saying them I'll give them more weight...

Anonymous said...

- Does anyone know how the progress of hiring is going??
Thank you.

MrFun said...

Thanks, scorpiotsm.

Yes, I'm that Floyd Norman -- and those who know me can tell you I'm hardly a Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton on a racial rant. In fact, I've written articles stressing the positives of our business when it pertains to racial matters. Overall, our business comes across pretty darn good.

Keep in mind when I speak, it's from a perspective of nearly fifty years in this business, so I hope I have some credibility. I've also been vocal in going up against guys like filmmaker, Spike Lee when he called Walt Disney a racist. So, please understand you're not talking to an angry, bitter black man. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What I speak of deserves an entire article, and this is hardly the forum for such a discussion. Perhaps I'll address this one day over at Jim Hill Media where I write a monthly column on animation.

Honor Hunter said...


Please pardon me Mr. Norman while I put my tongue back in my mouth. It's an honor to correspond with a legend such as yourself.

I was just making my comments from the standpoint of someone that sees so many people rant and argue about everything(not just race, mind you).

I find many forums I read filled with nothing but negative comments from people that seem to simply relish in that negativity. The DCA haters come to mind. Not that I don't have problems with the park myself, but nothing good ever seems to get acknowledged by some folk.

Same goes with animation. I mistook you for one of those types. It's hard to read a person's intent just from the written text sometimes.

Someday, it'd be an honor to sit down and have that cup of coffee with you. Have a good weekend and keep up the articles on Jim Hill. May I suggest one giving us your thoughts on Lasseter's new direction for WDFA?

Thanks again.

Steve Hulett said...

Does anyone know how the progress of hiring is going??

Most likely the last quarter of '07, and the first quarter of '08.

C.Edwards said...

I don't know what to think of this movie. I'm kind of wishing there wasn't so much press for something that hasn't even been casted. And I understand that people are excited and curious, but...all I see here is an animated Randy Newman fairy tale musical, and I seem to remember that people started getting tired of that back in 1995?

Anonymous said...

Whether right or wrong, I must tell the story. Grew up in a very small town with mostly Whites. "Frog" was another insulting inflammatory term used, much like the N word, for a black person. It's unsettling that no one in the af-am community is saying anything about this rather unfortunate title. What, she couldn't be a sleeping beauty, a snow WHITE or a freakin' mermaid???

Disney has had an agenda for many years. Wake the hell up, morons

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