Wednesday, July 21, 2010


.... Or what we call "utilizing all corporate assets."

... Principals involved with Disney's upcoming live-action [Muppet] pic toplining Jason Segel flew to Pixar headquarters in Emeryville, Calif., on Wednesday for a table read of the project with the animation powerhouse.

The involvement comes just months after Pixar helped shape reshoots for Disney's upcoming sci-fi tentpole "Tron Legacy."

In other words, this is the second recent example of the animation house assisting parent Disney with a live-action feature.

Some of the members of the so-called "Pixar Brain Trust" -- filmmakers John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Michael Arndt, Bob Peterson and president Ed Catmull -- were there for the consultations. ...

... The exchanges during the sessions have been described as "very honest" by some, "nerve-racking" by others. "You're in the presence of people who have never had a misfire," one "Tron" attendee said.

It makes good sense to have the A-team of animation punch live-action properties up.

Disney has had top-flight story minds in its cartoon departments all the way back to the 1930s. I was always puzzled why they weren't used more in other areas of the company. But then, animation has long been considered the idiot cousin of the movie world, so why would anyone bother?

Amazing how eleven hits in a row can reduce the contempt. Big box office grosses does help to change stubborn minds, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

Yeah, that brain trust did wonders for the Disney animated films since Lasseter took over.

So what happens if Tron bombs and then the Muppet film...?

Anonymous said...

No problem.

They'll still be batting 1000 because they ain't their pictures.

Anonymous said...

It's always good to ask the opinion of smart people. I'd rather have the Pixar guys looking at my work than the latest straight-out-of-college development exec.

Anonymous said...

Hey, they may not have been blockbusters, but the stories are a he'll of a lot better than what was there for the past decade.

Anonymous said...

I will add that I do not have access to the Pixar guys, but do have plenty of access to straight-out-of-college development execs. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

So Disney's still going to make that stupid Muppet thing? The script is awful. Jason Segel is obsessed with those puppets and it shows (bizarre behavior) and he can't write for them in any legible way.

If Lasseter and Co. were REALLY smart, they'd have said: "Scrap it."

Anonymous said...

Have a feeling that's EXACTLY what Lasseter and some of the more pop-nostalgic Pixar heads are going to do. (Or else strip it down to the title, Meet the Robinsons style, and start over.)
Like every new owner in the last ten years, Segel seems to be struck with writing for his Pop-Cultural Memory, but nobody's been able to get a grasp on the characters since original head-writer Jerry Juhl died.

Look for this one to get some major last-ditch intensive-care surgery, and possibly a delay to "kiss of death" spring. (To avoid Disney crushing its own competition at Christmas.)

Anonymous said...

They should give the movie to Pete Docter, who, as many of you may know, is a huge muppet fan... Come on Disney, it's not so hard:

Jason Segel and James Bobbin vs. PETE DOCTER and his team...

Even a 3 year old can figure that out...

After all, the screenplay sound plain boring: "saving a theatre that's about to be bought out and demolished by an oil tycoon".
Ugh! There was even an incredibly ugly Muppet TV Christmas special about that....

And I totally agree about Jerry Juhl.

Anonymous said...

Ugh! There was even an incredibly ugly Muppet TV Christmas special about that....
And I totally agree about Jerry Juhl.

And emphasized the point about how nobody seems to be getting the point--Every new owner wants to show Kermit & co. as "wisecracking", but misses the basic sweetness, silliness, or affection the characters had for each other under Juhl's comic timing or Jim Henson's feel-good hippiness--
Comic timing? Mushy sweetness? Calling Dr. Pixar...

(And yeah, it was Disney noticing they were doing good things with the Tron daddy issues, and saying "Now could you fix ALL our problems for us? :) ", but yeah, this one needed fixing.)

Anonymous said...

"After all, the screenplay sound plain boring: "saving a theatre that's about to be bought out and demolished by an oil tycoon"."

Substitute "oil tycoon" with "banking tycoon" and you've got "The Country Bears" box office bomb.

Anonymous said...

Substitute "oil tycoon" with "banking tycoon" and you've got "The Country Bears" box office bomb.

Has anyone read the screenplay??? It's exactly like the Country Bears!!!! See it for yourselves:

RICH TEXMAN: "There’s oil under this studio, see!!! I can smell it. I can smell it in my wallet. Sweet sweet oil. In two weeks, we tear this place to the ground and start harvesting the sweet sweet oil under this waste of space. Muppets. The Muppets ain’t funny!!! No one is!! Least of all the Muppets! They’ve never made me laugh! Not once. The only way they could save the studio according to this contract is if they get back
together and put on a show within
the next two weeks that draws in 10
million viewers, but that ain’t
gonna happen. No sir. This studio
is gone, see. And me, well I’m
gonna be even richer than I already
am. Maniacal Laugh. Maniacal laugh."


WALTER: "He said the only thing that could stop him would be if the Muppets got back together and put on a show."
GARY: "That’s impossible. The Muppets broke up. No one can get them back together."
WALTER: "Kermit can get them back together. Kermit can do anything!"


KERMIT: "Oil Barron Tex Richman is gonna tear down the studio to drill for oil!?? And the only thing that’ll save it is if we put on a show that gets ten million viewers within two weeks!?!? Put on a show? I couldn’t do that on my own."

GARY: Well, what about the rest of the Muppets?
KERMIT: I haven’t been in touch with those guys in years.
WALTER: You should get them back together!
KERMIT: It’s easier said than done.

I know, it's repetitive as hell, and it totally feels like "Muppets from Space" (with cheesy popcultured jokes and all:
TEX RICHMAN: Oh it’s as over as Barney the Dinosaur. Nothing you can do.)

I wonder the kind of notes that the Pixar guys gave to the muppet team... (I can particularly imagine Brad Bird, who, when giving instructions, seems like a 7year old on a Red Bull rush).

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Muppets is the same problem Warner Bros. has with their classic characters and Disney has with theirs. No one wants to let go of the past and let the characters grow beyond what they were years ago.
You can't keep recycling the same old jokes even if you remember them fondly. You have to explore new ground or they will continue to languish, cost money, and die a slow death.

Anonymous said...

So, let me guess, we get wacky jokes about reuniting the characters from their low-rent "where are they now?" jobs?
They DID that bit already. In Manhattan. Twenty-five years ago.

(It's the new kids who are trying to write the "same old jokes", without the same sense of humor.
What it needs is an infusion of creators who actually LIKE the characters, and I have a feeling a few of those may lurk among the halls of Pixar...Docter only one among others.)

Anonymous said...

It's true about the characters not being allowed to grow. When I saw the Muppet Show as a kid, I loooooooved Miss Piggy. But now I can barely stand her. For one thing, she doesn't look as cute (bad puppet-building, VERY bad. Who makes those puppets now? Fire them) and she's just a one-note joke. She has one emotion: mad. And the voice sounds terrible. Poor Piggy. She was so great once. (Let's not even mention those horrible comic books, where she's drawn and written so badly. That one about Snow White...Gahhh).

Just let it end. Let the Muppets rest in peace. Please.

Anonymous said...

The most obvious problem is that they CAN'T grow: The organic element that made the original puppets different from cartoon characters--Jim Henson's laid-back Kermit, Frank Oz's manic ad-libbing for Piggy and Fozzie, Richard Hunt's Joisey-shore energy--have either died off or retired, and the characters are being kept alive on artificial life-support as just corporate licensing trademarks.
The same could be said about Mickey Mouse, but nobody ever had to worry about voicing Mickey exactly the way Walt Disney did it, just to keep the basic personality...So, we get characters who are LITERALLY imitations of themselves, and have to stay that way as long as Disney can sell them.

There's a sense of "Last chance" about the movie, and if they blow it this time, looks like it will be back to vintage DVD sales from here on in.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like script problems.I think this is a last ditch effort to save The Muppets and Tron

I read the following @ Deadline:

"I’d like to hear the real story behind the reshoot of Tron. I heard Pixar’s Stuff (Lasseter, Bird & Co.) saw it and told Disney it was a mess without heart and that the story was very weak. Then, re-writing and re-shooting follows, involving Brad Bird. (Don’t know if it is true)
Anyone? Please, fill us with the real story behind this.
BTW, the trailer looks so conventional. More hi-tech shit."

Anonymous said...

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