Is Disney Closing the Book on Fairy Tales?

The LA Times had a front page story yesterday reporting Disney Animation is closing the book on fairy tales, saying:

…the curtain is falling on “princess movies,” which have been a part of Disney Animation’s heritage since the 1937 debut of its first feature film, “Snow White.” The studio’s Wednesday release of “Tangled,” a contemporary retelling of the Rapunzel story, will be the last fairy tale produced by Disney’s animation group for the foreseeable future.

“Films and genres do run a course,” said Pixar Animation Studios chief Ed Catmull, who along with director John Lasseter oversees Disney Animation. “They may come back later because someone has a fresh take on it … but we don’t have any other musicals or fairy tales lined up.” Indeed, Catmull and Lasseter killed two other fairy tale movies that had been in development, “The Snow Queen” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

Other notable quotes from the piece:

Catmull said he and Lasseter have been encouraging filmmakers to break with safe and predictable formulas and push creative boundaries.

“If you say to somebody, ‘You should be doing fairy tales,’ it’s like saying, ‘Don’t be risky,’” Catmull said. “We’re saying, ‘Tell us what’s driving you.’”

Bonnie Arnold, an animation veteran who most recently produced DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” said animated films must vie in the cineplex with effects-laden action films that a generation ago might have been considered more mature fare.

“You see elementary school kids standing in line to see ‘Iron Man’ or ‘Transformers,’ ” Arnold said. “To be honest, that’s who we’re all competing with on some level.”

It was a curious piece to see prominently displayed on page-one of Hollywood’s major newspaper. It was almost as if Disney was hedging its bet against possible low box office expectations. Ed Catmull seemed to back peddle yesterday afternoon, responding to the article on his Facebook page with this:

A headline in today’s LA Times erroneously reported that the Disney fairy tale is a thing of the past, but I feel it is important to set the record straight that they are alive and well at Disney and continue this week with Tangled, a contemporary retelling of a much loved story. We have a number of projects in development with new twists that audiences will be able to enjoy for many years to come. – Ed Catmull

That was certainly a carefully worded statement. I’m glad that fairy tales are alive and well “this week”. Personally, I hope the quote in the article — the one about encouraging filmmakers to break with safe and predictable formulas and to push creative boundaries — is true. There’s nothing wrong with re-telling a great fairy tale, but to truly live up to Walt Disney’s vision the studio needs to move beyond tired public domain fables and push itself in new directions. I sincerely wish them luck with that.


  • College Student

    It is a very interesting marketing strategy. They’re trying to manipulate the market into a sense of scarcity on a product by saying they wont have it anymore. You tell the public this is the last “princess” movie for a long time and so all the mothers and daughters will rush out to see that last Princess film on the big screen for the foreseeable future. Good Luck Disney, I look forward to Tangled regardless if its “the last fairy tale film” you guys do for a while.

    • Frank Ziegler

      Yes ! Similar to the , “Buy it now before it goes in the vault”. Isn’t it great to have people tell us what we’re going to watch and when?

    • Lib

      I don’t think many people will know that this is supposedly their last princess film, even if it was in the LA Times. This is the kind of stuff that only movie geeks care and learn about. So Lasseter and Catmull probably mean it.

      However, the problem with the fairy tale movies is not the princess, the fairy tale or Iron Man playing next door. The problem is that they are simply not telling very good stories, which turns those films into even more childish products than what they already look.

  • http://adreamer49.wordpress.com/ Jacob

    I agree that Disney needs to push themselves in a new direction. I hope what Ed Catmull and John Lasseter claim is true. I hope they really try to push the individual artist into pitching new and unique ideas that have a lot of heart and vision behind them. To do that though they need to create a atmosphere where the artists feel SAFE. The artists need to feel as though they can bring up an idea they are passionate about without the huge fear of it being stolen or corrupted.

    I think fairy tales did well with Walt Disney because he was passionate about those kind of stories. Fairy tales were right up Walt’s ally. However, this does not mean they are up everyone’s ally. Walt created a studio that had a much broader range then just the reinterpretation of fairy tales.

    In the beginning of the new golden age for the Disney Animation Studios, they created some great fairy tale musicals such as Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Alladin. I think those were successful because the artists behind them were not burnt out from making musical fairy tales at the time. However, personally the artist seem a little stuck now. They seem to feel like they either need to try to compete with their old “fairy tale” legacy, or the new Pixar legacy.

    Walt Disney Animation needs to figure out a way to find their OWN VOICE. I think they should look to both old Disney and Pixar for inspiration and I think they need to build on the foundations Walt created. But, at the end they need to do what they feel led to do. They have enough passionate and creative artist to create some magnificent films that can push the animation industry forward. They just need the artist’s vision to lead the way.

    To Walt, movie making was never about making a lot of money, he only tried to make money so he could make more movies.

  • eeteed

    “…Catmull said he and Lasseter have been encouraging filmmakers to break with safe and predictable formulas and push creative boundaries…”

    chris sanders and “american dog” being the prime example of how they do this.

  • James

    Of course in one way this is exactly like Disney. In 19 animated films and 30 years, Walt Disney himself only made 3 princess films. In the 90′s revival, the company made 3 in 4 years, and more in a short space of time if films like Pochanotas, Mulan, Hercules are included. They’ve made 2 in a row for this second revival. Disney didn’t always use fairytales, he used all sorts of books and ideas – Dumbo, 101 Dalmatians, Fantasia. There’s a big difference between what people think Disney did and what he actually did, a trap even the company have fallen into in the past.

  • Jorge Garrido

    I would have loved to have seen a high-quality, new fairy tale from a filmmaker who loves Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm… unfortunately, that filmmaker was fired from her film last month.

  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    “Tired public domain fables,” if told as strongly as their original versions might actually make for good movies. SNOW WHITE proves this point. The problem isn’t with the source material, it’s with the lack of imagination in the filmmakers. They lust after IRONMAN and SPIDERMAN. (Indeed, THE INCREDIBLES had identical scenes as SPIDERMAN 2 – though they were made at the same time.)
    The problem is that movies out of LA these days are designed for 18 year old boys. Unless, of course, it’s WINNIE THE POOH, then it’s designed for 8 year old girls.

    • ShouldBeWorkin’

      My impression is that films may be designed for 18 year old boys all the time knowing that’s what makes 10 year old boys want to see it.

  • BJ Wanlund

    A) That’s a whole lotta hooey.
    B) There’ll be MORE princess movies, you watch.

    BJ

  • Was my face red

    It’s good that they might move on, but sad to see the Snow Queen roped in with all the pink fairy fare. A brave, non-cutified, graphically distinctive version of the Snow Queen could actually be a fesh and exciting movie.

    • Scarabim

      I couldn’t agree with you more. After reading a comment at the TAG blog about a Russian-made version of Snow Queen, I rented it on my Roku box last night..and first of all, SHAME on Universal for not fully restoring that little masterpiece, and second, SHAME on the Disney folk for shelving their version of it. If it was a faithful adaptation and had any of the charm of the Russian version, a Disney version of The Snow Queen could be a magnificent film. And I don’t think Disney would have any trouble attracting audiences of both genders and all ages to it. A good story plussed by Disney has ALWAYS attracted the masses.

    • http://los-utopicos.blogspot.com allari

      i second that. A dark atmospheric and visually imposing film would match the harsh russian atmposphere and sense of urgency of the original tale.

      • Was my face red

        Why do I always make a typo in my comments? I’ve now been off to see the Russian version and I’m even more convinced this is a strong commercial project if adapted with a little courage and vision. Quick, let’s make it ourselves before Tim Burton gets his hands on it and casts his wife!

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    They will close and book Winnie the pooh after that movie.

    They have forgotten the formula of lion king.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Hmmm.
    I wonder that instead of exclaiming “We shall not make any more fairy tale films”, they should instead exclaim “We shall not make any more shitty films!”.
    Then they could STILL make fairy tails.

    • ShouldBeWorkin’

      …And have executives and marketing leave the film makers alone. Have them follow the filmakers; not the other way around.

  • Inkan1969

    Well, if they’re swearing off Disney Princess movies for now, can I make a pitch for furry movies instead? :-) Joking aside, I always preferred stuff like “The Fox and the Hound”, “The Rescuers Down Under”, “The Great Mouse Detective” and “Bambi” over the fairy tale flicks.

    • Scarabim

      I also agree with you…I think Disney needs to make another 2D film with animal characters, that is, if it finds a story as strong and resonant as The Lion King. A tall order, I know…

  • http://www.pantoufledeverre.blogspot.com wd_kimmy

    I have mixed feelings about that.I am glad it is the last of their bubble gum Hannah Montanna fairy tales. But if they would take a different approach to it, it could be their signature! A story like the Snow Queen has tons of opportunities for action and scary scenes.

    The just have to change the way a fairy tale must be done in their eyes. They have puched the receipe to far.

  • http://www.pantoufledeverre.blogspot.com wd_kimmy

    I have mixed feelings about that.I am glad it is the last of their bubble gum Hannah Montanna fairy tales. But if they would take a different approach to it, it could be their signature! A story like the Snow Queen has tons of opportunities for action and scary scenes.

    The just have to change the way a fairy tale must be done in their eyes. They have puched the receipe to far.

  • The Gee

    3D is being marketed again, isn’t it?

    Which ever way the wind is blowing money will determine some of the future features.
    Perhaps that is a bit cyncical on my part, I dunno. It’d be great if every feature slated to be released was initially driven by the passion of one person… the director, for instance.
    I just don’t know if that is likely for Disney films. Some, maybe.

    And, the notion that fairy tales or something similar will be abandoned…I kind of doubt that. The thing is Disney, as a corporation with a lot of companies, has a lot of properties to choose from, to mine for gold. Disney Animation doesn’t need to rely on looking outside for the Next Pooh bear, for instance. It could but it could already have it sitting around, too.

    None of this matters too much though. It is just stuff thrown out before a release. News happens during other times.

  • http://www.warrenleonhardt.com w

    I’ve been hearing rumours that they’re teaming up with smaller production companies to tinker with ‘Dark’ fairy tales for children, but trying to get them done outside of Features & on a lower budget…just rumours, mind you.

    At any rate, I still would have loved to see ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’ updated somehow. Giant killing never goes out of style.

    So few parents actually read these stories to kids anymore, I wonder how much longer they’ll live if they’re not translated to screens?

  • Sherrie

    I went and read the article on the LA times site. The part where they admit that Lasseter retooled the entire production to make it a musical angered me. They could have made a princess movie in a new direction, but instead actively decided to make it a formulaic Disney musical! They’d rather stick with what they know than take a chance to actually try something different.

  • Uli Meyer

    The Snow Queen isn’t a princess story. It is dark and mysterious, a story about growing up told in H.C. Andersen fairy tale metaphors. I’m glad to hear they stopped the production on this, it would have been horrible to see this wonderful story told as a princess movie. Phew…

    • Scarabim

      Well, they shouldn’t try to tell it as a princess movie. They should tell it as a story about a brave little girl who goes on a quest to rescue her playmate from the clutches of the Snow Queen. If the Disney artists need any pointers on how to do so, they need only watch the Russian animated version of the story. Despite its deterioration, it’s still magnificent.

      • gene schiller

        Lev Atamanov’s justly praised “Snow Queen” has been fully restored by Krupny Plan…of course, you’ll need a region free player.

      • http://youtube.com/user/Mesterius1 Mesterius

        “If the Disney artists need any pointers on how to do so, they need only watch the Russian animated version of the story.”

        Yeah, and additionally, reread H. C. Andersen’s original fairy tale. I haven’t yet seen the Russian film (the comments here certainly make me curious), but that story is probably my favorite Andersen fairy tale (one of my all-time favorite fairy tales, for that matter). It’s am amazingly powerful tale of friendship and growth, and it manages to be both dramatic, funny and touching – perfect material for an animated feature. Now to see if I can find that Russian incarnation anywhere! :)

  • http://room23store.blogspot.com/ paburrows

    The Disney company said the exact same thing in the 80′s right before they made Oliver and company. a few years later they creates The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc, etc, etc. Give it 5 years and I bet that we’ll get more fairy tale/princess movies. Just look at what the Disney stores focus on, Princess, Tinkerbell and Cars. We’re going to get original stuff from time to time like Lilo & Stitch, etc, but the focus will be what brings in money to make up for any of the risky movies that don’t bring in money. Even the so called more original stuff like Dragon or Shrek were taken from a book.

    • HughFire

      This is exactly what I was saying – there was a time when they departed from fairy tales for a while and launched a string of ok but somewhat forgettable movies including, Rescuers, Fox and the Hound, Oliver and Company, Great Mouse Detective et al. Not BAD films – just they were slipping until they started a new golden age by returning to fairy tales. I think even beyond the princess or even the story – its the wonder and magic that make those movies enter our minds and hearts. The whole girls not wanting to be princesses thing is not new or that princesses are somehow bad role models – its been hashed before and again. These movies that are at Disney’s core should be celebrated.Instead we have everyone in the world wanting to draw away from movies that are at their core escapism fantasy with often a little lesson about being yourself, or taking a risk or integrity. They are never mean to be treatises on social behavior. In fact when it starts to become to heavy handed in social commentary we end up with a hackneyed mess of a film trying to show just how “with it” the producers are.

      I agree that Disney should broaden its scope beyond western european tales, but there is so much fantasy and wonder to be had in folk literature that has yet to be mined. Even within the realms of Grimm and Anderson there are stories with male characters that are waiting to be told. The problem is that the cash cow of merchandising doesn’t favor a story where the Princess isn’t the central character or toy. These days, it really is about the merchandising after all – not the integrity of the film – those seem to be turning into 90 minute commercials for the lunch box.

  • Blasko

    The issue isn’t princes or princesses at all. The trick is to make films that are actually ABOUT something. Young people (and old) face great challenges today — challenges with labor practices, human rights, poverty, climate changes, energy consumption. We need good stories to show us a way to navigate these challenges peacefully. I know Pixar already claims the high ground on this, having made Wall-e as an ecological parable and all. But for all their bluster against landfills, they certainly produced a lot of disposable plastic toys through the use of cheap Asian labor. I’d like to see a story with integrity, and I’d like to see an artistic studio that lives up to that standard.

    • purin

      Now there’ a good question: Is it possible for lavish, high-budget animation to exist without masses of merchandise to fund it?

  • purin

    I enjoyed PATF, and I think I’ll enjoy Tangled, but I won’t deny there does need to be a change of direction. Even the word “Fairy tale” has a very pretty pretty princessy meaning now, and there have been plenty of twists on fairy tales from other studios. Not only that, but since 2000 Disney basically sold its “Princess” movies as being purely for little girls into the cupcake dress princess thing, with lots of cheap merchandise with cut-and-paste clip art of characters with ever-smiling faces (conflict? What conflict?) and lined up and posed as if they were all the same person from exactly the same movie but in different dresses, so if they want to attract more people (not just boys but girls who’ve grown out of or rebelled from the pink pretty princess phase… oh, and older people who aren’t babysitting), they’re definitely going to need to widen their scope.

    If they do more, they need to explore a new direction and, provided they don’t over-formula it and try to do the same things to every story every time (I think this is part of what happened after the original 90s successes), The Snow Queen could have been a good opportunity for that.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com Gagaman

    Yeah to be fair they have put out Enchanted, princess and the Frog and Tangled in a matter of just a few years so we have defiantly had more than a fair share of princess films from Disney as of late, so a break from that sort of thing would be quite nice..

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    “Catmull said he and Lasseter have been encouraging filmmakers to break with safe and predictable formulas and push creative boundaries.”

    Actions speak much louder than words. The actions we are all seeing are the cancellation of original projects in favor of another Pooh film, Cars 2, and Monsters Inc 2. Also, what happens to the crews of these films? It must be hard to put out a quality product when you spend a ton of time, money, and energy training up the 80 percent of your crew you just hired.

    • http://deleted OtherDan

      How can you argue with that? Great points Mr. Bishop.

  • Vzk

    Wait a minute.

    Isn’t “Brave”, PIXAR’s next movie after Cars 2, a fairy tale (albeit an original one)?

    • http://youtube.com/user/Mesterius1 Mesterius

      Yeah, but since that film is from Pixar, and not from Disney, they probably reckon it will make money anyway. Pixar has a GOOD repuation these days, after all!

      …though I wish we could someday get the explanation for Brenda Chapman’s removal from her film. Wasn’t her version ‘commercial’ enough or something?

  • Autumn

    That’s FINE with me. As if little girls aren’t bombarded enough with stereotypes they need to fit into. The question is, is this the end of Disney marketing towards girls or are they going to find something else girls would enjoy besides putting on dresses, looking perfect and finding the perfect man?

  • Steven M.

    I just hope the “break with safe and perdicable formulas and push creative boundaries” quote comes true.

  • Alissa

    Catmull said he and Lasseter have been encouraging filmmakers to break with safe and predictable formulas and push creative boundaries.

    …Buh? Does that go for Pixar films too? I’m almost as tired of “dude starts off as a jerk and becomes less of a jerk due to wacky sidekicks/adventures and generic heartwarming” as I am of sugar-coated princess stuff.

    Though there might be hope for Disney yet if the Mort rumors are true as long as the keep Mr. Pratchett’s humor and wit intact, that is.

    • http://www.artofaraya.com Danny Araya

      Are you saying that Pixar movies follow that formula? If so, then I have to disagree.

      • Was my face red

        The original Toy Story plot did, but they veered away from it. And Cars does, but he’s hardly a jerk, just a little lost. Up does have the grumpy lead too. But a lead character with an emotional void that needs filling is Campbells ‘The Heroes Journmey’ 101. Those stories work if you don’t feel the formuala, but in less skillfull hands all you get is a very familar feeling movie.

        Even Terry Pratchitt tends to have loser heroes… before doing a lot of things with them you don’t really expect, but the Uk love of losers doesn’t play so well to US exec sensibilities (trust me. I know!) so I do fear his very quirky voice will be lost.

        How To Train Your Dragon (a very Terry kind of book) came out very differently after Hollywood had a fiddle with it’s loser hero.

      • Alissa

        Finding Nemo: Neurotic dad as ‘the jerk’ from most children’s eyes, learns to lighten up through a ‘grand adventure’ with a sidekick with short-term memory loss.

        Cars: Workaholic car obsessed with stardom learns to get his priorities in line with the help of a redneck tow truck/washed up has-been.

        Ratatouille: Self absorbed Remy helps others beside himself with functionally useless human sidekick.

        Toy Story: Woody is jealous of Buzz and worried about being replaced, learns to accept and share. Comes with delusional space ranger, potato heads etc. The same goes for Up, The Incredible, and probably every other movie they’ve made accept for Wall-E.

        Seriously every character has some sort of flaw that gets ‘fixed’ during some vital movie moment. There’s little to no plot that extends beyond the character’s so-called ‘development’; other characters act merely as accessories to the main. It’s exactly the same as Dreamworks and as predictable.

        It’s not necessarily Bad mind you, but it does get a tad dull. Considering a cartoon could technically do anything the artist wants it’s just strange that Pixar doesn’t push the envelope a bit more, since they’re supposed to be creator-driven and all.

  • Trevor

    “Catmull said he and Lasseter have been encouraging filmmakers to break with safe and predictable formulas and push creative boundaries.”

    Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Fairy Tale, Monsters Inc 2, Newt (Cancelled)

    • Marco

      Why did you mention Toy Story 3? Because it’s a sequel, it played it safe? It took some bold steps in the story department and was a wonderful film.

      • Trevor

        Personally, I would have rather seen some new characters than a Toy Story 3, even after watching it. I feel the same way about all of the upcoming sequels.

        It was a fine film, but I had more fun watching Despicable Me and was more immersed in Dragon this year.

      • Marco

        That has nothing to do with the quote you pulled. TS3 didn’t stay with a predictable formula. It certainly pushed boundaries, creating this amazing prison-escape film that had one of the most emotional endings of any animated film I’ve seen.

        Funny you mention Dragon: that was far more formulaic than Toy Story 3 as far as story goes. One of the most predictable stories I’ve seen from any film I’ve seen this year, animated or not.

  • http://mayberabies.blogspot.com Raven M. Molisee

    I always wondered if Disney was so successful precisely because they chose excellent source material. Look at the movies they’ve made successful.. Once you have a strong enough story that works on its own, no matter what you dangle from it, nothing will actually *destroy* it.

    This is why I’m actually quite concerned about their supposed decision to abandon fairy tales. If they can’t make a very specific, clearly laid-out narrative work, how on EARTH are they going to start something from scratch? I’m not saying don’t be brave (I’ve wanted Disney to venture out of their box for as far back as I can remember), I just think its ludicrous to pronounce an end to fairy tales. Its just as ludicrous as when they abandoned 2D all together, blaming the medium itself for their lackluster performances.

  • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

    I think it’s a non-story story: Disney’s not doing [blank].. until they decide to do them again

  • http://thatssokraven.livejournal.com Kelly Tindall

    I’m fine with little girls rejecting the princess stereotype, but jumping straight into the spoiled brat teenager phase isn’t exactly a step up. I was hoping their research would be more along the lines of ‘girls want to ride dragons’ or ‘girls want to be pirates’ or, at the least, ‘girls would like to have adventures.’

    • HughFire

      “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere – I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone enderstand – I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”

      Belle

    • HughFire

      “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere – I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand, to have someone understand, I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”

  • Grayson Ponti

    Yes I do agree it’s time to break some old formulas and trends and move on to new innovative ideas but it is essential that the magic and charm that is the signature of Disney films stay. Another Black Cauldron would be a bomb. What I think the Disney studio should do is take elements and archetypes from sources like mythology, Shakespeare, Hans Christian Anderson, etc. and turn them into completely different worlds and change up some of the characters. Stories are timeless but it is always good to change the setting and some of the basic elements.
    My complaint though is why not make musicals any more. Music is a vital part of this medium and I always enjoy having it in animated films. Music is a fundamental of animation and bad films should not decrease its importance.

    • purin

      Black Cauldron could have been awesome. It had legions of the undead! What’s not to love?

      Oh, yeah. The fact that I didn’t really care about the characters.

      There is a type of musical (and its numbers) that really started with The Little Mermaid and got a bit overdone and predictable. The old Disney movies had songs and musical scenes, but they weren’t “musicals” in the way the 90s movies were. It’s possible to move a little away from that without moving away from musicals altogether.

  • James E. Parten

    In all the rigmarole above, one questions seems not to have been asked.

    Is it possible that the Disney people think that they are fresh outta princesses?

    After all, a lot of the major fairy tales have been taken! There may be stuff in the collections of the brothers Grimm (who were more collectors than authors) or in H, C. Andersen, but it seems that most of the biggies have already been done.

    That said, the idea of doing “dark” fairy tales might have some merit. I understand that the stories as originally collected in “Kinder- und Hausmaerchen” were pretty dark as it were! (Yes, I know I mis-spelled it, but this computer has no facility for umlauts!)

  • OtherDan

    All that article says to me is that there are no fairy tales in the pipeline or on the horizon. “Never say never”-I’d be willing to bet anyone that if Disney Feature Animation persists, there will be another fairy tale told by Disney sometime in the future. Basically, they have exploited princess’ over the years and that well is tapped out now. I think they are wrong to think that trends should dictate stories, and that classic fairytales are “safe”. Disney has played them safe. But, there is plenty of content and visuals to be extracted from classic tales. They can take something like the Snow Queen and adhere to the storyline. They know the story is solid. So, why not concentrate on masterful visual storytelling? What did I get out of that article? They are hoping Tangle does well and proves them right. We shall see. I saw that Japanese Tangled trailer and it was much better than the Shrekified trailer we’ve been seeing. So, there is hope.

  • jerome

    I think that the latest news about Disney working on a “Dicworld” adaptation show the kind of movies and new takes on fairy tales they want to go with :
    http://blueskydisney.blogspot.com/2010/10/animated-progress.html
    http://blueskydisney.blogspot.com/2010/11/mort-info.html

  • OtherDan

    Why does that feel like some kind of redemption of the ill-fated The Black Cauldron? It also reminds me of the way Dreamworks brought “How to Train Your Dragon” to life. it’s an interesting story though…

    The thing that struck me about what Roy Disney explained about Walt and his intentions for Disney entertainment was that the stories they tell should be family stories-something the whole family can enjoy. I’m not so sure this story of Mort is in line with that. So, I wonder what it means to be a Disney film then? I hope they have an answer to that question.

    • John A

      I always thought Disney should take another stab at “The Black Cauldron”, only this time as a live action film.

      I’m a lifelong animation fan, but even the biggest Disney geek understands that the movie somehow falls a little short. Sometimes there’s just only so much that animation can give you in terms of acting and character development, plus it would have given Disney something to compete with the Harry Potter films.

      • http://deleted OtherDan

        All I know is that there were opposing factions when the movie [Black Cauldron] was made and that Ron and John were on the side of straying away from the safe Disney films. Also, Tim Burton’s more inventive character designs were squashed. I think deep down they probably wanted to test their ideas, and maybe a movie like Mort is their opportunity. For better or worse, I think Disney should veer toward “wholesome” family entertainment as their MO. There will always be a market of families wanting to watch movies that they can safely share with their children. That doesn’t mean they need to stray away from dark villains-the early Disney films didn’t. It adds texture. I’m just afraid they might go too far from what Disney is and upset their base in doing so.

  • Dave O.

    Blarb fart poop. Er, I agree. No, I disagree. Sorry I guess my comment was too thought-provoking so I’ll just step in line.

  • Grayson Ponti

    Oh I forgot to add. Has anyone noticed that no fairy tales have been hits since Shrek? maybe Shrek is the Blazing Saddles of princess movies.

  • Caresse

    Maybe looking to other cultures will present more folktales for the Disney folks to interpret. Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings the Blues” alone illustrates how beautiful a folk tale from the Hindu religion might be. Goddess Kali alone would be an AWESOME character – defying both what it means to be female and what it means to be an antagonist.

    Or perhaps, on a more social-political front, maybe an Iranian folk tale, similar in content to Persepolis?

    Or hell, what about a story about two male hamsters who want to live together but are told they can’t.

    There are a gold mine of other intriguing and relevant stories that Disney might be too clean-cut to get away with. Maybe their branding is their whole problem?

  • http://www.joegilland.com Joseph Gilland

    I had the chance to see an advanced screening of Tangled on Sunday, and I was quite prepared to not like it. I was extremely surprised that it was quite brilliantly done, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Never thought I would.

    I don’t think the genre matters that much if a film is extremely well done. Anything will hold our attention and satisfy if it is well enough done. Lion King actually had a very fractured and weak story line, but incredibly compelling characters, sickeningly catchy songs, and individual sequences that were utterly unforgettable.

    Tangled is a musical, and I’m not a big fan of musicals, but the music never overpowered the film, and often did a tidy job of telling the story. In the first 20 minutes of the Princess and the Frog there we FOUR over produced, overbearing songs…total over kill, I almost puked!

    All that to say, never mind what genre Disney chooses, just do it well, and, like Lasseter suggests, avoid the overly cliched, try to break a little new ground. You can do that no matter the genre….

    • http://www.lacimorgancreations.com Laci Morgan

      Yes, I agree…I was prepared to be disappointed by it, but was pleasantly surprised when I saw an advanced screening last night. The musical numbers didn’t seem distracting or unnecessary, and told the story well, and Rapunzel was a likeable heroine. That, and it’s been a while since an animated movie has made me laugh out loud, so that surprised me as well.

      And I LOVED the animation work on Maximus! Made me want my own horse even more….. :)

  • Stephen Levinson

    So, finally some new ideas?

  • http://youtube.com/user/Mesterius1 Mesterius

    Yeah, it’s interesting to see Disney adapt something as atypical (for them) as Terry Pratchett. Now if they could only come up with some great original stories – such as Lilo and Stitch was – as well.