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Next on the Disney 2D drawing board: Winnie The Pooh

Some disappointing news out of the Licensing Expo now going on in Las Vegas. Disney has officially announced their next hand-drawn animated theatrical: a new Winnie the Pooh movie. The new Pooh feature is planned for release in spring 2011.

This is a real let down for me. I was hoping the The Princess and the Frog was the starting point for a new era of original hand drawn masterpieces. Greenlighting a new Pooh is an understandable commercial business decision, but it only seems to reinforce the stereotype of what hand drawn cartoons have become: a babysitter – and it’s a regression of the medium’s true potential.

Disney needs not only to reclaim its mastery of this art form, but to push it forward. I fail to see how Pooh will accomplish this. However, if it keeps artists employed while more ambitious projects are developed, that could be a good thing. And who’s to say a good Winnie the Pooh film can’t be created?

The studio also announced today plans to “pump more enthusiasm into the world’s largest licensed character franchise: Mickey Mouse.”

“That effort, said consumer products chairman Andy Mooney, could include classic footage of an animated Mickey mashed up with contemporary Disney properties, with the resulting creations running on the Disney Channel. “Through extensive research with kids, we found they actually love the original Mickey Mouse property,” Mooney said.

Yeah, mashing classic Mickey cartoons into Hannah Montana is exactly what kids want. Hoo-boy!