Yesterday’s New York Times featured an interview with John Lasseter and some interesting bits can be gleaned from the article. One thing I found quite telling is the fact that 60% of Disney’s upcoming Meet the Robinsons has been scrapped and redone in the past year. Most animated features are reworked heavily nowadays, but the extent to which this film has been revamped is a clear sign of how poorly managed the old Disney Feature Animation was; judging from the way Disney has barely been promoting the film, you get the feeling that they would have scrapped the entire film had it not already been so deep into production.
Another piece of info is that WDFA is planning to move out of their semi-iconic (and architecturally dysfunctional) hat building and into brand-new headquarters in Glendale. At first, I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s a huge and unnecessary expenditure to build another studio, even if the current studio does leave a lot to be desired.” But after giving it more thought, I realized what Lasseter and Ed Catmull were doing. What’s notable is not that they’re building a better animation studio, but that they’re moving the whole animation operation off the Burbank lot, far away from the studio’s acrid corporate culture, and creating a separate campus that will hopefully be dominated by passionate artists and storytellers. Looking at it from that perspective, it’s a daring and excellent business decision.
While Meet the Robinsons has a better-than-average chance of falling flat on its face at the box office, and Lasseter himself has raised eyebrows in recent months with some of his decisions, such as the dismissal of American Dog‘s Chris Sanders, in general, I feel Lasseter is making smart decisions. I still have high hopes that Disney Feature Animation can be turned around under his stewardship.