Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Adventures By Disney...

No, this is not a story about Disney's travel agency and the deals it offers you if you plan your vacation through it...

What am I talking about then?

Film. Motion Pictures. Movies...

Huh, you say?

Allow me to illuminate for you. With a previous article I touched on some of Disney's past films. From Walt's animated features to his hybrid live-action/animated films like the memorable "Mary Poppins" to his live action "Treasure Island" or "Swiss Family Robinson" there was particular type of film that was defined as a Disney Film. Walt Disney Productions has went through several evolutionary moments. The most obvious being when Walt was no longer around... the languishing period of the 70's. The Eisner Era that changed the company around in the mid 80's brought about a change with Touchstone's ability to market pictures that were deemed too controversial or adult in them. This period also included Disney's "Second Golden Age" of animation.

During the last couple of years under Eisner the company was going through another change... with audience taste ever-evolving, there was a focus on a broader acceptance of films that the public would accept, or expect rather of a Disney Film. With the promotion of Oren Aviv to the position of President of Walt Disney Pictures, Dick Cook now believes he has the right person to help him make Disney's films box office gold.

What will change?

Well if you look at the pattern started by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" then you have the right direction. The beginnings of the studios current path were set during this period with films like "POTC:Black Pearl" and "National Treasure" which Aviv had a great deal to do with.

Essentially, when it comes to Disney's tent pole movies, its epics that will define its summer releases and holiday openings... the answer is adventure.

Adventures by Disney.

From the release over the last few years of the Pirate films to the Narnia series, the coming slate are a departure from Eisner and Katzenberg's philosophy of developing small films with writers contracted for the studio and avoiding big spectacles... for the most part. WDP did try to create its own franchise like the "Rocketeer," but had little success. Many of the chances it had to have one of these series Eisner simply wouldn't agree to spend the money on. He let "The Lord of the Rings" go because he didn't "get it" and wasn't willing to put up the money to support it. It was only through a partnership with Walden Media that they agreed to do the "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," since Eisner was worried about the financial cost. Only years after watching other studios create franchises like "The Matrix" did he finally agree to pony up the cash to make a film like "Black Pearl".

So over the few years we can look forward to many films under the Disney brand that we would have never thought to have seen under the Disney label just a few years ago. We had the last(yeah, right...) of the Pirates series end this summer. Later this year a sequel to "National Treasure" comes out called "Book of Secrets." If this film is a success then expect to see at least one more movie of Benjamin Franklin Gates. Next summer we have the next in the Narnia series "Prince Caspian." If that film does well, and it should, there will be a new Narnia film once every year until they've exhausted the book series. In summer of 2009 we'll be treated to the epic Arabian adventure "The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time." This will be the Mouse's tent pole release for that Summer... can you imagine the plans WDI wants to draft up for Tokyo DisneySEA's Arabian Port if this appears to be a success? If all goes well, we could see "Jungle Cruise" the movie, later that year unless production gets postponed. Then we have the unannounced "The Lone Ranger" set for release summer 2010. There are at least two or three other adventure films Disney has in development for the next few years, but they are too far back to discuss at this time.

As I stated in an earlier article... change happens. Sometimes for good, other times for bad. We happen to be in one of the good times, thankfully. The films we see coming out of the Disney Studios till the end of the decade will demonstrate the magic and wonder we all know and love about Walt Disney. The dream is still alive. You can be sure when you step into a darkened theater to see a Disney film... you're in for an adventure.


Joe Shelby said...

I'm nervous about this Prince of Persia thing. They already tried a middle-eastern (plus american western) adventure with Hidalgo, trying also to draw on the draw of LotR's Viggo Mortenson, only to have it flounder in the box office, barely making itself back once DVD sales were figured in.

Right now, this country is about as uninterested in the Middle East as it could possibly get. All the desert reminds us of is how much hate is out there, how much destruction (some of it caused by us) and how much we want it all to just stop.

Any movie that tries to paint that culture in a positive light (even the classical and more enlightened past) is simply not going to fly.

Honor Hunter said...

Hey Joe,

I've read the script... it's quite good. It's a fun, epic adventure and if done properly could be a great film. I've never played the game so I can't say how closely it follows it.

I'm still waiting for them to announce casting and one wonders when Michael Bay will officially be announced.

Anonymous said...

Oh god. Michael Bay?

Unknown said...

I spent all last summer watching and helping my Sister-in-law and nephew play that game. I felt at the time that it would make a great movie.