Tuesday, August 19, 2008
A Future So Bright...
Ok, let's not be Pollyannish here...
I'm not trying to sound overly optimistic but the buzz is really good and the future looks bright.
Animation. Disney Animation specifically. Theatrically, exactly.
You see, over the past couple of months I've had several of my contacts, Bothan and the like, contact me as to how they felt things were going. John Lasseter has been in charge of Disney's animation division for almost two and a half years and many people are asking:
"How much is different?"
A lot. A whole lot.
And I'm not just talking about the swanky new furniture that they've got or the layout that the artist cubicles are now in. The perceptions that artist have there is a world away from where it was just three years ago. I have a feeling that the feeling today is a world away from where the feelings, perceptions and reality are three years from now. And by that I mean in the positive.
Not only have people I've spoken with had good things to say about "Bolt", they've had even better things to say about the next few films down the Disney animation pipeline.
The screenings that have occurred with "Bolt" have had animators talking about how much more heart, humor and depth this film has over the last four or five Disney animated features. When general audiences get a look at the film this Thanksgiving they'll also note the change in quality and perception too. And with the new animated shorts that WDAS is making it's going expand what audience can expect from Disney in the future.
Everything I've heard about "The Frog and the Princess" is really glowing. About a third of the film is finished animation right now and the first act is a return to the classic films of the Second Golden Age... one that reminds us why we love Disney animation. The story men are still working on the second act and third acts, tweaking and tightening the story structure so that the film dazzles the audience, both boy and girl, child and child-like... and it's something the animators over in the Hat Building are very, very proud of.
From what I've heard regarding "Rapunzel" is promising as well. Glen Keane and Dean Wellins' movie has an enchanting first act. The second act is getting stronger and they're working on the third act... but don't worry, there's still two years before we see this gem. The animation though, is jaw dropping with its painterly quality. It's a moving painting and while "Princess" may be evoking comparisons to "The Little Mermaid", this film is getting comparisons to "Beauty and the Beast"... considering that's my favorite animated Disney film that's something I'm really looking forward to seeing.
As for "The King of the Elves", well that film is truly in the embryonic state and although the story structure is being worked out and they've produced some beautiful concept art, the film is a long way away. Four years is a long way off and things on the project could go in different directions. As of now, the project is scheduled to be CGI, but that's not written in stone. But it's still likely, though...
The great news is that hand drawn animation is no longer a subject that is taboo, it's encouraged and actually respected as the art it should always have been. When "Princess" comes out Christmas next year I have a feeling that there are going to be a few things greenlit that Disney Geeks/Fans are going to just love... but a great deal is riding on that film. Not that I have doubts about it, just that I'm trying to explain how much pressure is on the shoulder of this film and its directors.
There are a few ideas that animators and artist are working within the walls in Burbank after that, but we won't start to hear anything solid on new projects until we get closer to the "Princess" release. But I can tell you that the people that are pitching projects inside Disney animation no longer have the fear that Suits will wind up diluting or destroying the ideas they have. Because like me, they know the future's bright...