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...

22 comments:

Morgan said...

Thanks for the great report - I am really looking forward to the release of these classic animation films. As much as I love the computer animation, I really have a soft spot in my heart for the classic.

corruption said...

Still not sold on Bolt (saw the trailer for the 10th time the other day). I will (once again) be there opening night, hoping for the best.

As for Frog Princess, I simply fear that this was the wrong film to choose to herald back traditional animation. That teaser didn't do much for me either, though I have higher hopes for it than Bolt at this point. I'm rooting for it, just because I don't want to lose hand-drawn AGAIN. That said, I don't want to root for a stinker...

Rapunzel looks gorgeous, and as long as they've gone the opposite of the "Shrek" direction they were rumored to be heading in, I can't wait to see it, if only for the "moving painting" aspect of it.

As for the past few years, I still think "Meet the Robinsons" was a surprisingly fantastic film. The Tom Selleck thing was weird (but worked), and otherwise (to me) is the "Great Mouse Detective" of this new age (at least for the sake of linearity -- I don't really think GMD is a "good" movie).

Anonymous said...

I wasn't really sold on Bolt,either, until I went to see the Dark Knight and the preview rolled up on the big screen. I noticed my other half laughing every time that Hamster popped up and now I know we're going to go see it.

I think I'm biased because of the original character designs, but really it could be a nice, solid well-made film.

I'm reallllllly hopeful for Princess and the Frog though. I love the New Orleans setting and the characters seem fun so far.

Brer Dan

Anonymous said...

Oh man, if this post isn't about drinking the Kool Aid, I don't know what is. You are letting rumors sway your decisions about films that are not even finished yet.

The fan boy in you spilled out on the page right here.

Honor Hunter said...

Sorry Anonymous,

What I was reporting was not rumors... it was from people that I know, value and respect. I didn't make any statements based on fanboy gossip...

I based it on trust. Trust from multiple sources that I know and you don't.

If you choose not to believe me, so be it. But as I said... being negative is easy... and in that case, you are drinking the Kool-Aid.

corruption said...

@honor,

One thing that consistently irks me:

You assume that you have connections that no one else has. Not that I actually think that the anonymous you're replying to actually knows anyone (though it's not beyond all doubt), but many of your readers/commenters probably do. They may even have more insider info than you.

Just trying to make a possibly valid point. And it's just bad form to drop anonymous sources as your justification.

Anonymous said...

"They may even have more insider info than you."

What the dude said. Many of us have connections you couldn't possibly imagine. Amazing but true. If you choose not to believe me, so be it.

Corruption nailed it. Your borderline arrogant attitude is particularly repulsive after comments such as this:

"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."

Placing Bolt above Robinsons regarding "heart"? Wow. Just wow. I'm guessing Steve Anderson isn't one of your Bothans.

The orphanage dropoff and Walt quote at the end got me tearing up. But then again, nothing spells "depth" like neurotic hamsters in acrylic balls. *yawn*

Your dentist must love you from all the sugary Kool-Aid you've been downing.

ehh123 said...

No one besides the animators has seen the completed film of "Bolt". Don't make opinions about the film just yet.

Honor Hunter said...

Corruption, you know the old saying when you assume...

I never assumed anyone didn't have connections, I was talking about my own. And being as I know them, I know that they are reliable. And as for placing "Bolt" above "MTR", that was my sources description not mine. As for "MTR", sorry but it was good, not great to me. I thought the middle act was weak and confusing... and I've met the director, Stephen Anderson... he's not one of my Bothans, he's a nice guy, a talented guy, but "MTR" is still not one of my favorites(Better than "Chicken Little" though)...

If you like it fine. But you've only seen two minutes of "Bolt" and you're judging it... from what I've seen and what I've been told it's a good film. I trust my connections and more importantly... I trust Lasseter.

anonymouse said...

Corruption do you really think Honor should divulge his sources so they can be fired? Or would you prefer he say nothing about ehat he's heard and just wait till each movie comes out?

Anonymous said...

I have to say that the Bolt trailer has gotten a good response from every movie-theatre audience I've seen it with. And frankly I can't wait to see it. I can't explain it, exactly...maybe because it seems to be a simple, solid story about a kid and her dog, and how much that dog loves his kid. It's not a high-flying high-concept film like Wall*E, or an off-the-wall incongruity like a rat wanting to be a chef. And I think that may be a good thing. Bolt brings out an emotional response in me like few recent film trailers have. I'm really looking forward to it. As for "Robinsons"...well, it had heart, to be sure, but almost none of the jokes worked, and the characters weren't particularly memorable IMO. In regards to "The Frog Princess"...I disliked the trailer, mostly because of the firefly. Ecch. The animation looked great and I do like the idea behind the film, but the trailer didn't do it for me. Hope the film itself is considerably better. I'm rooting for 2D to make a big comeback at Disney, so despite my indifference to the trailer I do hope the film will be great. There is no reason good 2D and good CGI animation can't exist side by side. Each has unique things to offer audiences. Anyway, I've gone on too long, will saw off now...

Kevin S. Willis said...

I have no trouble with the concept of The Frog Princess, but I do admit, the teaser trailer left me cold. Completely. Like watching a trailer for the fourth sequel to An American Tail or . . . I dunno . . . All Dogs Go to Heaven. But I try to recall that The Little Mermaid trailers did nothing to convey the real magic of the film (Beauty & The Beast had much better marketing, IMHO) so . . . I'm still hoping. Will probably go see in the theaters. I have a lot of confidence in Lasseter.


Bolt actually looks like a lot of fun. Not Wall*E or Incredibles, mind you, but certainly superior to, say, Chicken Little or Meet the Robinsons.

Right now, I'm still worried about The Frog Princess. I hope I'm way wrong. I'm betting I am. But, stll . . .

Kevin S. Willis said...

Honor Hunter,

Jeese. These people. Thanks for the great job you do. Thanks for sharing the information you glean from your connections which, quiet frankly, I trust a lot more than the "connections" of anyone anonymous. Which, when you think about it, just kind of makes sense.

More to the point (and I'm sure you realize this) the criticisms I've seen here, occasionally, of you or the blog fall way short of the mark.

I love this blog. Keep up the good work. I'm sure if you got some constructive criticism, you'd reflect upon it duly . . . unfortunately, none of the criticism I've seen here is remotely constructive. Or, actually, has any kind of point to it, or any sort of value, whatsoever.

Well, you will always be able to recognize an excellent blogger by those who level unfounded accusations and irrelevant criticisms against them.

Namasté

corruption said...

@anonymous

Quite the opposite. I worry that Honor's sources are being fed a bit of false info in order to weed them out (oftentimes). Honor just sometimes also needs to acknowledge that many of his readers are insiders, too.

@kevin

1. It's "geez" or "jeez"

2. I have no qualm with Honor, and hope that he enjoys our "quasi-adversarial" relationship. I enjoy what he has to say and make both positive and constructive comments. I was a little flustered today by his implication (through poor communication in this instance) that we are privileged to have him bestowing info upon us. Honestly, he does occasionally have info that no one else has, but I have to wonder how much of that is obfuscation from TWDC, WDI, etc. I worry for his sources and don't want Honor to have NOTHING to write about. That would suck. I really do enjoy his better efforts at blogging :)

Justin said...

Meet the Robinsons had a lot of heart but I feel that it failed in its execution. The timing on the jokes was off which is why the frequently fell flat, and the animation for most of the movie was very manic. The movie really needed to slow down at times and let things sink in. I think if John Lasseter had been brought on board much earlier it would have been a much better film.

Anonymous said...

Good grief, Honor's just letting us know what he heard. No need to be such drama queens about him implying he's got better connections than you or him blindly following rumors. Didn't get that sense at all reading this article, and it really wasn't any different from most of Honor's previous posts, so it looks like some are just looking for something to complain about with the content...

Personally I think there's this backlash against Pixar and Lasseter going around lately, and it's not just here but on other boards as well. With some people "over-praising" Pixar's recent films like Ratatouille and Wall-E which were really unconventional to say the least, I've found people who didn't quite agree with it might be balancing out the "over-praise" by "over-attacking."

So now that Pixar's big guns are in charge of Disney, anything positive that gets said about Disney's stuff is just fodder for the backlashers. Comes with the territory with being on top, I guess.

Justin said...

From Steve Hulett of the Animation Guild:

"On the other hand, one grizzled Disney vet said: 'Bolt is the best feature I've worked on in a long time. Better than the last four or five features, for sure.'"

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/disney-tuesday.html

Kevin S. Willis said...

@corruption:

Jeeze. You say toe-may-toe, I say tom-ah-toe . . . ;)

that we are privileged to have him bestowing info upon us.

I just didn't read what Honor was saying like that at all, which I guess is my point. I, too, hope he enjoys your quasi-adversarial relationship. On occasion, I've been disappointed by the folding, or languishing, of good blogs where the blogger, unfortunately, did not enjoy quasi-adversarial relationships so much.

But, it's all good.

Ashley Barton said...

Why is this something to argue about? Honestly, people.

But anyway, I totally agree. It's not like I have any connections or anything, but I'm really optimistic about these movies, especially Princess and the Frog. It's just got an amazing crew working on it, plus it's a return to traditional animation, which I beleive is here to stay. Nothing wrong with being optimistic.

(I've never posted on this blog before. I just stumbled apon it and figured I'd comment.)

ParrotHead said...

I was really excited when I read this post, feeling like it backed up my expectations of how WDFA would operate under Lasseter.

But then I forwarded it to an insider I know, and he said things aren't quite as rosy as I had hoped over there.

I wish I could share the details of his experience, but he asked me not to. Suffice it to say there are still some remnants of the pre-Lasseter corporate culture hanging on at WDFA.

krm ovsumyunguy said...

Maybe we shouldn't believe the TAG blog either. I mean, they didn't name their sources either?

Anonymous said...

"Suffice it to say there are still some remnants of the pre-Lasseter corporate culture hanging on at WDFA."

Ditto for WDI. Lasseter is not the white knight fanboys were hoping for. He's far from powerless, but... you get the idea.