Wednesday, February 10, 2010


So with the shelving of "King of the Elves" and "The Snow Queen" there are a lot of story artist that are looking for something to do...

And not all of them are looking inside the Mouse. In fact, Jeffrey Katzenberg's house has had a lot of people looking to rent rooms since the end of January.

Like, you ask?

Mark "Rhino" Walton and several others have decided to move over to DreamWorks Animation, not just for the job security that seems to come with a line up of films that look pretty stable, but more money. It seems success can do that to/for people/animators.

Here's to wishing them well, and someday, once WDAS has had a few hits under their belts, wishing them back...

UPDATE: It should be noted that Paul Briggs was mentioned in the original article as having left with Mark and others. This isn't the case and Paul is still at Disney Animation. And I'm very happy to report this correction.


Anonymous said...

That's frustrating, and awfully familiar. It reminds me of several stories I heard as projects were being finished and new ones were not being greenlit at WDFA around the turn of the century, as one after another talented artist was either shown the door or left voluntarily only to go down the street to Dreamworks for a better deal. How come the Lasseter doesn't seem any different from the Schumacher Era (or whatshisname that came after him)?

MarkTwain said...


It seems like the box office disappointment of Princess & the Frog has caused more than financial losses for WDAS.

I hope they can get back on the right track soon.

Anonymous said...

this makes me sad...

Anonymous said...

I think the problem isn't Lasseter. The problem is Disney's brand has been damaged far more than was expected and it's going to take longer than we expected to fix it.

I think the quality of the films made so far is great, but it's going to take a few years and a few more films that aren't exactly in the old, fantasy mold.

Anonymous said...

Cool story as for me. It would be great to read more concerning this topic. The only thing I would like to see on that blog is some pictures of any gizmos.
Kate Trider
Block phone

Discovery Cove said...

Is this really as much of a loss as you are making out?

There have been numberous films greenlit and redlit and changed around, bringing in new creators and reworking the stories. There is obviously something wrong with story development that doesn't please others in WDAS, otherwise the films would have gotten into work a lot faster.

I heard that they aren't able to keep animators on because Story is taking so long. Naturally they can't keep those people on if there is nothing to animate.

So is this definately bad?

Anonymous said...

Disney animation will not recover.

Mark my words.

Doopey said...

I do think you have to put responsibility for this on Lasseter/Catmull. Part of their job was to fix the quality of the animation, which they've largely done (I think "MTR", "Bolt", and "PatF" show a progressive increase in quality). BUT they are also responsible for the culture and management of the place. The "shorts" program was announced with big fanfare as a way to help keep animators engaged (and employed) in between big projects. But other than "Prep & Landing" there doesn't seem to be much going on there. Where are the new Fab Five shorts? How about Roger Rabbit? Anything? And are you telling me that Winnie the Pooh and Rapunzel are the only other projects in active development? Seems like a big problem.

Anonymous said...

John and Ed can't keep animators around if their boss tells them there's no money to do so... And I'm wondering if they are having trouble working under the conditions WDAS is working under.

They didn't come starting on a clean slate, they came aboard a sinking ship here.

I think another problem would be that Disney as a company is losing money on their other projects, like the theme parks for example. Dreamworks doesn't have to worry about that.

Anonymous said...

Honor - you mentioned knowing something coming down the pipeline soon for Disney.... I hope you have some good news for us soon because this stuff is depressing.

Anonymous said...

Is Disney just losing animators without replacing them? Maybe Disney is picking up some talent from other studios like Blue Sky or even Dreamworks?

Don't Care About Your Depression said...

What else is in the pipeline you ask?

More cuts.

In all your moaning about WDAS you've missed the other elephant in the room (Hathi this time not Dumbo).

Have Pixar axed Newt as well?
Have they moved Cars 2 to X-Mas 2011?
Where is Bear and the Bow going?
Is Up the last original film? Just sequels?

Ermm. Guess its been a mistake for them to get so cocky and announce all those films way back when. Shoulda stuck with the slate up to 2010. ¬_¬

Matt DeWater said...

"Disney animation will not recover.

Mark my words."

Hahaha wow! Is that a threat?

Somebody warn Mickey!

Anonymous said...

Disney animation will not recover.

Yes, it WILL recover, you pessimist!

I agree with Anonymous #3 and Discovery Cove on this one.

It's not Lassetter or Catmull's faults!

As for the shorts, I hope that Honor Hunter will say something about that soon and fast and reassure us that the shorts program is not dead.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that this is not Lasseter and Catmull's fault.

I think yes, one of the big issues is that people are still learning that they can trust Disney Animation again.
People already have full trust in Pixar films.
Recent films; Bolt, and The Princess and the Frog were good quality movies. They were not as big as hoped, but Bolt did get a lot of critical praise. PatF was liked too, but unfortunately it did suffer, possibly somewhat from the "girlie/fairy tale" perception.

So yes, I think a reason why Disney Animation's recent films haven't been as big as hoped is partly because people are still learning to trust Disney again.

And no, this isn't really "bad" news. If these employees need to find better work then they need to find better work. That's just fate.
These guys have to make a living after all.
But hopefully they will find their way back to Disney Animation someday.
(On a minor side note, I'm sure that Mark Walton will still be willing to voice Rhino again if the need shows up.)

Yes, money seems to rule all, but just because a film does phenomenal business at the box office does not necessarily mean that it has a strong story, and just because a film doesn't do as well as hoped at the box office, does not necessarily mean that it has a bad story.

Anonymous said...

Why is Disney wasting time so much retro crap? Tron, The Black Hole, The everybody at the Mouse House in their second childhoods?

I'm not seeing the above projects, you couldn't pay me. In fact, after seeing Alice, I'm done with Disney for a while.

Honor Hunter said...

"Have Pixar axed Newt as well?"

As of now, "Newt" will no longer be the 2012 release.

"Have they moved Cars 2 to X-Mas 2011?"

No. Not that it couldn't change depending on how the tight it gets as the release gets closer.

"Where is Bear and the Bow going?"

Don't know about "Bow."

"Is Up the last original film? Just sequels?"


"As for the shorts, I hope that Honor Hunter will say something about that soon and fast and reassure us that the shorts program is not dead."

The shorts program is not dead. "Nessie" is the current short that is being finished.

Oh, and the world has not ended. Things change. New projects will take the place of old ones. It happened decades ago, it happens up in Emeryville and it still happens down in Burbank. Life is filled with obstacles.

Getting around them only looks easy...

Bulletridden Bedhead said...

Whew, good to know not all of them have left for DW!

Thanks for the correction, Honor. At least you're not like Nikke Finke who changes her stories and pretends she didn't correct anything.

Matt DeWater said...

Honor, any word as to when we'll potentially be seeing Nessie finally?? I've been extremely excited for that one since it was first announced. And it is still hand drawn, correct?

And speaking of shorts, I've looked all over, but I can't find anything of any help as to when WE might be able to finally see Glago's Guest, too. It was "released" like a year ago, but never to theaters or on DVD! Any info on that one?

Honestly, I think it would be a great idea, since Disney seems to be having a bunch of story issues, to take a break for a few years from features, and focus on shorts. Get some talent in there, do some quick projects... projects that if they don't make a quadrillion dollars, it isn't the end of the world. Then once they've got their feet on the ground again, start up the features. (Not that this would ever happen, for money reasons... but it's a nice idea.)

Anonymous said...

To the person who called the Muppets "crap"

The Muppets are still as relevant as ever. Muppet fandom is still alive and strong.

Just go to the "MuppetsStudio" channel on youtube and look at all the overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Also, I would hardly call the Muppets "retro". They've had plenty of projects throughout the 90's. And it may have taken a while since Disney acquired them, but they recently have finally gotten back into the public eye in full force, thanks to television and viral media.

But I hope you feel better now that you've gotten all of that "crap" off of your chest.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the above Anonymous.

The Muppets are definetely not "cr*p". They're still relevant, popular and beloved by millions of people everywhere and are enjoying a tremendous, long-overdue comeback.

Anyone who hates the Muppets should be eaten alive by one of the Muppet Monsters!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answers Honor....

I think it's time for an entire post about that for a pick-me-up.

Have you heard anything about the new projects taking place? Anything at all?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I forgot to ask - when you say "newt is no longer the 2012 release," does that mean it's just stalled and will be released later, but all the players are still involved (Gary Rydstrom)? Or has it been shelved indefinitely?

Anonymoose said...

Matt: Yes Nessie is 2D. I had the opportunity to see a rough animation version of it not to long ago and it looked really really nice. I was impressed.
No idea about the release though, hopefully it'll be done in time for Rapunzel.

Arrrrgh said...

All signs point to next being dead and bear and the bow or brave or whatever being missing. Arrgh. So Disney and Pixar are both screwed.

Dreamworks have post 2010 for the taking should they run with it.

Don't Care About Your Sympathy said...

Dead weight as far as I'm concerned. If they can't get the stories right enough for them to be greenlit then get rid.

Good riddance, there is no point being all 'boo hoo' just cause they've voiced a cute hamster or whatever.

Just give me quality stories and give those animators a job they can stick around for.


Anonymous said...

I guess it's officially.. tangled.. maybe it'll turn out being a documentary behind the scenes of Disney Company.

Doopey said...

Honor -- you're saying that Cars 2 hasn't been moved to Christmas 2011? That's funny, because that's not what Bob Iger said on Tuesday. Maybe you know something that the CEO of the company doesn't know.

Doopey said...

D'oh! I stand corrected. Summer is still the date. My apologies, Honor. Feel free to delete both of these posts.

Anonymous said...

All signs point to next being dead and bear and the bow or brave or whatever being missing...

Actually all signs point to Bear and the Bow being the only future Pixar movie that sounds like is on track at the moment. Floyd Norman mentioned that he talked to BatB's director and that things were looking good.

beejers said...

Joe Moshier who worked on some character design on Bolt(as well as many other Disney films- i think hunchback and emporer's new groove come to mind, but i may be wrong) left to join another studio while he was still production on Rapunzel. We used to have some great talks as he was waiting for his order at my work...

Little story- Just before Bolt was released, he came to me and told me he illustrated a Golden Book version of Bolt that hadnt been yet released. He went to his car a brought me a copy, and I practically had to force him to sign it he was so modest- but he did so graciously.

Here's hoping he makes his way back to the mouse house one day. Seems like many of his colleagues followed suit. A great loss for sure.

Anonymous said...

"Good riddance, there is no point being all 'boo hoo' just cause they've voiced a cute hamster or whatever."

I don't think that was the point. I don't think Honor was making a big deal about this because Mark voiced Rhino. I think he is just saying that its unfortunate to him that some employees from Disney Animation moved to Dreamworks Animation. I'm pretty sure he just used the image of Rhino to have something visual to represent Disney.

Don't Care About... A Lot Of Things said...

Anonymous at 5:11PM - Yes but if this was a no name where would all the fuss be.

No, I'm pretty sure that a few people have moved onto other studios without any attention or whatever. But of course they haven't had the same publicity.

The point is, if this dept are not performing - as has been suggested before - then they are dead weight and therefore no loss.

Though I'm sure they'll do alright at Dreamworks so there is no loss there either. They have surely ended up with a better job - maybe you should in that case be happy.

Sure hope Disney sorts all this mess out at BOTH animation studios, and ASAP. But it seems to be a TANGLED mess at the moment.. ..

BOOM-BOOM - do you see what i did there! oh my god that jokes lame.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who still loves Muppets - in the 21st century - probably has mental problems. How does Kermit, a PUPPET, compare to the wonders of the characters from Toy Story? Or how do Muppet monsters compare to Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc.?

In two words: THEY DON'T. CGI kicks hand puppet ass. Let's get away from fixations on childhood memories and get real, shall we? Disney is facing fierce competition from Dreamworks, Blue Sky, and 20th Century Fox, among others, and anyone who thinks MUPPETS are any competition for the product of those three studios has ping-pong balls for brains!

Youtube? Don't make me laugh. Check the lists of the most popular videos at that site, and it'll be pretty obvious that it doesn't take brilliance to attract the attention of the people bored enough to watch videos online. Youtube popularity means nothing. Muppets at best are ancient history, and belong in a museum with the rest of the mummified - Muppified? - relics. If Disney is going to compete, it's got to come up with something FRESH and NEW - not try to mine the past. The only thing on the Disney film schedule that looks promising is the Alice movie. The rest looks like a film festival for an old folk's home.

Anonymous said...

If you guys didnt know, animators and other artists kind of rotate between Disney, Dreamworks, Pixar, Sony and Blue Sky quite a bit.

Some do it for money, some for a change of scenery. Some get liad off/fired. Some are amazingly talented, some are just okay.

Theres no conspiracy or mass exodus. Its just business, and we're people trying to make a living just like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous Muppet-hater (you're always wrong and you know that), identify yourself at once and knock it off with your ever-annoying anti-Muppet stance!

Hope you either get a VERY painful karate chop from Miss Piggy or get eaten alive by one of the Muppet Monsters as a perfect punishment for you insulting not only but also for insulting those of us who actually "get" and understand the Muppets (who DON'T have mental problems, FYI) and love them for who they are.

Don't Care About Socks said...

LMAO - Your hate on the Muppets, and what? You're implying Alice in Wonderland is somehow more original or fresh.

Don;t know why the competition scares you so much unless you are one of the freaks that only watches anything with DISNEY plastered all over it.

Muppets is a good decision at this point, if they can produce something interesting and edgy it can be of use.

Alice is comparable to Pirates and Tron and Black Hole and Persia and yes - Muppets, in that it is still a brand - although I admit that it is a new take on the source material, but it will always be associated with the familar takes on Alice in Wonderland, and is still largely the same story and the same characters.

Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, Muppets are gonna eat me! A pig puppet is gonna smite me with her squashy little fist-on-a-stick! Somebody save me!

Burton's Alice IS original and fresh, unlike that smelly old sweatsock you call Kermit. It's not a rehash or revival, it's a continuation of the classic tale, where Alice is grown-up, facing an unwanted marriage, and escapes back to Wonderland, where she becomes the new White Knight and fights for her friends. I don't recall any of that in the original books. And the trailers look kickass. By contrast, what does the new Muppet movie involve? Why, they're getting back together to save the show! Whoa, never heard of THAT one! I can't WAIT to see what they do with it...AGAIN. Just like they did in Muppets Take Manhattan! And in that Christmas movie. Never get tired of it. And no high-tech junk, no CGI, no sir! Just hands, little sticks, maribou feathers and funny voices (but not Frank's or Jim's). 21st century kids weaned on The Incredibles and Kung Fu Panda (where talking animals walk around on LEGS and everything) will totally go for it. Give me a break. Why would people pay 10 bucks to see a movie when they could find something very similar in the dollar bin at Walmart?

"Grow up"? That's actually funny, coming from someone who apparently got lost on Sesame Street and never found his way out.

Anonymous said...

Stop it, you Muppet-Hater!

YOU are the one who needs to grow up!

Anonymous said...

Disney keeps talking about revamps all over the place, changing management, letting various animators finding work because there is no work for them, putting pressure of change, growth and financial success on the creative people involved. What about the Marketing Department? Where is their change or overhaul? Marketing is involved in every project they do, parks, movies, tv, games. If something is wrong with the way the public perceives a movie it's because of the marketing that was done for that movie. Remember everything with Ratatouille, and pixar taking over marketing for their films, because of the poor marketing being done for the film.

All this overhaul taking place within the management teams and creative teams. I haven't heard anything being done about the marketing team.

Anonymous said...

You answered your own question.

Has Sesame Street become less popular among children? Besides the fact that there is simply MORE shows on TV to give it competition, it's still kickin. By your logic, kids shouldn't like Sesame Street for the sole reason that they are puppets, and they should instead be watching "My Friends Tigger and Pooh," where the characters are CG.

But, would anyone agree that Sesame Street should be put in a museum? I don't think so. The fact that they are puppets has nothing to do with the popularity of the Muppets. This is just an extension of the 2D vs. 3D argument, which is getting very old at this point. I agree, if they make the SAME story again using the Muppets, without doing anything original, then it is stupid and pointless. But, if they DO go out and make something awesome, the fact that it's done with Muppets won't make a difference in the world. At least to everyone except you, good sir.

Anonymous said...

Not to inflame this any further, but I don't like the muppets myself. Disney should not have bought them.

And Sesame St. gets government money, that's why it's still on. Its ratings suck against Nick and Disney Channel. I don't think the muppets are all that popular any more. Disney should be making movies with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald.I'd go to see those. This is my opinion and if the muppet fanatics want to bash me go ahead, I could care less, and it's actually kind of funny

Anonymous said...

I predict that the title "Tangled" will only confuse people.

And that the new Muppet movie will flop, just like their last movie and various specials have flopped. They had a long strong heyday, but that was a long time ago, and audiences have moved on.

Don't Care About Innocence said...

Yeah your readers on this blog are going downhill Honor.

My god.

True originality is something with... OMG!! New characters and OMG!! new stories.

Alice looks and will be great but, not Original as it is SHOCK HORROR, as you already said a continuation. I.e. Sequel.

Nothing wrong with that at all, but you can't claim it as the one and only original film. You are clearly not that stupid.

Pirates 2-4 = not original
Toy story 2-3 = not original
Alice 2 = not original

Nothing wrong with the medium, everything doesn't have to be CG. that would be a boring world.

Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Honor Hunter, please take a shotgun to all the Anonymous Muppet-haters. Please!

Anonymous said...


Looks like the Muppets have had a bad influence on some people. :P

PirateGuy 815 said...

Wow, this is a little ridiculous...

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story 2 and 3, and all the othe films mentioned above are original because they tell different stories. Though the same main characters. Are in them, new characters and plots keep the. Movies from being unoriginal. So that statement doesn't make much sense, IMO.

As for The Muppets, we will have to see. They seem to be fairly popular in the parks, and recent had stories may have hurt their popularity. We'll just have to see what the new movie does. If it bombs, forget them. If it does well, then the are useful, simple as that.

Oh, and it's idiotic to write of The Muppets because they are puppets. Like Honor and many inteligent people say, "It's not the MEDIUM that matters, it's the STORY".

Anonymous said...

^Um, not so sure about that, pal. Fantastic Mr. Fox supposedly had a great story, but the old-fashioned stop-motion animation failed to attract audiences and it flopped. I don't know how today's kids (at least those over 5) are going to react to a movie starring puppets, but my guess is they're going to be largely unimpressed. It's all going to depend on whether there's enough Baby Boomers out there who feel nostalgic enough to pay to see the Muppets. That's extremely iffy in my opinion.

I Want To See Rapunzel said...

Well for a start Fantastic Mr Fox was absolute garbage so I don't blame anyone for not going to see it.
The trailers were awful as well.

In that regard, the Muppets already have a starting audience following the YouTube and Disney Channel stuff. And provided its any good (i.e. funny) the trailer would (hopefully) reflect that so the trailer would be apealling to children and adults.

Unfortunately as Fantastic Mr Fox wasn't much good, it quite naturally didn't attract people with the trailer.

Oh and the other thing is it didn't have PIXAR or DREAMWORKS plastered on it so that works against any other animation.

Honor Hunter said...

Guys, remember to play nice...

There's no need to get too emotional over things. There are always highs and lows at Disney and elsewhere.

Negativity never gets you anywhere positive. ;)

And it never got Walt anywhere either...