Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Now that Steve Jobs is gone, the Apple Board has no chairman and is down one member...
Until today. Apple CEO Tim Cook upped Arthur Levinson to Jobs' former title of Chairman and added Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger to the board. It's hard to imagine that he wasn't already there considering the closeness between the two companies. Disney has been one of the earliest supporters and adopters of the Fruit Company's products/devices/services.
Iger will sit on Apple's audit committee and provide a closer relationship between the entertainment and electronic giants...
Friday, November 11, 2011
Not only do they debut the "Prep & Landing" pre-show tonight...
But DCA reaches a milestone with World of Color. Tonight the show has it's 1000 presentation. That's right.
One Thousandth Show.
Hard to believe it's only been going on for a year and a half and they've already had that many show, but they have.
Imagine how the park will look when they celebrate two thousand...
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Those of you that have read this blog often know that I'm a huge "Prep & Landing" fan...
Well those of you that are at Disney California Adventure for World of Color this Friday will get a special treat. There will be a pre-show featuring the lovable elves, Lanny and Wayne before the actual show begins. It's only a couple minutes long, but it's still a wonderful little promotion that they've put together to push, "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice."
Anyone that's a fan of the WDAS short will sure to love it...
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Bill Keane, the creator of "The Family Circus" and father of legendary Disney Animator, Glen Keane passed away today...
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Heaven must have one massive bullpen of talented artist right now...
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Sorry for the lack of updates, guys...
The real world has came crushing around me and prevented me from entering the Blue Sky universe, unfortunately. Posts will be coming, but intermittently until later this month/next month.
Apologies for the silence...
Thursday, October 27, 2011
So we finally know what Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" will look like...
If you're going to pic up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, then you'll see these shots from the film in a nice article about the film/man. We now have a sense as to what the director meant when saying to would be in black and white. It certainly has that "Burtonesque" quality to it. The dog, Sparky, looks exactly like the design that he did for Brad Bird's "Family Dog" that ran on Amazing Stories back in the Eighties. And the picture of the character of the boy that brings his pet back to life bares a striking resemblance to the lead character in the Disney short that Tim did called "Vincent" back when the Studio had no idea what to do with him.
It'll be interesting seeing if this film turns out more like "The Nightmare Before Christmas" or "The Corpse Bride."
Thursday, October 20, 2011
So a non-Disney owned network gets a Marvel adaptation...
Fox will get the first show based on a Marvel property that isn't on a Disney branded (Disney XD, ABC, ABC Family) broadcaster, "The Punisher."
And purist of the comic will be upset at the deviations from the source material. As envisioned by "Criminal Minds" showrunner Ed Bernero, Frank Castle will do his punishment moonlighting style. New York Cop by day, vengeful vigilante by night. Many will be upset, but I'll hold my powder dry until I see the finished product.
It's also fitting that the show will be made by Disney, but broadcast somewhere else. Since the subject matter is darker than other Marvel properties the Mouse probably wants to distance itself from the direct relation to the graphic material. Will it be a hit after the three disappointing films?
Time will tell...
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
There's a really good article over at the LA Times about the Mouse's competition...
Not the film competition, or the theme park competition, but the gaming competition. Disney Interactive has been one of the few sore spots for the Walt Disney Company over the last five years. It's clear that the strategy they started out with hasn't worked. The pull back from the original strategy of the division, as well as the closing of companies it bought has revealed several weaknesses in the Mouse's plan.
Meanwhile, across town in Burbank, Warner Bros. seems to be following a much more successful path. There really is no excuse for Disney, as it has as much, if not more resources than Warner. It's clear that the companies and titles they produced, with exceptions of course, haven't been up to quality. WB Games has taken a strategy that has paid off very well, and this year will have revenues of over a billion dollars.
The Mouse continues to bleed red, though. While Warner bought Rocksteady, Disney bought Propaganda Games. Warner bought Traveller's Tales, and Disney bought Black Rock. When they should have bought a company like Valve or something like Sony's Naughty Dog. Instead, they aimed low and expected to go high.
Perhaps they will take a page from Warner, or perhaps not. But the path they have chosen is closer to what I'm sure Disney Interactive would have liked to have seen. Too bad they didn't follow that direction.
Gaming isn't as easy as they expected...
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Well it appears that sanity has come to Burbank...
It this struggling economy, spending well north of a quarter of a billion dollars on a Western was enough to make the Mouse believe that it wasn't worth it. Thank you very much, "Cowboys & Aliens."
But the studio has come to an agreement with the producer, director and stars (what, no writers?) to take a 20% pay cut and defer some of the payments on the back end so as to get the film rolling. Also, any cost overruns will come out of Jerry Bruckheimer's pocket not Disneys. So it appears the production is back on track for shooting to start on February 6, 2012, with the film being released in the summer of the following year, May 31, 2013 to be exact.
Fear not, this is still a budget of over $215 million dollars, sans werewolves and a few other mystical things, but it still has three or four amazingly complex train robberies/crashes that should excite audience amidst the shoot outs. And don't worry about Johnny Depp not looking like an Indian, even though he is part Indian. You won't be able to recognize him if the make up test that they've done are approved. He's going to look like something you've never seen before. Of course, that has the studio a little worried, after all, if you're selling Johnny Depp and he doesn't even look like himself, will the audience not buy a ticket?
Come two years from now we'll likely know, but I like Gore Verbinski and I already know he can pull off a Western since he did "Rango" this year.
Now, let's hope he can turn silver bullets into box office gold...
Friday, October 7, 2011
Well Bob Iger has signed a two/three year extension of his contract...
But he's done something that Michael Eisner never did. He gave us an end game. Iger announced that he will gain the title of Chairman as of next year, and will leg go of the reigns of power as CEO on March 31, 2015. He will then stay on as Chairman of the Walt Disney Company at least till this new contract expires in June, 2016.
This is in stark contrast to Eisner who tried to maintain his hold on power well after he should have resigned. It also sets up a debate as to whom will become the next CEO. The obvious choices are Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman, Tom Staggs and Dark Lord of the Sith, err, I mean Chief Financial Officer, Jay Rasulo. It's my belief that it will be Tom Staggs who gets the title as it appears he's a much better fit for the role. Jay belongs over in the bean counting department dealing with the numbers. Staggs has proven himself to be a savvy Suit working the parks and getting much respect from those that he's had dealings with.
It may be interesting to see which Suit comes out in the lead over the next four years...
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
As we learn more about this deal for an expansion of Disney's Animal Kingdom, some thoughts...
A lot of people are asking about how this deals with the possibility of fans seeing Beastly Kingdom? Well, to be honest, I'll let the dark lord of soulless numbers give you the answer:
”We just won’t do something else we were going to do”
- Jay Rasulo, Chief Financial Officer, Walt Disney Company
That was in response to a question he was asked about the cost of this new "Avatar" land and how it'll affect the bottom line. So for anyone expecting an announcement coming anytime in the near future, you better be patient. While the idea of Beastly Kingdom still lives in the halls of WDI in Glendale, it's not going to be happening anytime soon. And when/if it finally does, don't expect it to look exactly as the original proposal did. Somewhere, sometime in the future you could expect to see dragons, griffins and unicorns to make it to Animal Kingdom, but likely before the end of this decade. I'm willing to wait and watch it grow and evolve.
While "Avatar" wasn't my favorite film in 2009, I can see some appeal for putting it in DAK. And it does fall in the slot of fantasy or mythical creatures, but could likely be referred to as sci-fi creatures. So it would be a variation or play on the original theming of extinct animals, living animals and mythical animals. This would be a subset of that particular group.
And if James Cameron gets his way, which he's used to getting, then you can expect that every penny that he wants will get put into this project. And from what unnamed suits have been saying is this will be somewhere around $500 million dollars. To put that in perspective, Cars Land is somewhere close to $300 million and the Extreme Expansion of the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland is a little under that. Keeping that in mind, remember that the Extreme Makeover of DCA is a little under one billion dollars. So for just a section of DAK Imagineers will have half of that funding. This could make for an extremely immersive world if done properly.
And if everything goes well, dragons, griffins and unicorns will join this place when another expansion finally comes...
If you happen to get to see the new display at the Blue Sky Cellar, you will find these...
Three new lovely posters for more attractions. This brings to nine the number of posters done in this retro-Disneyland style. Now wouldn't it be nice if they sold all of these together in a set? Of course, there's still more that need to be done, like Midway Mania, Radiator Springs Racers, ect.
But it's lovely to view the walk back...
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Now this is surprising, but not entirely unexpected...
The Walt Disney Company has licensed James Cameron's "Avatar" for an attraction based in Disney's Animal Kingdom for debut after the release of the next film. So, Universal has Spielberg and now Disney has Cameron helping design themed attractions? Here's the press release:
BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox, Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.
“James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”
“AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said James Cameron. “I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”
The agreement announced today gives The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) exclusive global theme park rights to the AVATAR franchise and provides for additional AVATAR themed lands at other Disney parks. The other locations will be determined by Disney and its international theme park partners. James Cameron, Jon Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment group will serve as creative consultants on the projects and will partner with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the AVATAR themed lands.
“This exciting new venture combines the world of AVATAR with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron,” commented Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. “While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the AVATAR motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created.”
“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney,” said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We can’t wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person.”
In addition to setting a global box office record, AVATAR has been hailed as one of the most innovative and visually stunning movies ever produced. With its advanced motion capture and 3-D digital projection technologies developed by James Cameron and his team, moviegoers were able to connect with the world of AVATAR in new and engaging ways.
This new venture complements Walt Disney Parks & Resorts’ strategic efforts to continue to invest in its core theme park businesses around the world while simultaneously expanding into other parts of the family vacation business.
More commentary to follow...
Hat Tip to Deadline Hollywood.
Friday, September 16, 2011
When the holidays roll around this year, DCA may be the place to be...
Regardless of all those walls, the Christmas holiday season may offer a great reason to skip the fireworks over at Disneyland. Unless the plans change between now and October, the World of Color show that you watch in December will be filled with a lot of green and red, with sugar plum dreams to dance in your head.
They've been testing selections and musical pieces over the past couple of months for it, as well as a Halloween show. That show has been postponed till next Halloween when the park will be fully open, sans walls. It's pretty impressive, from what I've been told, but for now it appears that the Christmas/Holiday show will be the only one. Which isn't a bad thing at all.
Imagine the snow...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
It's less than a year before the Extreme Makeover of DCA is over...
Could this ad for a pin trading event next year be a peek into the marketing direction of where the Mouse will go?
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
This looks like a beautiful piece of architecture...
George Lucas' headquarters for Lucasfilm Animation Singapore will be completed mid-next year, but it's already developed a nickname: The Sandcrawler. Based on the pictures here you can see how it resembles the famed vehicle from the original Star Wars film.
Construction started in October 2010 on the facility which will consist of eight floors of office space, a retail shopping space located on the first floor, a lush public park area, elevated public gardens, a state-of-the-art data center and production capabilities as well as a 100 seat theater. The structure will be located in the country's Fusionopolis Development Complex.
It is expected to house the company's growing animation unit that is working on a secret feature film project. Apparently the creative elements of the story will still be developed in Marin County, back in Skywalker Ranch, but the visual construction of that tale will take place in a glass Jawa transport. The projects that are being done here are in addition to anything yet to be announced from ILM and their attempts to become a full fledged animation studio.
The Empire grows...
Monday, September 5, 2011
There were so many events and ceremonies celebrating the anniversary of Tokyo's Second Gate...
No way we could cover them all, but I thought it would be nice to look at a few of them. If you can't be there, at least YouTube can take you there.
Here is the opening ceremony to commemorate the tenth year of the park with the heads of the Oriental Land Company and Walt Disney Company head of parks, Tom Staggs (Take a look around Tom, this is what we expect!).
The musical celebration on the water in the Mediterranean Harbor yesterday. Again, nothing is as good as actually being there with the sights and sounds, but you can get some of the flavor of what it is to see this magical place at this magical time.
Before everything begins, custodial has to be make sure everything is up to the high standards of a Disney Park, but take a look at how much the Japanese Cast Members get into their jobs.
Some of the bizarre musical renditions (with Chip & Dale) you can find at Port Discovery during this time.
And speaking of music. Here's the official song of the 10th anniversary. Now, can you imagine if Disney California Adventure had an anniversary song?
And here are some of the decorations outside the entrance to the park.
If only the tenth of DCA could have been celebrated in such a tradition. We do have another one coming up in five years so perhaps they can take some tips from these celebrations and make it a memorable one. By then the Second Phase will be done if everything works out smoothly, or at the very least will be deeply in development.
And one can only imagine what will be up in Tokyo's Second Park by then...
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Ten years ago today a miracle happened...
The Walt Disney Company let someone else take their talent and ideas and create something better than they could/would do. They let someone else build their dreams. On this day a decade ago, Tokyo DisneySEA was born.
Born out of the collapse of Port Disney, Tokyo's Second Disney Gate is a masterpiece that all should see.
It is a prime example of what Disney and Imagineers are capable of if given the opportunity.
If you would like to know more about Tokyo DisneySEA or Port Disney click here. If you'd love some great wallpapers of it then get the Disney and More App for it here. If you'd like to go there then go to a travel site and book a trip now. And if you don't then I have to ask, why not?
Dreams are worth seeing as much as believing in...
Friday, September 2, 2011
You can always tell if I liked a film based on if I'll get the Blu-Ray...
And as many of you know, I absolutely loved "Captain America" when it came out. So there should be no doubt that when October 25th. It was a great adaption with depth and heart that should show any studio how to faithfully take a comic and create something everyone can have accessibility to. The Blu-Ray also features a ton of extras:
- 00:03:44:01 MARVEL ONE-SHOT: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THOR’S HAMMER
- 00:01:08:17 THE AVENGERS – EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES!
- 00:03:40:16 (CAPTAIN AMERICA’S ORIGIN)
- 00:10:20:20 (OUTFITTING A HERO)
- 00:05:47:02 (HOWLING COMMANDOS)
- 00:11:41:07 (HEIGHTENED TECHNOLOGY)
- 00:09:53:15 (BEHIND THE SKULL)
- 00:08:23:13 (THE TRANSFORMATION)
- 00:02:13:15 CAPTAIN AMERICA – SUPER SOLDIER
- 00:01:37:13 THE AVENGERS
- 00:00:38:06 (DELETED SCENES: NORWAY TANK ATTACK)
- 00:01:29:22 (DELETED SCENES: BUCKY’S BATTLE)
- 00:00:57:23 (DELETED SCENES: YOU DESERVE A MEDAL)
- 00:02:02:22 (DELETED SCENES: THERE’S A PLACE FOR YOU HERE)
- 00:00:39:08 (DELETED SCENES: NORWAY TANK ATTACK W/COMMENTARY) 00:01:29:24 (DELETED SCENES: BUCKY’S BATTLE W/COMMENTARY)
- 00:00:57:23 (DELETED SCENES: YOU DESERVE A MEDAL W/COMMENTARY) 00:02:18:05 CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE FIRST AVENGER (THEATRICAL TRAILER #1) 00:02:17:19 CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE FIRST AVENGER (THEATRICAL TRAILER #2)
Thursday, September 1, 2011
So September begins and the Mouse announces holiday gifts...
After much anticipation about when they would finally release a Blu-Ray of the classic film, "The Rocketeer" would be announced, the details are out.
That's when you can get your copy of the film. Who knows, if enough people buy it we might even see the Suits in Burbank think of a sequel, reboot or even an animated series on Disney XD?
Hey, I'm a dreamer...
Monday, August 29, 2011
It's almost been a decade since the Japanese showed Disney how to be Disney...
The anniversary of the most amazingly beautiful theme park is just around the corner and the publicity is starting to ratchet up. Take a look at this commercial reminding everyone what is coming.
And what Disney can do when it lets itself be free to dream...
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Eleven years ago today, Carl Barks went on into history...
At his home in Grants Pass, Oregon the man that created my favorite Disney comic to read as a child, passed away. He started at Disney in the mid Thirties and later went on to draw Donald and the gang well into the late Sixties. In his comics, the characters were dramatically different than the shorts. Donald was not near as much of a rascal and he took readers on adventures to exotic and exciting places way before Dr. Jones ever did. For an old man, he was mighty limber (Scrooge, not Barks). Carl did as Walt did, not creating stories for children, but the child in all of us. And I delighted in every issue he provided me. My love of adventure started with his words and pictures and I owe him a great deal of gratitude. Many youths of today will not even know him, but they do know of him through his creations.
And he lives on through them in comics, films, shorts and television...
I didn't get to go to the D23 Expo panels on Sunday due to a previous commitment...
There were only two events I wanted to attend, if I had been about to be there on that day: the Marvel Panel and the Cars Land Panel. Well, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, you and I can watch that panel. Just imagine all those people that waited in line only to be told the room was full? They could have been riding something in the parks and just clicked on this once they got home. So here it is for your viewing pleasure:
Cars Land Panel One
Cars Land Panel Two
Cars Land Panel Three
And this time next year you'll be in another line; one for these attractions...
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
A lot of people have lost jobs, but now a Jobs has quit his...
Steven P. Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple, Inc. as of today. This is like hearing something equivalent to Walt Disney resigning from Walt Disney Productions. It truly is the end of an era. Like when Walt passed away and the Disney Studios had to find there way without him, or Henry Ford no longer being at Ford Motor. It's one of those points in history that you can point to and say that you were there, or you remembered what you were doing at that time.
It won't likely mean anything for his involvement in the Walt Disney Company. They don't meet that often and he will likely stay on the Board of Directors, as his seven percent of the company still makes him an important contributor to business discussions. My warmest feelings and deepest regards go out to him, his family and the people who work there. He will now be the Chairman of the Board, but he won't be around One Infinite Loop on a continuing basis or regular schedule.
While his shadow will loom long and far over the company, his fingerprint will remain there forever...
Sunday, August 21, 2011
With the closing of the Mouse's second convention, I thought it was time to reflect...
On what went right and what went wrong. Mostly on the wrong part of that reflective question. Lets recap a little about the 2009 D23 Expo. First, it was over 4 days and in the end had over 20,000+ attend the show. Not bad for a first time event. Disney pulled it off pretty well, although there were some rough edges that you would think they would learn from and tweak the next time, right?
Not really, no.
This time to save money, (I mean, those numbers weren't a success for a first time event.) they decided to have the event over three days instead of four. And the attendance this year was more than last time, catching Disney off guard. close to 40,000 attended this year. A full 17,000 attended a sold out Saturday event alone. Do the math, almost twice as many people with one less day to do it in. Crowds far worse than last time. Less Cast Members were there to help out from the parks as well. Have to save those pennies you know. After all, no one will notice right? There were five security companies hired to handle this event as well and I talked to some of them as well as several people that worked for the Anaheim Convention Center and they all agreed that the Mouse botched it.
There were a lot of displays, but it did seem like there were less of them. I could be wrong about that, but the general perception was along those lines. The Walt Disney Parks & Resorts display was nice, but the open space between the displays made it feel like there were less models on view. Also, the announcement that there would be things on display from all parks wasn't accurate as well. Florida, with the Extreme Expansion at the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland was the big model this time. California with Buena Vista Street and Cars Land were represented. Shanghai was on display in a very intentionally vague model. Disney Cruise Line had a representation there as well with models of the Dream and a statue of Minnie from the Fantasy. Adventures by Disney, the Aulani and the Disney Vacation Club was represented as well. But Hong Kong from 09' wasn't represented, neither was Disneyland Paris and nothing from Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySEA (Mustn't embarrass the other parks by stunning Disney fans with pictures from this park, could they?).
But as I mentioned in my observations in the earlier post, the biggest mistake was the Arena area of the park. This was the place where the big stuff was to be held. This place holds 6,000+ people and during the first D23 Expo Disney rented out the entire place. Even then people still didn't get in. You would think with this demand, event planners would have prepared for this and did something to address the situation. They did. They made it worse. To make it more intimate (company phrasing to hide the unwillingness to fork over cash for the entire place) they decided to only rent out approximately 4,000 seats. Leaving almost a third of the place empty. Empty even though they could have filled up all the seats. Almost the whole upper balcony sat vacant while fans waited outside. Way to make it more intimate, guys. Real good PR move. While I got into the Parks & Resorts event, hundreds of people did not. This left many people that attended this expo who waited in line feeling frustrated and saddened at not being able to see the presentation. Now, what was shown was very entertaining, but it wasn't any big surprise. Tom Staggs continues to grow in his job and will hopefully be Iger's successor some day. Like I mentioned in my other article, Staggs would likely only give a small surprise, not a big one. Which is exactly what happened.
But the major screw up was the big event for Walt Disney Studios; the massive two and a half hour collection of previews of coming films, DVD's and teases of what's to come over the next two/three years. This event did offer some surprises and the fact that they didn't let you bring your camera was a clue to this. If they have a Parks & Resorts event at a future Expo where they don't allow cameras or cell phones then you will have a clue that something is going to be shown that you'll want to be there for. But even with all these wonderful surprises, there were thousands of people, yes thousands, that didn't get to see any of it. They had to wander around the panels and exhibits checking websites for updates. All while two thousand seats sat empty. But it was intimate right? I was one of the lucky ones with a connection, but most were not.
The really bad thing is those that got up, drove to this thing and waited for three or four hours ahead or more only to be told that the Arena was full. Now, if those other seats were available there still would have been people who didn't get in to see it, but there would have been far less. And to make matters worse, this event was not advertised as a D23 Member exclusive event. That's because it was open to the public... or so it was advertised. But the geniuses at planning didn't think this one through. See, if you are a D23 member then you get early admission to the Expo. Fair enough, but it also means that you can line up for the Arena queue up to an hour before anyone else can. Including those that have been there four hours before you. So by the time the attendees were let in, it was full.
No one that waited in this line got to see the show. If the other two thousand seats had been available, many would have got to see it. But Disney chose to only buy out two thirds of it and make the others that waited feel like they'd wasted a good deal of time. Unless you were someone in the media or a D23 member you were shut out. That's not how it was advertised and that is not how it was planned, but it is how events unfolded. And several of the media weren't too happy having their reporting materials confiscated. To make matters worse, Marvel live-blogging the announcements made many reporters upset that they were invited to cover an event only to be scooped by the host. And with the chaos that happened over these three days many in the media felt that Disney had been touting that they can hold an event as good as, or better than Comic-Con does. The reporters I talked to believe they clearly cannot.
I can tell you at least one vice president no longer has a job because of these screw ups and I can think of one or two more I wouldn't mind seeing let go. I think the planning should have been done to make sure everyone wanted to return for the next expo. I don't know if that will happen, because I talked to several people that were so frustrated they didn't know wether or not they were going to book it. I think many will wait for the schedule to see what is planned. And several of those will wait to see if the Arena is fully booked, because if they plan on leaving a third empty then many will just stay home. Because they'll know that the events they are being told they have a chance of seeing, they have no real chance of attending. The planners of the next event had better have at least the entire Arena available or there will be major complaints. At least? How can they have more? Well, there are several rooms that weren't rented out which the event planners could have put seats in and big screens at the front to broadcast the events. If they're worried about cameras and cell phones then they can ban them from this room like they did for the Studios keynote. But at least many more will get to see it. That would leave the guest happy to have been part of the magic they wanted to see. Imagine that, Disney?
There were several things that went well, but far too many screw ups were worse than the original Expo, which shouldn't have happened. I wonder how many who worked that last one were paying attention? I wonder if they really thought this through? It certainly didn't appear so this time. They had better examine the problems they had and address them before next time. I remember hearing the PR Suits saying that two years would help them plan for an even better expo. Really? Then next time play it safe.
Plan three, four or even five years in advance, please...
One of the things announced at D23 this weekend was a continuation of the goldmine known as "Tangled" next year...
Not a sequel, but a short that will debut on the Disney Channel in 2012. Nathan Greno and Byron Howard will bring us "Tangled Ever After" as a special event on the Mouse's main cable channel which has yet to be scheduled.
Now, if some of those shorts inch closer to production...
Saturday, August 20, 2011
For those that didn't attend the D23 Expo here is a surprise for you...
No long lines. No crappy, overpriced food. No dealing with screw-ups that shouldn't have happened. Just sit back in your chair and click the links. Watch them at your leisure and pause then to go to the bathroom or grab another drink from the fridge. Through the magic of YouTube you can be there.
Others have sacrificed for your pleasure:
Tom Staggs' Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Keynote - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Carousel of Projects - Disney and More has excellent coverage of this as well as here and more here.
Buena Vista Street Panel - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Disney Legends Panel - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.
Talk with Mickey Presentation - Part 1, Part 2.
Voices from the Parks Panel - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.
Imagineering Cars Land Panel - Highlights here.
Walt Disney Studios Keynote - What, are you crazy? You think even we have that? Move along!
And now we can all wait for the next D23 Expo...
Friday, August 19, 2011
And so ends the first day of D23 Expo 2011...
I thought I'd add a few comments from Blue Sky's perspective on the second convention put on by the Mouse. I got to attend quite a few panels today that I wanted to. I barely got into Tom Staggs speech after a very interesting conversation with a couple of Bothans. But here are some thoughts.
First off, it's evident that Disney decided to pull back somewhat from the 2009 expo. Whereas the first one was over four days, this year there is only a three day event. The rooms used for panels was lowered as well. Disney is trying to be somewhat conservative after their first expo and not over plan for some of the events. I believe they intended to tighten their belt a bit this time and see how things go with the fans. The one area where I think they made a mistake is by not renting out the entire Arena for the big events. Sure, the line going around is that they wanted to make it more intimate, but that's not the case. The first expo had events using all 6000 seats in the Arena, while this year they're only using 4000 seats. Disney expected to save some money by not renting out many of the top tier seats (hence the propaganda about "intimate."). But truthfully, all that did was leave hundreds of fans unhappy and angry that they were left waiting outside in a line that had no hope of seeing events. If they're going to do this again next time, I suggest they at least put some screens along the queue area to allow those not inside to at least view Tom's announcements.
Now, as far as what was announced? Not much new as I expected. I know that a couple of things that were on the list got cut off for a later announcement (the program was reduced from an hour and a half to just an hour). But all present got to see a lot more of the progress on the current projects. If anyone expected a lot of new info to be released, all you had to do was look at the description of the keynote to make you lower your expectations. No new projects were going to announced for Disneyland as that will upstage all the stuff surrounding DCA. You can expect that we won't hear much about the next phase for that park till after next summer.
As for Shanghai, if you were visiting the Carousel of Projects then you'd see that vague model and those rotating pictures behind it. But that's all you'll see for a while. This park is about five years away. So they are in deep blue sky right now. it'll be another two years before the plans start to finalize and closer to three before you see any tangible progress. Even the projects that we announced here could evolve. This is "Blue Sky" Disney, of course. Nothing is set in stone just yet. Plans are made, shown to execs and then they're sent back to the drawing board. Tom himself has had them go back and change plans a couple times already. Disney spent a lot of time wooing the Chinese over the last decade with many samples of artwork that showed extravagant designs of beautiful things that would be possible in this park. Now, the hard part will be actually turning that paint into something buildable for a budget. Kind of like what they have to do with this year's expo.
Then it's all about managing expectations...
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
With only a couple days to go before the Mini-Con, I thought it was time to address a few things...
I know that several sites have reported on several rumors about Shanghai Disneyland. Blue Sky has been relatively quite on the subject lately. Part of that is having to deal with the real world and the limits of time I have. The other part is that I promised my Bothans not to speak about certain thing until the fall. I've also only spoke to them a few times in the past several months. Tom Staggs is a very good leader, that apparently understands the workings of Imagineering better than Jay Rasulo ever could. And he's also good at stopping leaks. But from what I've heard, I'm slowly becoming a fan of the direction he is headed. Staggs is a business man first, but he's someone that seems to get what most bean counters don't. And having him in charge of the parks could offer great opportunities ahead. Time will tell, but I think the Walt Disney Company is a world away from where it was a decade ago. And I clearly think he is the obvious candidate to replace Bob Iger when he decides to step down. Which I hope he realizes in his tenure before Eisner did.
That said, lets move on to Asia:
First off, the rumors that you've heard about a TRON attraction are true. It will take the place of Space Mountain in this sixth Magic Kingdom styled park. It is the giant white dome you see in that overview artwork piece the company released when they officially announced the resort a while back. It will be enclosed in darkness so that you won't see the exposed beams that shoot the lightcycle-type vehicles through the world of Tron (And yes, like the websites are saying, it is based on the Vekoma Motobike System designs).
As we were the first to break this, yes the water attraction that we mentioned is called the "Lost World River Rapids" and it is the mountain that you see in that artwork that was released (you did click on the link to "The Lost World" novel right?). I was able to tease what it was, but I wasn't able to reveal the name. Now that it's out, I can say that the stories are correct and there is more. Remember when Bob Iger mentioned that this park will be uniquely Chinese? Well, that's one of the reasons this attraction was approved. China is home to the largest collection of dinosaur finds in the world and the Mouse wants to play this up. The ride itself will be influenced by the GRR attraction that we have here in California, but it will be different. First off, it will have dinosaur audio-animatronics on it. Unless they make budget cuts, like happened on GRR, which have twice ended the inclusion of AA's, then you can expect a prehistoric experience. Also, the rockwork is very beautiful and extravagant. It is also expensive and over budget in design. Let's hope that the project isn't downscaled because the design is quite lovely and will become an instant classic. Please don't cut the beauty simply because of the cost overruns, Mr. Staggs.
Some people have noticed that Mayan temple over in the Adventureland area and have supposed that it is a Indiana Jones attraction. I can confirm that it is not. As of now, there are no plans to include the Man in the Hat on opening day. Things could change, but the designs of this attraction are not based on the Lucasfilm property. What it is, I can't say at this time, but wanted to tell you what it's not.
I know that sites are starting to report that the area will include a new "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction with elements based on the designs of the attraction that was proposed for Hong Kong Disneyland. I can't confirm this, but there was/will be a POTC stunt show similar to the Indiana Jones one at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Whether this to be done in conjunction with or in place of the attraction, I'm not sure. As always, time will tell, and maybe we'll find out in not too much time.
There will be no Frontierland as of my last talks with the Bothans. Not that it hasn't been mentioned, but the plans for anything related to something that would go in such an area, would be placed in another land. While Japanese don't have any conception of what a "frontier" is, the Chinese experience with that term is known and considered far more negative. Hence the decision to not have a land named for it. In truth, Shanghai itself is the true Frontierland; wild, untamed and full of energy.
Just like HKDL has a variation of the Haunted Mansion, the Shanghai park will have variations on classic Disney attractions. In this case, the "Jungle Cruise" will be part of the park when it opens up in 2015/16, albeit with the same kind of variations that you see between the original Haunted Mansion and Mystic Manor. But it will be classic WDI from the designs I know of.
Over in Fantasyland, the "Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster" is a go. This appears to be a clone of the one being built in the Extreme Expansion of WDW's Fantasyland. Another attraction that will be found in this land that is not in China's other Disney park is "Peter Pan" and a variation of the classic "Winnie the Pooh" ride. Plans are evolving and discussions are ongoing as to which other attractions are to be included. Expect at least one, possibly two more to join these on opening day.
That slow flume ride beneath the castle is also true as well. But, while some sites have reported that it will go throughout the entire park, it will actually only travel around Fantasyland. But it will be a beautiful ride through that popular land. The experience you get will be one of an enveloping fairytale, but done with the Imagineer's golden touch.
Disney and it's Imagineers have had a difficult time adjusting to Chinese culture and their way of doing things. It is a learning experience and a frustrating one at times. The way that things are constructed and the guidelines that China uses are not what WDI expects and it has been a challenge dealing with the way things are done in the Middle Kingdom, and Shanghai in particular. Let's just say the tools they use, figuratively and literally are different than what Glendale is used to working with.
There will be plans and models shown at the D23 Expo, but I wouldn't expect everything or most of what has been revealed here to debut. Unless Staggs changes the initial plans then we can really expect an overview with some minor surprises. But we'll have to wait for that big, beautiful tomorrow to find out.
Because tomorrow is only a tomorrow away...
Sunday, August 14, 2011
If you haven't seen it, MTV has a video interview with the busiest man in entertainment...
Guillermo del Toro spoke with the network about many of his upcoming projects, including: "The Haunted Mansion," his "Hulk" television series, his giant robot vs. giant monster film, "Pacific Rim," among many other projects, including his new foray into video games, "inSANE." But didn't include anything on his new book series, "The Strain" or "Trollhunters" over at DreamWorks Animation. I guess if they discussed everything the man is connected to then it would have turned into a mini-series.
An interesting interview as he's quite candid and open as a film maker and creator. If there is ever to be a case for cloning, del Toro is the man I'd recommend as the first candidate. Just image all the projects that we'd have coming out. My only complaint is that the interview about Mansion doesn't include the most obvious question: "Will he direct it?" I suspect he won't, but will co-write and produce it. But I'd like a definitive answers, none-the-less.
Now if he can just get "At the Mountains of Madness" made then he'll have complete domination of the world...
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Disney is still in the buying mood it appears...
In a conference call with investors for the Walt Disney Company the other day, Bob Iger mentioned that the Mouse was looking at the opportunity to buy other characters. Now, I know that people will complain about a lack of creativity, but the Maestro himself purchased the rights to several characters he didn't own(101 Dalmatians, Winnie the Pooh, ect.). Many of those characters today are thought of as being as Disney as Mickey Mouse. But I'll take this opportunity to stand up on my soapbox once again:
Star Wars/Indiana Jones/Lucasfilm.
These characters have been inside Disney Parks for two decades and most guests, particularly young boys, identify them as Disney characters to begin with. To inform them that they aren't owned by Disney would be a surprise to most if not all. If Iger is true to this statement then it's time to purchase them from Lucas and make it happen. I can only cross my fingers that this is what has been happening in back channels. I dream of Iger having meetings with George Lucas up in Marin County, discussing a transaction similar to the Marvel deal over a nice lunch at Skywalker Ranch.
If there is any company that Lucas could/would/should leave his characters in the hands of, it's the Walt Disney Company. It represents a strong collection of characters that Iger can utilize across all sectors of the company. From merchandise, television, film, theme parks, the brands represent an opportunity for the company to expand earnings and generate content with a very recognizable list of characters.
If George doesn't want to continue the films beyond Episode VI then you could have adventures like "Knights of the Old Republic," or that "Boba Fett" film that Joe Johnston wants to make. How about a Star Wars animated film from Pixar or Walt Disney Animated Studios under the guidance of John Lasseter? Or even a possible reboot/reinterpretation of the films the way J.J. Abrams did with "Star Trek."
Television offers opportunities as well, with the Clone Wars series being such a success on the Cartoon Network, shows made for Disney XD would be a given. And lets not forget to mention my long dream of an "Indiana Jones" animated series from Paul Dini. How about an animated series focusing on "The Adventures of Han & Chewie?" And if ABC can have a network show coming that stars the Hulk, could you not see one staring Republic Commandos?
Then there is the possibility of expanding the Lucasfilm brand in the parks. Could you see an entire section in the Hollywood Studios dedicated to Star Wars? Or even better: A Fifth Gate that is nothing but that? The opportunities are endless and as big as the universe the Bearded One created. So, I think Bob Iger should take the advise of one of Star Wars wisest characters:
Do, or do not, there is no try...
Hat Tip to The Disney Blog.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Time passes so quickly that you tend to lose perspective of what has happened...
Or what could happen. The middle of the decade is only about three and a half years away. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at where the Mouse will likely be then.
When we get to 2015 you have to wonder where the Walt Disney Company will be. What will the film business be like? The theme parks division? How will the events and advances in technologies change or advance the Burbank entertainment company? In this post, I thought we'd look at the film division.
Walt Disney Studios -
This division is divided into five branches that includes Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Touchstone Studios.
Walt Disney Pictures:
The live action family division of the Mouse at the middle of the decade will have released "John Carter," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," probably "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" and various others. A "TR3N" will likely have been released if the reception to "Tron: Uprising" meets the Suits approval. And should many of those films be successful, then you can imagine sequels to several of them would be on the way. Another John Carter would be close to production or already being filmed based on how much box office receipts came in in 2012. A sixth, and likely final Pirate film starring Johnny Depp would undoubtedly be in the making as well. The likelihood of Rich Ross still being in charge will depend on the success of many of these films as well as several comedies recently approved. Should we get more stinkers like what has come out with over the past year, another head of the studios could be in charge by the middle of the decade. Success in this business has a way of leveling out and rolling heads.
Walt Disney Animation Studios:
The heart and soul of the company will look dramatically different come a few years. The output of films will have been of a consistently better quality for the good part of a decade by then (Pixar bought in 2006, "Bolt" two years later). With Lasseter making sure stories count more than bean counter opinions, audiences will hopefully have started to regain faith in the brand by then. Also the variety of films will have broadened. While princesses and queens and kings will still be present, stories that you wouldn't normally think of coming from Disney will have come or be soon coming from Disney. By 2015, you can expect "Wreck It Ralph," "King of the Elves," and likely "Snow Queen" to be out come the middle of decade. But the most interesting ones are yet to come from the trailers of what Dean Wellins and Don Hall have planned. By this time WDAS will have likely rebuilt a reputation that war torn down over the late 90's/early 2000's.
Pixar Animation Studios:
Up north in Emeryville, Disney North will be passed all the announced films that we know will continue through 2013. Next year is "Brave" which presents a princess tale from the Lamp's point of view. Afterwards, "Monster University" will roll into theater the following year. 2014 and 2015 have yet to be announced, but one of those films is likely to be by Pete Docter, and there are four or five other projects that are in various states of active development up there and anyone of them could be moved on the production slate. It all depends on which ones Lasseter believes are ready to move into production. I would expect an expansion of the slate of films from Emeryville to be announced within the next year or so. We're about due for another list.
Disney's latest sibling has a much fuller and more open slate over the next few years. Now, this is a list of films the studio is producing itself, not the characters that have been licensed to other studios. But by 2015 expect to see "Avengers," "Iron Man 3," "Thor 2," "Ant Man," "Captain America 2," and possibly a "Runaways," film, a "Doctor Strange," film and a "S.H.I.E.L.D." film. This isn't even counting several other projects that are gestating like "Iron Fist" and others that the comic book powerhouse are planning for the silver screen.
Over at the adult live-action division, which has basically become a distribution house for Steven Spielberg, will have just had the five year/thirty picture deal expire the year before. Should DreamWorks and Disney seem to be enjoying the marriage at this time, you could expect a similar five year plan to be announced. Films like "Lincoln," "Robopocalypse" and several others will have been released within this time frame. That would mark a decade worth of relationships with Spielberg and his company. Hopefully, some of his talent will be used in other areas of the company throughout these coming years.
The many divisions of the studio focus on different aspects of the market. Walt Disney Pictures concentrates on the live-action family entertainment. Walt Disney Animation Studios concentrates on classic animated entertainment. Pixar Animation Studios concentrates on cutting edge animated entertainment. Marvel Studios concentrates on live-action adventures of its vast catalog of characters. Touchstone Pictures which used to be another label of Disney produced/non-Disney stories will now concentrate on the new mission of being a simple distribution label for DreamWorks. It's come a long way from where it was as a small, animation company that made shorts for RKO Pictures to play in front of their features.
It's going to be interesting to see where it after the the middle of this decade...
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Two years ago today, an important part of my youth vanished...
Film maker John Hughes passed away on this date in 2009.
I will never forget about him...