Don't stop, go, go, go...
A lot has been happening in the Hat Building over the past six months...
After all, at the end of last year saw the release of "Tangled," which was a huge film for the studio. Not only did it relieve a bit of pressure to perform by the Disney animators, it also made way for a lot of projects to move further into development. Many have complained that there wasn't much in development over the past few years, causing many an animator/artist to get a layoff notice.
I am happy to tell you that that is not the case now. Of course, the development slate is nowhere near as large as DreamWorks Animation, which has a very large and long list of projects, but it is getting fattened up, and it's still growing.
First off, we know that Walt Disney Animation Studios next film is the hand-drawn sequel "Winnie the Pooh," which comes out as counter programing to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2." But where does the road take us after that?
Well, come 2012 we know that Rich Moore's "Wreck-It Ralph" will be the studios' animated offering. I hear that the project is very different from the last few films, but still shares the same, Disney heart. If some of the hysterically dark scenes I heard make it though the cut then this one will get an unusually rare, PG13 rating for the 52nd animated feature from Disney Animation. But we'll have to wait and see what final form it arrives in.
As of 2013, the next project to be moving down the pipeline is newly re-envisioned "King of the Elves," which has been chugging along under the direction of Chris Williams (something we reported exclusively last year). The storyboarding has been going on, new scenes are being written and the story structure is being tightened up. This CG animated feature should tentatively arrive during the holidays unless a kink in the production process pops up. I've heard many people asking if rumors of it being out of development were true and from what I know, it has continually been moving forward since last year.
Now for 2014, it gets a little murkier, as these projects are in a more fluid state of development, so changes could happen. But as of now, this is what you are likely to see.
Based on the current state of projects, a CG version of "Snow Queen" directed by Chris Buck is likely to see release sometime during the year. The story structure problems that popped up in the last hand-drawn version seem to be ironed out and storyboarding has moved forward with Chris' unique take on the material. And for those of you wondering if it'll be faithful to the original story? I can only say that it'll be as faithful to it as the Mouse was to "The Little Mermaid." Presuming that another film gets released that year, it is likely to be the new hand-drawn film from John Musker and Ron Clements. And no, I'm not talking "Mort" as the rights to that would have required the Mouse to purchase the entire series, which it didn't want to commit to. So this new project is something else that the duo has pitched Lasseter. All that is known, is that it will be hand-drawn.
After that, in the 2014/2015 range will be the untitled project coming from Nathan Greno & Bryon Howard's. Not much is known about this film, but the duo hit it off on "Tangled" and have apparently pitched a project that Lasseter thinks will be great. If their project is not ready, then Dean Wellins' project will fill the slot. His is a story that will be very different from the mold we picture Disney animated films and this is a project that is aimed at all those boys that don't like princess movies.
Sometime around this point in the schedule, Don Hall's super secret project may have been greenlit and far enough down the line to be penciled in for a 2015/2016 release. That project, once announced will generate a lot of buzz in certain geek communities, as it's going to surprise a lot of people for what it is and what it's not. But it's in the very early embryonic stage and it depends on how well the project is received upon the presentation that is being prepared for John and Ed.
After that, there are several ideas that are being prepared for pitches which could compete for time on the release slate, but as of now there you have it. It will be interesting seeing how Disney's marketing department deals with some of these titles as they are out of what we normally picture for a Disney film. Even some of the ones you would think are in the classic mold, are really not.
Although several of these films have titles, they are very much temporary ones and are as much in flux as is the schedule itself. The development track expanding in the last year is a very positive step and Lasseter's trust in the talent is also a very reassuring development as well.
The greatest contribution about last years hit is not the box office it generated, but that it may have untangled the restrictions that had been placed on the company's animation future...