Friday, February 10, 2012

Upcoming Animated Films - My Thoughts (Part 12)

Pixar, DreamWorks, and now... Walt Disney Animation Studios...

A while ago, we often heard about several upcoming Disney animated films. We would hear about projects that were never realized: Wild Life, My Peoples, Fraidy Cat, Aida, The Emperor and the Nightingale, Antonius, Uncle StiltskinDon Quixote, a third Fantasia... Nowadays, you only hear about a couple. So far, the only post-2012 Disney film that has a release date is Frozen. Only two films are confirmed to be in development, the third film listed here is something that was announced a while back but not much has been said about it since. It seems like Disney is taking it easy, not working on too many projects, while Pixar is okay with announcing 3-5 upcoming projects and DreamWorks is announcing over 15 upcoming projects. It seems like Walt Disney Animation Studios is still searching for a new direction. You'd think with John Lasseter running things, they would do an ambitious film that echoes the ambition of the Golden Age animated films. Why haven't they tried? Perhaps Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen may prove me wrong (and I hope they do), but with only two films in development and no announcements for other ideas being considered, Disney just might be lost right now.

King of the Elves
Like Frozen, this one was always on and off. When Disney first announced it in 2008, it was originally going to come out in December 2012. It was canceled and then it was announced for a December 2013 release not too long ago. Right now, it’s said to be in development. This one is based on a Phillip K. Dick story about a man living in Mississippi, who is named king by a band of elves. According to some source, it’s going to computer animated, and not hand-drawn. Chris Williams, the director of Bolt, is at the helm of the project.
Untitled Mickey Mouse Film
Disney veteran Burny Mattinson confirmed that this film is in development. Technically, this is Mickey Mouse’s first full-length animated film but it’s not his first feature film appearance. (Fantasia, Fun & Fancy Free) Anyways, what could this film be about? Will it be a hand-drawn animated film? I sure hope so, because CGI Mickey just wouldn’t work. Mickey was always a traditional animation icon, and he remains a traditional animation icon. (with the exception of that dreadful Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show, Walt wouldn’t be happy if he saw that) If the whole film is computer animated, then it just won’t work in my eyes. I think a lot of people might think the same. This project actually reminds me of a scrapped Disney crossover film called In Search of Mickey Mouse, a project brought up during the Michael Eisner era where all the Disney characters team up to find a missing Mickey Mouse. Yeah, let’s be glad that never happened. Also, what would the title be? While a Mickey Mouse film could work, I just think it’s a little too safe for Walt Disney Animation Studios. It’s not a big risk, and it’s guaranteed to be a smash hit. Now what if the film was an Epic Mickey movie? That would be something to look forward to. I doubt that Disney would turn it into a film, but anything's possible. If they did, then it would be right in line with Wreck-It Ralph. It would be experimental, ambitious and bold. That could really work, but since they only said it's a Mickey Mouse film, I can't see it being an Epic Mickey movie.
It was announced back in 2010 that Disney would adapt Mort, which is the fourth novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Apparently this project will be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. This story seems very dark and something that Walt Disney would’ve considered adapting back in the 1940s. It reminds me of The Black Cauldron in some ways, which could’ve been an epic fantasy film if it weren’t for the directionless atmosphere of the Disney studios in the 1970s. By the time the studio ramped up their ambitions in the early 1980s, it was too late. Since the studio is a lot different from what it was back then, maybe Mort  could be the dark Disney fantasy film we’ve been waiting for, if it enters production. With a PG-rated fantasy epic like this, Disney could prove their naysayers wrong and put an end to the belief that Disney animation is only for children. This could be that very film, and while Disney has gotten better in the storytelling department, their films lack that risky punch. Walt Disney’s first five films were groundbreaking, why can’t Walt Disney Animation Studios continue that tradition and break new ground? Pixar does it, why can’t they do the same? Perhaps they’re waiting to see how Wreck-It Ralph will do, maybe? If Frozen follows the risky, ambitious route and goes over well, maybe Mort will be reconsidered. Like I said earlier, Disney needs to take some real risks in order to climb back to the top of the animation ladder. Sure, Tangled was a smash hit, but it was lucky. The Princess and the Frog should've done well like that. If Disney takes a big risk and pulls it off, people will go see it. I could go on and on about how Disney can really get back on top (as in getting near-universal praise for their films and crashing the $800 million barrier at the worldwide box office), but I'll save that for another post.

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking that Brave will be the film to get people to believe that animation isn't for children. Your thoughts?