And so the weeks of either disheartening animation news or nothing at all continues, as John Kahrs spoke up about the departure last Thursday...
“I will miss working with them, and feel lucky to have played a part in the revitalization of the studio. They have an abundance of projects; an incredible development slate, but I’ve decided to develop my own projects and pursue directing elsewhere. It was very amicable — they were very gracious about that — and I believe we all left the door open.”
Sugarcoated PR talk? Or honest words? Most people will probably believe the former, given the rather unsure and seemingly harsh climate at both Burbank and Emeryville, but could it be possible that Kahrs had a good reason to leave and that it had nothing to do with the big bad evil Hawaiian shirt guy?
Perhaps what Kahrs wants to do with an animated feature may not work for a Disney animated feature. Perhaps he's got something very experimental planned for the future, something that may be too experimental for the Mouse House. John Kahrs was said to be directing his own feature film at Disney in The Los Angeles Times' first look at Big Hero 6 and their evaluation of the studio in its current state, so that may imply that he "butted heads" with Lasseter early on.
Or maybe - as some people have pointed out - he doesn't want to wait. Wait, you ask? Well, Disney's slate from 2016 to 2018 is already filled with other projects (Zootopia, Giants, Moana and something else - whether it's Dean Wellins' troubled space film or whatever) that were probably in development before his, which means that a Kahrs-directed Disney Animation film wouldn't be out until 2019 at the earliest. Maybe he wants to latch onto something right now, but where will he go is the bigger question? One of the big studios? DreamWorks? A smaller studio maybe?
Wherever he goes, I wish him the best of luck. I also hope that Disney experiments with Meander, as some skeptics may feel that Disney will just abandon that and risk-taking altogether. (Jumping the gun, are we?)
In the mean time, let's try not to fret.