In speaking with Jim Hill, Keane had this to say...
"I'm just about to start a little company. Glen Keane Productions. I'm starting very small with animation, drawings and the like. I'm about to start working on a new project that I really can't start talking about yet. But I've got some ideas."
Speculation is probably wild right now. I bet many are probably saying that this small studio will be like an up-and-coming revolutionary house much like Don Bluth's studio was in 1979, one that will usher in a new era of hand-drawn animation. I had thought about this a while back, if Disney couldn't do it (that's all up in the air) then some smaller outlet would. After all, those recently laid off artists (such as Nik Raineri and Ruben Aquino) have to find work somewhere. People thought that they would start a studio or at least try to keep theatrical hand-drawn animation alive.
It's great to know that Keane still plans to work in animation, and I hope his studio will specialize in small-scale hand-drawn films that will function as the antithesis of all the big budget computer animated films being released by the big studios. Again, I and many others liken this to Don Bluth.
Don Bluth had ambition, he wanted to experiment and bring animation back to the Golden Age. He was dismayed at the climate of the Disney studios in the 1970s. He left with fourteen of Disney's newly-recruited animators and they started up a new studio immediately, even the press picked up on it. They entered the ring with a bang with The Secret of NIMH, and the following feature would be produced by Steven Spielberg and it would be the highest grossing animated film on initial release... Of course, it drove Disney's brass - or more appropriately, two ignorant newbie suits Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg - to dive back into animation just as they were slowly distancing themselves from it.
An optimistic prediction: Keane's studio makes a hand-drawn film - and perhaps those laid off Disney artists work on it - and it becomes something of a wake-up call to Disney management and the American animation industry as a whole: Hand-drawn feature-length animation is commercially viable! I firmly believe that hand-drawn was somewhat shuffled away from feature-length films at Disney because of the suits, not someone like John Lasseter, who tried to bring back hand-drawn animation in the first place. They're still keeping it alive in some way if they can't use it for features, through shorts and whatnot - and perhaps Ron Clements and John Musker's Moana will be Paperman in movie form. One can only hope, right?
I wish great success for one of the greatest animators and his new studio. I'm excited to see what comes out of this new production company, and what their work might do for the animation world in the future...