Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Big Changes

Another director has been added to Walt Disney Animation Studios' Big Hero 6, and a new producer has taken over…

Chris Williams, who was one of the directors of Bolt and a long-time story man who worked in the story department on several other Disney animated films (such as Mulan, The Emperor's New Groove and Brother Bear), is now co-piloting the ship with director Don Hall. Roy Conli has been named producer, replacing long-time effects producer Kristina Reed. Reed also produced the wonderful Paperman, in fact she was the poor soul who got kicked out of the Oscar ceremony for throwing paper airplanes! Those killjoys…

Why was she replaced? We'll probably never know. (Cue the Lasseter micromanagement comments…) Conli seems like the kind of guy for this project, though, since I see it as a risky experiment much like Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet, the latter of which he produced. Still, it's sad to see Reed go. Maybe she'll handle producing duties on another Walt Disney Animation Studios project. Hopefully.

This is from the newly-launched Big Hero 6 Tumblr...

But the bigger question is, why all of this at the last minute? Well, if you remember way back in November 2012, it was announced that Wreck-It Ralph scribe Jennifer Lee was going to direct Frozen alongside Chris Buck. With that film's success (it's on track to top $300 million at the domestic box office), maybe Disney feels that adding another director to the project this late in the game will bolster it.

Williams hadn't directed a finished film at Walt Disney Animation Studios since Bolt, which was released five years ago. Back in 2010, he was going to be the one to bring the once ill-fated King of the Elves to the screen, but the project was apparently rife with story problems so he backed out. The elves got shelved again, they are still waiting to be re-evaluated.

Maybe the studio just wants to give him some directorial work right now, since Elves didn't really go over too well. Or maybe there are some last-minute issues with this picture - it happens a lot with animated features and most films in general - with the story and whatnot, and maybe that's the reason why Reed got the boot.

Either way, I'm still excited for the film. Do you think the changes were necessary? Or do you think they came too late in the game? Sound off below!

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