Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mouse Rumblings

Screen Crush recently did a whole piece on Big Hero 6, as that Walt Disney Animation Studios superhero epic nears…

Producer Roy Conli (who also produced The Hunchback of Notre DameTreasure PlanetThe Princess and the Frog and Tangled) was interviewed for the piece, and he stated that a new traditionally animated feature is not out of the question. I repeat, not out of the question. He said that if someone has a great pitch for a 2D film, it'll happen.

He also said… Well, this. When talking about Big Hero 6 Don Hall, that is.

"The fact that Don was interested in this. It’ll be interesting to see where Don comes on to the next project. Don may want to do something in Southeast Asia."

Southeast Asia? Well, Disney has been setting stories in or around the East as of late. Big Hero 6's setting may be in a fictional city in future California, but the city itself is an amalgamation of Tokyo and San Francisco, and the story is immersed in Japanese culture in general. Moana is set in Polynesia, so a Southeast Asia-set Disney animated film wouldn't seem too unexpected. I mean, why would Conli randomly mention Southeast Asia? It could be set anywhere too, Disney has covered India before (The Jungle Book) along with China (Mulan), so maybe they're developing another film set in one of those countries? Maybe Indonesia? Philippines? Malaysia? Who knows, but I could be looking way too much into this. For all I know, Conli's comment could've been a throwaway one.

(Or it could be hinting at that Name Game project… I'll get to that in a moment, don't get confused, haha.)

That being said, I'll never believe that 2D is "dead". Like I said a few posts back, it's a medium that executives seem to have a phobia of (when it comes to theatrical feature-length films) based on a series of blunders that happened a decade ago, and marketing muck-ups 3-5 years ago, but…

Going by what Conli had to say about Big Hero 6, it seems that the creative teams choose to bring their stories to life through CG, but the films have a hand-drawn underbelly. Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen more than show this, along with little things like pencil tests (the ones for Ralph in particular from Nik Ranieri and Eric Goldberg) and such. Big Hero 6 will be no different…

Anyways… Bleeding Cool's Brendon Connelly, usually an excellent source of WDAS info, tweeted this a few weeks ago…

Connelly, as many of you may know, got details on the film's plot synopsis last summer. I wonder…

A Tumblr account that appears to be run by someone who was a former crew member on Moana happened to say this…

"Hey again guys! Once again from the mouse house. It’s been a crazy few days. Things have been moving so fast out of the blue. The lovely Jennifer Lee submitted a new draft of Wrinkle the other day, and it got an extremely good response. The powers that be are considering a switch to live action. If that’s the case, it could open the floodgates for me to storm back into Moana production. ;)

On a side note, early last week they had some VO auditions, and there was some heresay around the office that Daisy Ridley (of Star Wars fame) was brought in for a private audition for a speaking/singing role. Not sure what project it’s for, but Giants has been in preliminary VO casting for a bit, so that seems to be most likely the part she went in for.

Also, the Frozen Frenzy short should be opening in front of Cinderella, barring any production delays.

Thanks again for the awesome support! We love looking at the fan art! Keep ‘em coming! ;)

-Inside the mouse house"

Lee's project was pitched as an animated film? That's news to me, all the trades implied that it would be a Walt Disney Studios live-action film. If Giants is indeed in preliminary VO casting, then that implies it'll come first, not Moana. That's what Honor Hunter over at Blue Sky Disney said last summer, and I keep assuming it'll be WDAS' Thanksgiving 2016 release.

But Connelly's comment could suggest that a) Moana will come first in fall 2016, or b) Giants will be feature #56 after Zootopia (March 2016), but it won't be a fall 2016 release as planned. Spring 2017 perhaps? Summer 2017? There will have to be a lot of movement on the animation front if that's the case.

Back to Moana, the same person posted this…

"Hey there Moana fans, it’s the little birdie from inside the mouse house. I wish I could be sneaking some more pictures to you guys, but I’ve left the project. It was a blast to work on, and production is still full steam, but I’m absolutely loving my job on Wrinkle in Time, one of our newer projects.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be sending you guys this message if I didn’t have news…

It isn’t much, but you should start hearing Moana news within the next year… especially at a certain convention. If I were you, I’d start looking at tickets for D23 2015… ;)

Keep the magic going! It really helps everyone here at the studio.

Good luck!

- The guy inside the Mouse House"

I would've figured that Disney would officially unveil it next year, considering that 2016's Zootopia was presented at last summer's D23. It would make sense that the 2015 D23 (remember, every 2 years) would feature Moana. In 2015, it'll be a project that's around 3 years away. It's only a matter of time until Disney breaks the ice, even though outsiders broke it last summer.

It's fascinating that Moana, out of all of Disney's upcoming films, has gotten the most attention. There's already swamps of fan-art everywhere, I haven't seen anything for Giants other than a fan-made logo. Moana also has a fan-made logo, and I see people mistaking the fan-art and fan-made logo for official Disney stuff. SUGA Magazine put up this post on Facebook a few weeks ago saying the film was set for 2015, using fan-art… Then days later they corrected it! I guess all of this excitement is based on the fact that it'll be about a Polynesian heroine, or maybe the fact that the film has a female lead that isn't necessarily a princess. Giants probably isn't as anticipated because - I'm guessing - we all know Jack and the Beanstalk, plus Disney adapted it before. Moana is an original story, Disney Animation usually adapts pre-existing stories whether they are fairy tales, novels or works of children's literature.

Now, as for The Name Game

In early 2013, someone thought they knew what Ron Clements and John Musker's next project was. It was rumored that the film they were directing was called The Name Game, a new take on Rumplestiltskin. However, confusion was cleared up and it was confirmed that the dream team weren't adapting a fairy tale for their next feature. From what I know, Ron and John pitched three ideas to John Lasseter in early 2011, Moana was the one that was approved. This pitch occurred after Disney couldn't get the rights to Terry Pratchett's Discworld, which Ron and John were planning to adapt (particular the Mort book) for their next project.

So later on, in summer 2013, Honor Hunter revealed what WDAS' slate was looking like inside the Hat Building: Zootopia in spring 2016, Giants in fall 2016, Moana in spring 2018, and a Dean Wellins-directed sci-fi epic/teen space race movie in fall 2018. He said nothing about The Name Game (I don't recall him ever even talking about it), and made a brief mention of King of the Elves in another post from around the time, saying it wasn't really progressing.

This make me question whether The Name Game/new-take-on-Rumple exists or not.

If it is in development (Connelly said a while back that a Rumple film was in development once, which is true. Disney's attempted to adapt it before.), it could be on the table. If so, when would it come out?

Honor Hunter said that the sci-fi movie once set for fall 2018 got lost in space back in September, so now it doesn't look like it'll be the November 2018 release. Let's just say Giants is the fall 2016 release and Moana is the spring 2018 release…

November 2018 could go to anything at this point: The Name Game/Rumple, Wreck-It Ralph 2, King of the Elves, that Mickey Mouse film that Burny Mattinson pitched… Or something we haven't heard of yet, or won't hear about for a long while. It could be Ralph 2, since they can't wait too much longer to unleash the sequel. King of the Elves stalled in 2011 after it was put in a "production race" (again, thanks to Honor Hunter for that information) with Frozen, a race that would determine what would be WDAS' 2013 release. The Mickey Mouse movie, sadly, seems to be a thing of the past. It's also possible we could get another Eisner-era leftover, there's a treasure trove full of those.

So I'm thinking it's either the wrecker's next adventure, or something that hasn't been announced/leaked/hinted at yet.

One thing is for certain though, Walt Disney Animation Studios has become more secretive these days while hints do slip through the cracks. It's fun, to me, to speculate.


  1. Very interesting stuff, not to mention it's great to know that a hand-drawn animated film is not out of the question at Walt Disney Animation Studios. it's great to know that Disney knows where its roots lie, even if there isn't any features on the docket for hand-drawn at the moment. As for the Mickey Mouse, film. I'm still certain that it will be officially announced sooner or later, if not in 2018. If it does get made, I'd like for it to be either hand-drawn (least likely scenario) or done in the Meander technique that was used in Paperman if they are able to successfully add color to the technology.

  2. I think the reason Disney is focusing on Asia a lit lately is because China and Japan and Korea r some of Disneys most important markets, and appealing to them means more money.

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  5. Oooh I wonder what place their going to take for their future hand drawn animated feature.