In the original, and still the best, Disney Animated Feature ‘Snow White’, the beautiful Snow White is placed under a sleeping spell at the bite of an enchanted apple. There she lay until awaken by loves first kiss. Is that not an omen for the Disney / Pixar deal or what?
Over at BusinessWeek in a blog coincidentally called ‘Byte of the Apple‘, Peter Burrows ponders the motivations, if any, for Steve Jobs to sell Pixar (all or part) to Disney and then take a seat as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Walt Disney Company.
For starters, Jobs has always maintained that he likes Pixar just the
way it is: independant. It’s located in a beautiful campus in
Emeryville, Calif. that he helped design, sequestered far from the
exigencies of Hollywood. There’s no one to tell Pixar how to run its
business–for example, to push it to make more movies each year, even
at the expense of sacrificing the quality that’s enabled Pixar to crank
out an unblemished run of blockbusters.
Well, no one except the stock holders now.
But back to my original metaphor. In this story the Disney Company is Snow White, Pixar is the Apple, and ‘Problems at the Box Office (usually due to lack of a good story in the film) and the perceived need by executives to over come that deficiency’ is the Evil Queen. The executives want Disney to bite the apple and acquire the talent Pixar has, specifically the ability tell a good story. But if Disney does bite the apple I think exactly the opposite will happen the depression the feature animation department is in will turn into a long sleep.
Disney had the talent to tell stories better than anyone. Part of that talent is still around but feels that management has too much influence on the pictures. Part of the talent left to other studios either by choice or by being fired. Both those problems could be solved if the current studio management is willing to take some risk.
Here’s a risk I would really like to see. First, find a really good team of story tellers (keep your hands off Pixar, they’re not likely to want to work for Disney (try JJ Abrams or Joss Whedon (an ex-Disney Animation story fixer))), then team Glen Keane and Andreas Deja as directors, then find a really good lyricist and composer duo (hint look to the past here), and finally, write a modern day fairy tell that doesn’t rely on pop culture references but has a prince and princess duo that today’s young girls (who grow up faster than ever) and young boys (who pretty much like the same things still) can both latch on to.
I know, I know. That’s the holy grail. But hey, that’s the quest is about isn’t it.