Don’t bury Fairy Tales at Disney just yet

Yesterday the LA Times had a front page story that reported Disney Animation is closing the book on fairy tales. I immediately thought that this was either an over-reaction by the reporter or a purposeful statement by Disney to set expectations on Tangled, or both. Turns out both is likely correct.

First, a few comments from the LA Times piece:

…the curtain is falling on “princess movies,” which have been a part of Disney Animation’s heritage since the 1937 debut of its first feature film, “Snow White.” The studio’s Wednesday release of “Tangled,” a contemporary retelling of the Rapunzel story, will be the last fairy tale produced by Disney’s animation group for the foreseeable future.

“Films and genres do run a course,” said Pixar Animation Studios chief Ed Catmull, who along with director John Lasseter oversees Disney Animation. “They may come back later because someone has a fresh take on it … but we don’t have any other musicals or fairy tales lined up.” Indeed, Catmull and Lasseter killed two other fairy tale movies that had been in development, “The Snow Queen” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

The rest of the article contains some interesting insight on the current state of animation in Hollywood. It’s release just before Tangled opens can’t be a coincidence.

However, that first bit about the end of Fairy Tale stories? Well Ed Catmull had a clarifying statement yesterday afternoon, on his facebook page.

A headline in today’s LA Times erroneously reported that the Disney fairy tale is a thing of the past, but I feel it is important to set the record straight that they are alive and well at Disney and continue this week with Tangled, a contemporary retelling of a much loved story. We have a number of projects in development with new twists that audiences will be able to enjoy for many years to come. – Ed Catmull

I think this is a good sign for Walt Disney Animation Studios. Looking back over the whole history of Disney animation, one thing is certain, it’s not easy to produce a box office hit. It seems WDAS is on the right path now.

In fact, this weekend I was quoted in a separate newspaper story on Tangled about how Disney has managed to appeal to both boys and girls in previous princess films. It really comes down to story.

11 thoughts on “Don’t bury Fairy Tales at Disney just yet”

  1. Well, first off what the reporter quoted Ed Catmull on was not the whole thing and taken out of context.

    Just a tad of an overreaction.

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  3. A “fairy tale” movie is not the same thing as a “princess” movie. The whole idea of a “Princess Movie” did not exist until they created the “Disney Princess” tag.

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  5. Thank goodness. It seemed totally counterintuitive that disney would shed what they are known for. I found the money argument pretty flimsy…disney princecss merchandise makes up a sizeable portion of disney’s merchandise revenue.

  6. While it seems clear that Catmulls remarks were taken out of context, I still wonder how he could make them a few days before the opening of the most expenive Fairy tale movie Disney has ever done. Any normal Disney employee would probably have been fired on the spot for a remark like “Films and genres do run a course” days before Tangled´s opening.
    By the way: Walt´s first Princess movie premiered in 1937, the second one in 1950, the third one in 1959, as you will remember. So the fact that there aren´t half a dozen fairy tales or princess-themed movies lined up does mean very little….

  7. crap article taking a crap quote out of context and spinning their opinion into fact.

    at the same time, john and ed are gonna slowly prove a poor fit at Disney. i’d like to see catmull overhead both studios with john lasseter overseeing pixar and don hahn overseeing disney.

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