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Jim Hill on the official closing of Walt Disney Animation in Florida, Roy Disney's efforts & Legacy Animation Studios!

Hey folks, Harry here with the latest from our good friend, Jim Hill regarding the tragically depressing land of Walt Disney Feature Animation. He's got updates regarding Roy Disney and Stanley Gold's crusade to Save Disney, along with a much more revealing look at what is happening with this exciting group of Disney Animators that are determined to save Walt's legacy with LEGACY ANIMATION STUDIOS. Here ya go...

This is the day that Disney does it, Harry. Finally & officially pulls the plug on Feature Animation Florida. Shutting down a studio that has produced out not one, not two, but three hit films for the Disney Company – “Mulan,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Brother Bear” – all in a row. At 2/3rds of what it costs Mickey to make similar animated movies back in Burbank.

So today’s the day that the Mouse kicks 250 talented artists & technicians to the curb. Walk away from that virtually brand-new $70 million dollar state-of-the-art studio complex. All because Disney Feature Animation is supposedly regrouping in the not-so-distant future. Making one last desperate stand in Burbank. Replicating what WDFA had in the mid-to-late 1980s: Which was all of the company’s very best animators under one roof again, working together on a single film (Putting all of Mickey’s eggs in one basket, if you will). With the hope that – if this talented group can just pull together – Disney Feature Animation will once again be able to find its way back to greatness.

At least that’s what Disney’s PR staff is telling the entertainment & financial press. The sad fact of the matter is, Harry, that – due to all the WDFA staff cuts over the past five years as well as all the key people that Disney let slip away – there isn’t all that much of Disney Feature Animation left to save.

How bad has it gotten, Knowles? Well, let me tell you about a project that the Imagineers are prepping for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Harry. It’s an attraction called “Stitch’s Great Escape,” which is sort of a prequel to Disney’s 2002 release, “Lilo & Stitch.”

Anyway, this Tomorrowland-based show – which will be replacing “The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” – needed a few minutes of new traditionally animated footage featuring characters from “Lilo & Stitch.” You know, for the attraction’s pre-show as well as to supplement the action in the show’s main theater. So – a week or so ago -- WDI approached WDFA and asked them if they’d be interested in producing the animation portion of this project.

And the folks at Disney Feature Animation were reportedly forced to say: “Gee, I’m sorry. We’re going to have to take a pass on doing the animation for ‘Stitch’s Great Escape.’ “Not because they were too busy with some other project, Harry. But because the knuckleheads who are now in charge of Disney Feature Animation had fired all the people who actually knew how to do traditional animation. So apparently there was no one left in the building (at least out in Burbank) who could now replicate “Lilo & Stitch” ‘s distinctive hand-drawn style.

Which was why Walt Disney Imagineering was forced to look elsewhere to find people who could provide the necessary traditional-looking, hand-drawn animation footage for WDW’s “Stitch’s Great Escape” show. Luckily, a company called Renegade Animation (You can sample some of that studio’s handiwork by following this link, Knowles: RenegadeAnimation ) was up to the task. Even if WDFA wasn’t.

It’s really a shame that WDI didn’t talk with me when they were looking for people to work on the animated sequences for “Stitch’s Great Escape,” Harry. For I could have pointed them toward this great new animation studio. One that’s staffed by guys who actually worked on the original “Lilo & Stitch” movie: Legacy Animation Studio.

Yes, I know, Knowles. You already told AICN readers about Legacy back on Saturday, (Insert link to here). About how this studio was actually started up by a bunch of Feature Animation Florida staffers. Who are determined to keep the art of traditional animation alive (hence the name “Legacy”), while Disney seems determined to turn itself into some sort of Pixar clone.

But what you may not have heard, Harry, is that the team behind Legacy Animation are a pretty web-savvy bunch of guys. The studio’s website – Legacy Animation – just went live last week. And – in the weeks ahead – Eddie Pittman, directing manager of the studio & his team at Legacy are going to try & do something real extraordinary, Knowles. Which is give Internet-based animation fans a front row seat for the creation of the studio’s first project: a new traditionally animated short subject.

Here’s how the deal’s supposed to go down, Harry: Over the next week or so, Pittman & his team will be reviewing pitches for this proposed short. Once they’ve selected the characters & the core concept for the film, Legacy will then begin keeping a blog that covers the short’s entire production. So – for the first time (on the internet, anyway) – animation fans will be able to follow all of the phases of this labor-intensive process. See a short go from storyboards to rough animation to … Well, when Eddie takes the short out on the festival circuit and shows the world what Legacy Animation is really capable of doing.

You see, Eddie & his team of 15 artists (I know, I know. That sounds sort of small. But there are a dozen or more former WDFAF employees who are quite anxious to get on board at Legacy. They’re just waiting ‘til the Winter Garden-based studio officially begins to ramp up production before they pick up their pencils) eventually hope to make a full length traditionally animated feature. This short (which will be hammered together in an extremely intense 20-week-long production schedule) is supposed to serve as their calling card. A film done in the old Warner Brothers / Early Disney cartoon shorts tradition. To show potential investors the sorts of film Legacy Animation is capable of making.

Of course, the current buzz around Burbank is “Wouldn’t it be awfully embarrassing for Michael Eisner if – on the eve of Disney Feature Animation – Florida’s closing – Roy Disney announced that he was bankrolling Legacy Animation? To show Michael that even if he was willing to abandon Walt’s legacy, Roy was not.”

Well, to my knowledge, Roy Disney has no plans (at present) to get in bed with the folks over at Legacy Animation Studio. Not that Roy Disney & Stanley Gold would be interested in what Eddie Pittman & Co. are trying to do, mind you. But – as of this moment – Roy & Stanley have bigger fish. They’re still hot on Michael’s heels, still determined to do everything that they have to in order for their “Oust Eisner” campaign to succeed.

Speaking of which: A bold new version of Stanley & Roy’s website – SaveDisney.Com – is scheduled to debut late today or early tomorrow. So keep an eye open for that.

And Walt’s nephew will also be stepping up his public appearance schedule over the next few weeks. For example – this coming weekend – Roy will be meeting with the Disney faithful at the N.F.F.C.’s “January Kick-Off” event in Garden Grove, CA. So if you’ve got a question that you’d like Roy to answer and/or you’d just like to show your support for what Roy & Stanley are trying to do, make your way to the Crown Plaza Resort this coming Saturday afternoon. (For further information of the N.F.F.C. event, follow this link: Click Here .)

“So what’s Mr. Eisner got to say about all this?,” you ask, Harry. “The closure of Feature Animation Florida? The opening of Legacy Animation Studio? Roy & Stanley’s on-going efforts to oust him?” To be honest, Knowles, Eisner hasn’t said a word about any of these subject. In public, anyway.

Last week, at his appearance at the Smith Barney media conference in Phoenix, Michael painted a particularly rosy picture of Disney’s financial future for all the investment analysts in attendance. He stressed how things were going just great at the Walt Disney Company. How there had been record crowds at all of Disney’s Florida theme parks over the holidays.

Of course, the crowds who walked through the “Magic of Disney Animation” exhibit at Disney-MGM must have wondered what was up. Looking out on row after row of empty animation desks, wondering where all the artists were.

Of course, given that the last project that Disney Feature Animation Florida was supposed have worked on was to be called “A Few Good Ghosts,” it’s rather ironic that this studio is now a ghost town. (HARRY NOTE: I'll have you know that the Disney Feature Animation's Magic of Disney Animation exhibit looks nothing like GHOST TOWN) With so many of its talented staffers leaving Orlando to work for other animation studios: CORE Digital in Canada, Blue Sky in New York, Pixar & Dreamworks in California. And – of course – the crew over at Legacy Animation in Winter Garden, FL.

It’s such a waste, Harry, that this talented team had to be broken up. The people who brought us those brilliant shorts like “Roller Coaster Rabbit,” “Trail Mix-Up,” “Off His Rocker” & “Oilspot & Lipstick.” Who contributed outstanding sequences to such beloved Disney classics as “Kill the Beast” in 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” in 1994’s “The Lion King.” As well as that studio’s previously mentioned trio of blockbusters: “Mulan,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Brother Bear.”

Yeah, Disney doesn’t need a bunch of no-talents like this, Knowles. Why hang on to people who produced all of the animated films that I just mentioned? It’s not like the Walt Disney Company has this long tradition of turning out well-crafted traditionally animated films … Oh, wait a minute. It does, doesn’t it, Harry?

I now ask that the entire AICN family join me in a brief moment of silence for the passing of a proud 67-year-old tradition. The death of the traditionally animated feature film. At least at the Walt Disney Company.

Ah, this is just too depressing for me to even think about, Knowles. I promise that I’ll be back in a week or so with more news about Roy & Stanley’s efforts to oust Eisner. But – for now – I gotta go make some phone calls. I gotta go commiserate with some friends in Orlando about how the Walt Disney Company just made another totally bone-headed decision.

Talk with you soon, Harry. Please give my best to your Dad.

jrh

Meanwhile, LEGACY ANIMATION STUDIOS sent me the following Press Release soon after the story I ran went up, and I figured, it would be quite apt to tack it on here with Jim Hill's wonderful column! Here ya go...

Continuing Walt's Legacy

ORLANDO, FLORIDA (January 8, 2004) - Legacy Animation Studios, a new animation production studio in Orlando Florida, opens its doors in Winter Garden, Florida close to Orlando later this month. The studio will offer a full-range of traditional hand drawn (or 2D) animation services for film, television and commercials. Legacy was established by a group of animators and artists formerly employed by Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida. Legacy will also be dedicated to developing original properties for television and film. In time the studio hopes to produce its first feature film project.

"We believe that traditionally animated films are still a viable form of entertainment," says Legacy Animation Studios Directing Manager, Eddie Pittman. "Our goal is to create quality animated films with compelling stories and strong characters and to continue Walt Disney's legacy of hand drawn animation."

The Legacy team has the talent to back up their claim, with the combined experience of over 25 animated films including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan and Lilo and Stitch. Directing Manager, Eddie Pittman is a cartoonist and illustrator with over fifteen years of professional experience. He has worked on such animated features as Mulan, Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, The Emperor's New Groove and Lilo and Stitch. Eddie has taught for the renowned Computer Animation program at Ringling School of Art and Design and his popular drawing classes taught around Central Florida have been recommended to aspiring animators by Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, Artist Development. Recently, Eddie produced and directed Legends of the Night Sky: Orion, the world's first full dome (360°) traditionally animated movie.

Also joining the management team as Creative Director is veteran assistant animator David Nethery. David has nearly 20 years of experience as an animation artist, most of those years at Walt Disney Feature Animation. He has been the Lead Key Assistant on such characters as "Meeko" the raccoon from Pocahontas, "Mushu" from Mulan, "Cobra Bubbles" from Lilo & Stitch, and most recently "Tug" and "Koda's Mom" from Brother Bear. Other credits at Disney include The Lion King, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Legacy currently has three projects in development including a short film that will begin production in late January 2004 .

CLICK HERE TO DISCOVER MORE!

Meanwhile, to off-set the big gobs of bad news, Disney is announcing a computer animated feature film version of A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON based upon William Joyce's book of the same name. According to HollywoodReporter, Disney is planning to start animation in June for release in 2006. I've seen the book described as a bit of a cross between The Jetsons and the Addams Family. Although the book doesn't seem to have much of a plot. Hmmm, sounds just right for Disney.

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 12, 2004, 12:32 a.m. CST

    first

    by halcyonseven

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 12:33 a.m. CST

    Truly this is a sad day...

    by halcyonseven

    I really do not know what to say. I have always known we cared more about money than creativity...but sometimes it slaps you in the face...

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 12:34 a.m. CST

    However...

    by halcyonseven

    The news about Legacy studios is very exciting! Time for Disney to die. Die hard.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 12:49 a.m. CST

    Fourth!

    by Harry The Hutt

    Disney now is just a place more worried about making money than caring about making films.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:07 a.m. CST

    Someone please shoot Michael Eisner

    by Stormin

    There's nothing else for it; I mean think about how easy it would be to cap the bastard at his house and make it look like a burglary gone wrong. Someone with a gun, please, your time has come! I mean, if I've learned anything from Disney animated films it's that violence is wrong except when the story's almost over, and this one is definately at a turning point.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:13 a.m. CST

    Walt's Comments

    by KrisTM

    I watched Fantasia (1940) on DVD this weekend, and then listened to the commentary track that was made out of old interviews, meetings, and speeches given by Walt Disney himself. I was impressed with his attitudes toward his employees, especially the artists, and the art of animation. Disney said that he allowed his artists the freedom to do whatever they wanted within a certain framework. Compare this to Eisner's hands-on nit picking creativity-stifling management style. Walt said that he felt it was better to lose money on a good project [like Fantasia] than make money on a bad one ("I would rather toss it in the ash can"). Again, compare this to Eisner and all of his "ash can" worthy direct-to-DVD sequels. It's really interesting and sad to hear such contrasting attitudes towards the management of the same company.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:14 a.m. CST

    I think that everyone who does a Hulk Hogan post should be provi

    by St.Buggering

    Go back to a time when that was still funny, brother.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:19 a.m. CST

    Michael Eisner is, for all intents and purposes, done.

    by IndustryKiller

    Even if he doesn't get fired he's a hack and it's out in the open. People know how terrible he is and how badly he is ruining the Disney name. The Eisner name has been sullied and rightfully so. You can bet that people are going to be watching his every move from here on out so he's either going to have to resign, get better, or risk being pushed out. What's it gonna be Eisner you fucking loser?

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:22 a.m. CST

    Disney is now officially shit

    by Jon E Cin

    No other comments needed.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:32 a.m. CST

    1001 harrys

    by earl of sandwich

    Does have Harry have ADD or something? Why did this guy have to name-check Harry at the end of every sentence? Is the fat boy that sleepy?

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:32 a.m. CST

    This is just a theory but...

    by RenegadeBushido

    I wonder if this fall of Disney will cause a power vacuum in the 2D animation industry, thus providing a significant foothold in America for the developed Japanses anime companies to take advantage of. I'm not trying to sound all Rising Sun here but I forsee that happening in 2D animation in the near future. I can't wait to see what happens, I really like J-culture in general.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:32 a.m. CST

    Wilbur Robinson

    by tbrosz

    If you haven't seen it, I suggest you take a look at both William Joyce's work in general and that book specifically before you dismiss it so handily.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 2:05 a.m. CST

    I hate how this guy kept using Harry's name in the letter over a

    by Reedster9898

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 2:09 a.m. CST

    Okay three things to say....

    by Manaqua

    First I hope Legacy kicks all manner of ass on disney and the whole of 2D animation. Great name also. Second, OK that first guy said harry's name like waaaay too much. kinda wierd. And third, anybody who makes Hulk Hogan jokes anymore in Talkback is such a fucking fuckwit dunce. I mean really. Put it to bed already. M

  • Warner Bros. must die. You know this to be true.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 3:39 a.m. CST

    "Nows your last chance to buy 101 Dalmations 2 and Lady and the

    by Archduke_Chocula

    Fuck Eisner, that fucktard has just raped the hell out of the Disney name, I'm pretty sure old Walt has combusted from all the grave spinning, either that or his spinning has opened up a hole in the time space continuum and he'll be transported back and his grave willl fall on Eisner as he's taking a dump or eating ice cream or some really stupid activity.

  • This is kinda weird. I don't care for style of this guy's articles either. His whole style - including the constant name checking - just reeks of a biased manipulative attempt at persuasion. I don't care for it at all. But the damn thing is I'm utterly on board with what he's selling. I just wish he realized he doesn't need to pull out the violins, faux familiarity (Knowles old buddy old pal!) and work so hard to convince folks. The facts are strong enough to persuade folks on their own. Anyway, I can see where Roy Disney and Legacy have different agendas and I wouldn't really expect him to jump on board with them. But ya know what? He doesn't have to. What Roy could do (which would kick ass) would be simply to visit Legacy Studios. Roy goes by looks around with the press, makes nice. He doesn't have to give them his money. He just has to show up wish them well and offer them good luck and his blessing in their own pursuit of his uncle's dream. It would be a historic moment that would likely get huuuge press. Artists pursuing Walt's legacy blessed by his nephew in what theya re doing when all of them are basically in exile from Walt's Magic Kingdom? That would be classic!

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 3:58 a.m. CST

    The sequel...

    by DocPazuzu

    ...should star Hulk Hogan as Manaqua. "Anybody who makes Hulk Hogan jokes anymore in Talkback is such a fucking fuckwit dunce, brother."

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 4:30 a.m. CST

    Harry...

    by THE WALLACE

    Well Harry, I gotta tell ya, as someone who is on the 2d animation world, it is good Knowles to see peeps like legacy trying to keep it alive. You see Harry, I always told people who preached the downfall of 2d that there would always be those out there who will love the art form for as it is. Harry... Knowles...can I call you Harry? okay Harry... anyways... Harry, I really don't have much to say on the topic... you know how it is Knowles, I just got sucked into reading an article and was thoroughly annoyed by the way your name was mentioned every line. yes Harry, I am that bored. *knowles* - GEORGE THE 7th CHICKEN! (god I hate that too)

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Here's who we need to do

    by mbaker

    Kill all the boneheaded executives who micro-managed this company into the ground! Force them to buy more animation desks at gunpoint! Burn the negatives of all their recent crappy movies like "Treasure Planet", "Freaky Friday", "Max Keebler", "The Country Bears", and "The Lizzie McGuire Movie"! Burn the negatives to all those crappy Di$ney Channel shows off the face of the earth, reinstate all the edited footage taken out of the shorts, movies, and tv shows! Eliminate their stupid "forced trailer" ploicy on their DVDs, Put Hilary Duff, Raven Symone, Shai LeBeauf, Jake Thomas, and Christy Romano infront of a firing squad, and most importantly, KILL EISNER!!

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 8:39 a.m. CST

    Here's what we need to do..

    by mbaker

    Kill all the boneheaded executives who micro-managed this company into the ground! Force them to buy more animation desks at gunpoint! Burn the negatives of all their recent crappy movies like "Treasure Planet", "Freaky Friday", "Max Keebler", "The Country Bears", and "The Lizzie McGuire Movie"! Burn the negatives to all those crappy Di$ney Channel shows off the face of the earth, reinstate all the edited footage taken out of the shorts, movies, and tv shows! Eliminate their stupid "forced trailer" ploicy on their DVDs, Put Hilary Duff, Raven Symone, Shai LeBeauf, Jake Thomas, and Christy Romano infront of a firing squad, and most importantly, KILL EISNER!!

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 8:48 a.m. CST

    Since money is the only thing these executeers understand

    by TimBenzedrine

    I call on everyone here to encourage your friends and family to participate in a worldwide boycott of all things Disney until Ei$ner is removed from power and stripped of his 'golden parachute'.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 9:36 a.m. CST

    Everyone's ignoring the REAL news in this article...

    by rev_skarekroe

    ...which is that they're closing the Extraterrorestrial Alien Encounter. I mean, c'mon, the attraction's not that old! sk

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 9:58 a.m. CST

    Beggin' your pardon rev, but the reason why it's not big news

    by TimBenzedrine

    is that the extraTERRORestrial attraction was never that good in the first place. Now, the submarine ride and the skyway buckets, I really miss those.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 10:26 a.m. CST

    You're crazy TimBenzedrine! That ride was awesome ...

    by Glen Quagmire

    It's this same thinking that got Mr. Toad's Wild Ride shut down!! Whenever some cutesy flash-in-the-pan movie comes out that kids mildly enjoy ~ they milk it for all it's worth and get rid of time-tested cool rides that WAY more people enjoy. I'm not sayin' that the ExtraTERRORestrial ride was time-tested and universally enjoyed ... however, it was a larf to hear the terror filled screams of young kids foolish enough to venture onto the ride! "OMIGOD! The Monster is LOOSE! HELLLLP!" hehehehe ... classic.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Well, technically, Glen, it isn't really a ride is it?

    by TimBenzedrine

    Since you and the audience are seated throughout, and I've always thought it was a bit of a cheat to have all the scary stuff happen in total darkness. But if you had a good time, I won't argue. As for myself, it was one of the few attractions I've only been on ONCE.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 11:20 a.m. CST

    I'm so depressed right now.

    by Boxclocke

    This makes me ill. Like, really. Ill.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 11:21 a.m. CST

    Glen isn't the only one

    by Drath

    I thought the Extra TERRORestrial was great as well. But, I think everything in the Magic Kingdom should have something for everyone, and that didn't have many laughs for the kids. Granted, I don't get anything out of the Teacup Ride, the Grand Prix, or the Carousel of Progress except nostalgia, but I can see why frightened children kept that attraction from being a draw. The Stitch stuff sounds like a clever alteration (even if they had to hilariously outsource the animation part of the ride for firing the Florida animators). The Imagineers will have a tougher time fixing the parks when it comes out that black lights cause cancer. Or is that out already? *************** Yeah, I really hope that the ex-Mouse House animators can deliver on a traditional animation house as an alternative to the big studios and not go the way of Don Bluth. If one guy can do a short movie that looks as good "Voices from a Distant Star," then a studio of Suit-free, dedicated artists should be able to make a good animated movie on the cheap. They'll have only themselves to blame if they screw it up like Bluth did. I doubt very much the prestige of Disney will go up though simply by switching style. CG has many possibilities, but it was not the style of animation that was hurting WDFA's releases.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 11:23 a.m. CST

    Tradition/Failure

    by BigSugar

    I'm sorry, but the list of traditionally animated "blockbusters" theat Hill has listed here are nowhere near the level of what Disney could be doing. What is it that prevented Toy Story or Monsters Inc. from being traditionally animated? Those films have the story and structure that is classicaly Disney to me. I'm not championing Pixar, I'm saying what with the writing and directing teams at the traditional animation studios? Frankly, I think this is the best thing that could happen to Disney right now. I seem to remember a time in the seventies and eighties when the animation film took a backseat to the live action film. After a long hiatus, Disney slapped the world with Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Lion King back to back. Eisner's an asshole, no doubt, but this is not the end of Disney animation. It's just a downbeat.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 11:33 a.m. CST

    True enough, Tim ... it's not really a "ride"

    by Glen Quagmire

    Yeah ... it's more of an "attraction" ... like that Honey I Shrunk the Audience. But anyways ... it's sort of SCARIER since it's in total darkness ... with only glimpses of things. It let's your imagination fill in the blanks (using what your other senses pick up - the breath on your neck, the monster growls, the alien blood hitting ya) ... and since you're strapped in with nowhere to go - it's just an all around neat thing. I doubt this Lilo & Stitch ride will be anywhere near as good.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 11:40 a.m. CST

    I can agree with all this except...

    by Joey Jojo

    Brother Bear was a blockbuster? Did I miss something? Maybe I didnt follow the box office receipts as close as I should have but I really don't remember anyone giving a crap about Brother Bear.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Disney world

    by FloydGandoli

    Islands of Adventure kicks Disney world right in the ass.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 12:19 p.m. CST

    My man, Knowles

    by Evil Chicken

    Jinxo is right on the money. Roy Disney giving his blessing to Legacy Studios would be a classy move.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 12:27 p.m. CST

    True, Brother Bear hasn't exactly been burning up the charts

    by TimBenzedrine

    But its lackluster performance can hardly be blamed on the work of the animators, background artists, and layout and design people, who overall crafted a beautiful looking film. The film was hindered by its storyline, but the people responcible for that weren't let go. I also suspect there was an attempt to cripple this film right out of the gate by releasing it on a Saturday instead of a Friday (which was Halloween here in the states) thus ensuring a low opening weekend. If they were worried about the 'holiday weekend' they could have released it on a Wednesday or a Thursday couldn't they? No, I think they wanted it to do poorly, the same way they yanked Treasure Planet from the theatres early even though most of the reviews were positive. What this looks like to me is that this has been one long chain of events meant to undermine the viability of 2-D animation in order to shut down WDFA and send all subsequent 2-D films to animation studios overseas. Is it only a coincidence that the new head of Feature Animation was the same guy that oversaw the production of the cheapquels? I'm just sayin', it all seems fishy to me.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Might want to check this site...

    by DrawerGuy

    www.bobblefoghin.com My friend in animation sent this to me as another studio started by ex-Disney guys. 3-QUEST Studios. Could be cool. I say support these kinds of things and get back at the "suit-powered" big boys.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 2:21 p.m. CST

    TimBenzedrine

    by mbaker

    You may be on to something, TimBenzedrine. Also, have you noticed all the live action crap has been taking center stage while al the animated releases have been taking a back seat? It's as if Di$ney wants to kill it's animation history on purpose, and just become another Hollywood studio. What is it with Di$ney, and their fetish for cheap labor? Are they in bed with the unions? These idiots need to realize that if you price labor higher than what it's worth, it's priced out of the market completely. So do they leave the pricing of animation labor alone? Hell no! They take the easy way out, and employ cheap labor! There ain't no free lunch, Ei$ner!!!

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Treasure Planet is a master work

    by pvecu

    Indeed, Treasure Planet is a master work, compared to which Finding Nemo is a poor pale ghost. It is not really Eisner

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 4:05 p.m. CST

    Um...They closed Mr. Toad's Wild Ride?

    by FluffyUnbound

    These mofos MUST PAY. No sense having kids now. Oh well.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 4:25 p.m. CST

    The Magic of Disney Animation

    by mmxstryker

    That attraction at MGM has been "closed for re-imagineering" since October. No empty desks because you cant even get into it. I remember when I went in there the first time and saw some of the original work for Lilo and Stitch before it came out, wow...

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 4:27 p.m. CST

    See you at Di$ney World....BRING MONEY!

    by mbaker

    Sorry, just had to rub in that "Family Guy" reference. About "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride", they turned it into a stupid "Winnie The Pooh" ride. I wish Di$ney would stop milking Pooh for all he's worth while neglecting their other characters! It's bad enough that the Milne family has dragged Di$ney into a lawsuit over money that's owed to them!

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 5:30 p.m. CST

    Remember-

    by RenoNevada2000

    All women want Mr Toad's Wild Ride.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 6:32 p.m. CST

    I love 2D, but it is dead in America. Blame the groundlings

    by Funmazer

    I have always loved the clean look of 2D animated movies and have bought many a DVD of them. That said, I think they are unfortunately doomed to direct-to-video junk (aka: what Disney mostly puts out these days) Disney films, while getting more expensive, have also seemingly gotten cheaper. Compare the high amount of mattes and rim lights in movies like "Lion King" or "Hunchback" to "Lilo & Stitch". Disney movies since "Tarzan" have just looked cheap. Sure, I'm talking about a "method" or "technology", but let's face it, those older modern Disney movies looked much richer - more like a movie and less like a Saturday morning cartoon. Next rant; I've seen about six trillion people re: 2D vs 3D say: "Method doesn't matter, just story". Gimme a fricking break. It's marketing and, sadly, being 3D. Iron Giant is easily one of the best 2D movies ever and it bombed. "Ice Age" was about as formulatic as a movie can get, and it did more than any Disney 2D'er since Lion King. But I bet if it had been 2D, it would have bombed. Why? It's my firm belief that it is no longer seen as "cool" for people, even parents, to take their kids to a 2D animated movie in the theatre. ("Brother Bear" is called successful but at $83 mil US BO the only recent (last 13 years) 'big' Disney movie it has beat is "Treasure Planet" Wow.) It's perfectly fine to buy it on DVD, though. Disney obviously sees this, and therefore releases ass-loads of direct-to-video junk and starts aiming their feature animation towards direct-to-video as well. I'm no expert, but doesn't it cost at least a thousand dollars to make a film print of a movie? Times 3000 screens and you're 3 mil+ in the hole already. Disney is just trying to cut costs, I guess. I read on some animation site that at one point, Walt Disney (himself) was scraping for money to make Disneyland back in the day and one of his dudes said "shut down Feature Animation and you'll have all the money you'll need" and Disney said "NO". Well, it has now come to pass. A "Simpsons" movie would do biz, but other than that, it's over. But I'd love to be proven wrong. You'll probably all flame me now but remember I am ripping on the groundlings, the people who discriminate against 2D in theatres. Not 2D or 3D itself.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 7:53 p.m. CST

    The Beginning of the End was...

    by TikiMaster

    When Eisner, seeing big profits from Mermaid, B&B, Aladdin, and LK, announced that Disney Feature Animation would release a feature every year. Regardless what you think of the films since then, that's when the quality started to slide. By contrast, in the 30s when Walt was making Pinnochio, he shelved it for three years while they perfected the design of the lead character. And for those of you who stated that Disney seemed to sabotaging Feature Animation, that is almost literally true. When it became clear that the much cheaper films from TV Animation (read: overseas) like The Tigger Movie could actually do comprable numbers to the big expensive features, the end was in sight. Peter Pan 2 vs. Lilo & Stitch was the story watched by management. As good as L&S was, the public had been sufficiently softened up by Disney's declining storytelling and L&S didn't make enough to save Feature Animation. The Saturday premiere of Brother Bear insured that they didn't accidentally get a big hit which would force them to save an expensive department.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 9:52 p.m. CST

    Damn Shame

    by moviepoopy

    It's fucked up how dem artists and shit got fired bro. I;d bust a cap in Eisner's ass, but my baby daddy took my gun. :*(

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 9:59 p.m. CST

    Disney Won't Die, But...

    by filker-tom

    ... at some point, someone besides Eisner and his lackeys will have to come in to Save The Day. It can be done -- it was done in the late 80s, and it basically came down to hiring Ashman & Menken, because there was very little left to lose. All they really need is someone who has the vision to remember that the important thing is good storytelling. 2D animation, like 3D, or painting, or the printed word, or mime, or puppetry, or ASCII animation, is just a medium for storytelling. You get good stories -- which I think we all agree Disney had, and not all that long ago -- and actually TELL PEOPLE about 'em (whic, for instance, they didn't do with the brilliant THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE), and they will come. No more generic sequels to fifty-year-old films, though. That's just embarrassing. Disney has shown, with Hunchback, Tarzan, and of course the Big Three (Mermaid, Beast, Aladdin) that they can easily tell more sophisticated stories. But I think they're so frightened about Protecting The Disney Image that they're stagnating themselves into extinction. So, the next Disney Renaissance will not occur until Eisner is gone.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 10:07 p.m. CST

    Reminds me of Filmation and Lou Scheimer keeping all of the anim

    by Declan_Swartz

    His current comapny, Lou Scheimer Productions is too small now and uses a South Korea studio for its animation. www.louscheimerproductions.com www.filmationarchives.com

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 10:18 p.m. CST

    One more thing about Filmation...

    by Declan_Swartz

    Before anyone puts down their recycled animation technique, realize that were dealing with televison budgets and union American animators, so they had to cut the costs to keep their animation jobs in America.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 10:18 p.m. CST

    One more thing about Filmation...

    by Declan_Swartz

    Before anyone puts down their recycled animation technique, realize that were dealing with televison budgets and union American animators, so they had to cut the costs to keep their animation jobs in America.

  • Jan. 12, 2004, 11:09 p.m. CST

    Somebody Cure Cancer Quick...

    by MrStinger

    ...so they can thaw out Walt and he can come back to save the studio. Short of that happening, they're one failed contract negotiation (Pixar) short of oblivion.

  • Jan. 13, 2004, 10:41 a.m. CST

    sigh

    by Kingmidget

    The closing of the animation studio in Florida is real sad news to me. When I first visited MGM I could've spent all day in that building watching the animators. I love animation and the coolest thing in the world was getting to watch actual animators work. What is even more depressing is the prospect that traditional Disney animation is going to go the way of the dodo. I hope Legacy is sucessful because I don't want to see this form die out.

  • Jan. 13, 2004, 5:52 p.m. CST

    aliencaptive1013

    by mbaker

    I totally agree! That Mickey special was awful! The badly dubbed footage from Disney films was so god awful, they make an episode of "Space Ghost: Coast To Coast" look like "Fantasia"! (Proving that It's easer to dub schlockey Hanna-Barbera animation than it is to dub full length Disney animation.) None of the stars in that program gave a crap about Mickey. And the CGI footage of "Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas" is further proof that some characters were not meant to be in rendered in3D! (Except maybe for Playstation 2) Anybody remember that other Mickey special from 1988 with Roger Rabbit? That was actually more fun than this recent abomination. It featured John Ritter (God rest his soul) as a news reporter with toung firmly in cheak.

  • Jan. 17, 2004, 10:41 a.m. CST

    So SAD!!!

    by TodayzSpecial

    I can't believe they shut down a studio after they released a pretty successful picture?! What are they thinking?