Ain't It Cool News (
Animation and Anime

Glen Keane leaving Disney's RAPUNZEL. Who's stepping up?

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. We just got a tipoff from someone in the know at Disney that Glen Keane is stepping down as director of the upcoming Disney animation film RAPUNZEL. Keane is most known as a great animator having worked on Disney's animated films starting with THE RESCUERS. He's had his hand in everything from PETE'S DRAGON (one of my favorites), THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, POCAHONTAS and TARZAN (the latter two he also helped write). Unfortunately, he's had some health problems, according to this source and a memo distributed in-house (copied below). I hope the memo is correct and that Keane's problems are non-life threatening. Looks like BOLT director Byron Howard and BOLT's storyboard director Nathan Greno will team up to take Kean and Dean Wellins' responsibilities directing RAPUNZEL. I've copied the in-house memo below, but what isn't in the memo, coming from a source wishing to be kept anonymous, is that Keane and Wellins' version of RAPUNZEL just wasn't working. If that's the case, then this isn't the first time Byron Howard came in to take the reins on an out of control project at Disney. All accounts I have heard about Chris Sanders' early work on BOLT lead me to believe that he didn't have a film and there was a reason Lasseter had to step in. The overall feeling I get at Disney right now is that they don't want to make stuff that only half-works and aren't afraid of shaking up the creative teams in order to save the project. No matter what ends up being the reality, we do know that Keane will be still have Producer input as well as a hand in the animation. Hopefully we'll get official word from Disney commenting on the story soon, but here's what we have right now.

For nearly two years, Glen Keane and Dean Wellins have been directing partners on Rapunzel. As Glen lessens his directorial responsibilities to attend to some non-life threatening health issues, their involvement on the project will shift. Glen will step back as a Director but stay attached to Rapunzel as an Executive Producer and Directing Animator. At the same time, Dean will move into development to pitch three new ideas for one of our future feature projects and focus on directing one of his CG shorts. We are happy to announce that Nathan Greno and Byron Howard have accepted to partner as directors on Rapunzel as we continue to hone the story in anticipation of our Holiday 2010 release. We want to welcome Nathan and Byron to the project and thank Glen and Dean for their great contributions to date on Rapunzel. Thanks Ed
Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:19 p.m. CST

    I dunno but I do know that

    by The Amazing G

    I am...well you know

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:24 p.m. CST

    Terrible news

    by Andyrooskie

    This is horrible news. Glen Keane is a genius- I'm glad he's staying on as directing animator, and this wasn't another Chris Sanders "let's kick him off the project and change everything when he's gone" AMERICAN DOG kind of fiasco. Still, this sucks.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Sheesh, just let Brad Bird direct it.

    by DerLanghaarige

    Yes, Rataouille was a huge mess, but it was a damn great mess.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Let's hope they keep true to his vision

    by Evil Hobbit

    The early stills looked amazing. A very unique and handsome style.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Is this a hand-drawn 2D movie? If not, I don't care.

    by performingmonkey

    If this is a CG movie you can guarantee all the people working on it will be saying 'we've gotta make it like Shrek!' and if Keane wasn't doing that he was forced to step down as director. I hope Rapunzel is voiced by an unknown so it's more about the character and not the star. Disney movies work well when it's an unknown voice surrounded by well-known voices. Less 'celebrities' the better.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:33 p.m. CST

    sad news hope he gets bettter

    by ReEkOs_RoUgHnEcKs

    too drunk to read the article at least its not cause of disney being evil or whatever.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:33 p.m. CST

    Off topic but what is Harry's gif from?

    by terry1978

    I know the movie I think, but I can't recall the name. Back on topic, Keane needed to be on here, if a guy that just does CG flicks does it, it won't have that classic Disney vibe.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:34 p.m. CST

    So, does this mean that the interesting animation style

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    we've seen thus far will be overhauled into something totally boring and middle of the road?

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:37 p.m. CST

    St. Goddards = Prince of Darkness

    by acamp

    Extremely weird. I'd never seen it before but just watched the first half last night - finishing tonight.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:38 p.m. CST

    Shit, I hope the animation style stays the same...

    by Gungan Slayer

    I don't like this news, but at least he's still being kept on the project. I was really looking forward to this film, the early stills and concept art looked badass. I hope they don't fuck this up, and I hope to God this doesn't turn it some sort of shitty Shrek ripoff.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 6:43 p.m. CST

    If anyone decided that it wasn't "working"

    by Frijole was John Lasseter. And I will trust his instincts as to what DOES work over just about anyone in animation today. This will NOT be anything like Shrek.

  • What the hell are you talking about. It's not even a "damn great mess", it's just great full stop.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 7:45 p.m. CST

    Glen Keane is a Hand-Drawn Animation GENIUS

    by Goldfingah

    Watching those old cartoons over and over again on DVD, the Disney Channel and youtube kind of makes me long for a hand-drawn renaissance of sorts, but I'm at least glad people like Glen and James Baxter (the lead animator of Belle, who apparently set up his own studio that did a segment for Kung Fu Panda) still get work. Adapt or die, like they say. It's a genuine shame to read this because whether or not it's hand-drawn, I would have liked to see what Glen could come up with. I don't think I've seen anything of his since Tarzan.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 7:47 p.m. CST

    With "huge mess" I just mean...

    by DerLanghaarige

    ...that the script lacked a coherent story and jumped from subplot to subplot (Rat wants to eat like a gourmet, cook is the heir of a famous chef, evil critic learns to enjoy life again and so on), wasted several characters (they gave everybody in the kitchen a backstory, just to put them in the background for the rest of the movie) and it was easy to see that it had a troubled production. But it's without a doubt one of the few movies that are great, despite all flaws that could destroy every normal movie. And after everything that Bird has done before, we can be sure that it was him who saved Ratatouille from becomning a huge trainwreck. (Although of course we will never know what would have happened if he didn't take over the production.)

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 7:49 p.m. CST

    BTW, has anybody seen that Tinkerbell movie yet?

    by DerLanghaarige

    I thought John Lasseter shut down the production of it years ago, because he was disgusted by what he saw.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 8:27 p.m. CST

    Get well soon Glen

    by darthvedder81

    Glen Keane is one of those unsung heroes in the world of animation and filmmaking. I hope he's OK. My favorite work of his is hands down Long John Silver from "Treasure Planet." Underrated movie in my opinion.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 8:52 p.m. CST

    Glen also did

    by 4we8have15to16go23back42

    Captain Silver in Treasure Planet. Even though the movie wasn't great silver was a masterpiece.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 9 p.m. CST

    Just don't go back to the SHREK-style parody!!!

    by Drath

    We've had enough "clever" mockery of animated fairy tales now, it is time to get back to actual Disney fairy tales again. My only complaint is that Rapunzel herself looks kind of generic, like Ariel the mermaid dressed like Sleeping Beauty and in 3D. Aside from that though, this had better be a return to Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty style Disney. And if there's no wicked witch, just stop right now! Also, I hope that Glen Keane gets better!

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 9:17 p.m. CST

    Lots of assumptions with little data...

    by DreadPirateRoberts

    Right off some people assume they are trying to make another Shrek. Where do you get that. Some people don't like what happened to Bolt, but we don't have any idea what the original project was coming along like (some artwork aside). <P> As for Drath's wicked witch, she was not necessarily 'wicked' in the original story. Taking the girl was not nice, but she kept her and raised her because she was lonely. And she kept her in a tower to keep her from leaving her and telling her she was better off not seeing the rest of the world. Not cool, but not so bad as Malificent or some others.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 10:36 p.m. CST

    "they don't want to make stuff that only half-works?"

    by JimCurry

    So Beverly Hills Chihuahua was a home run?

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 10:37 p.m. CST

    Keane's Ariel & Pocahontas = HOTTEST CARTOON WOMEN EVER

    by Nasty In The Pasty

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 10:40 p.m. CST

    "So Beverly Hills Chihuahua was a home run?"

    by CerebralAssassin

    $29.3 million opening weekend is at least a stand-up triple.

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 10:45 p.m. CST

    Original story and characters, please!

    by DarthBakpao

  • Oct. 9, 2008, 11:37 p.m. CST

    limited engagement

    by LeviDTinker

    Tinkerbell had a 2 week exclusive theatrical run, at El Capitan in hollywood sept 19 until october 2nd

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 4:45 a.m. CST Harry's GIF Video

    by onezeroone

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 6:47 a.m. CST

    I assume by "...he didn't have a film..." you mean...

    by brokentusk

    He didn't have a film we haven't seen a million times before.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 7:48 a.m. CST

    Performing monkey, and Disney returning to 2d

    by half vader

    from what I've read it's a strange 2d/3d hybrid, different to deep paint and stuff like that. Sounds like sorta digital matte-painting to me (which is basically ordinary matte painting but done digitally on simplistic 3d shapes so perspective distortion works. Not really sure but I vaguely remember reading that Keane had something to do with the development of the technique or something and that it was very lush. <p> And why are people wondering about Disney doing 2d anymore? They've (Lasseter and Catmull) said they'll do it, and hasn't anyone seen pics of that Princess & the Frog movie set in New Orleans? It's 2d!

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 8:56 a.m. CST

    fairy tales

    by Dollar Bird

    I do hope this movie is a return to the old Disney fairy tale-type movie. Ever since "Home on the Range" and "Chicken Little" and all that other nonsense, they've abandoned those kinds of cartoons. Which I think is too bad, because its always nice to see a good re-telling of an old story. Disney's put several billboards up for "Sleeping Beauty" all over the city, and seeing the one with Malificent and her crow—she is a beautifully designed character, I think; love the horns—makes me want to see "Sleeping Beauty" again for the 1st time since I was 7 (or so). Also: welcome back, 2-D. [I'd also love to see that "Azur and Asmar".]

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 10:02 a.m. CST


    by RogueWarrior65

    Rapunzel? Bleah. Come on, Disney, give us something special. Enchanted was great fun. And even though Beauty and the Beast is an old story, the animation and the music totally made it great. And, sorry, but Ariel and Pocahontas, so NOT the hottest cartoon women. Belle was WAY hotter. *pounds head on desk* I need to get out more often.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 11:15 a.m. CST

    Oh and James Baxter did the 2d animation

    by half vader

    in Enchanted too.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 11:46 a.m. CST

    Is it just me.....

    by LHombreSiniestro

    ...or do the new Disney movies feel like total weak sauce? "Rapunzel"? Really? Why?!

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 2 p.m. CST

    They've done male main characters

    by BizarroJerry

    But those seem to all have been during not-so-great-quality years for Disney. Tarzan was probably the most successful, but they did The Black Cauldron during the crappy 1980s era. They did Hercules, but then they tried to do some action-adventure stuff: Atlantis, Treasure Planet. Those were some of their crappy recent flicks. So, they may be gun shy now.<p>They need to get some Pixar folks to write some 2D movies, now. I mean, if they can put out the Incredibles, they can come up with some action adventure boy-aimed flick.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 11:13 p.m. CST

    Belle *is* pretty hot in a bookish way...

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    We needed to see more of her legs, though.

  • Oct. 11, 2008, 3:42 p.m. CST

    DreadPirateRoberts, you need some schooling

    by Drath

    I'd say you're the one who is being impulsive. First, I'm not just seeing things, Rapunzel was originally going to be a Shrek-like parody. Do some research and you'll see if you don't remember back when it was called Rapunzel Unbraided and going to feature a couple of cynical modern day teenagers who get hexed into the fairy tale by a wicked witch. The only good thing about that was a return of a female villain--something Disney hasn't done a lot of in the last 20 years since Ursula (Yzma from the strictly comical Emperor's New Groove and possibly Glen Close as a live action Cruella DeVille being the only exceptions, neither of course even coming close to classic iconic female villains like the Wicked Queen or Maleficient). But I think I've VERY justified in making it clear where I stand, especially as Keane was part of the force that drove the project towards being a straight fairy tale again. Disney hasn't done one with a straight face in a while, even the Frog Prince is not getting a conventional treatment. Disagree with my preference here all you want, but don't pull this "the sky's not falling" bullshit when I wasn't saying it either.

  • Oct. 13, 2008, 2:19 a.m. CST


    by half vader

    The live-action/2d animated/3d animated Villain in Enchanted was female too - Susan Sarandon.