Saturday, June 23, 2007

disney to stop defiling its classic films with crappy sequels

In a major strategy shift, the Walt Disney Co. said it will stop making lucrative direct-to-DVD sequels of such classic animated films as "Cinderella," a move that reflects the growing influence of former Pixar Animation executives John Lasseter and Steve Jobs, who once called the films "embarrassing."

embarrassing is right. in perhaps the most powerful symbol of the decay of the walt disney company since walt's death, in the past decade or so, the studio has been pumping out cheap, straight-to-dvd crap like cinderella II (and III), bambi II, and lady and the tramp II. i'm all for breathing new life into old creative works, but these sequels were the basest form of cashing in on old properties. the original disney animated features of the '40s and '50s were true classics, and remain among the best animated films to come out of this country. the reason for this is the obvious care and attention that was lavished on every aspect of these films. for them to be followed up decades later by cheap straight-to-video sequels was the ultimate insult.

in contrast, pixar has consistently been putting out high-quality new films based on new, original characters (well, other than toy story II and the upcoming III) for years. i still believe that the incredibles is on par with some of the best superhero movies ever made, and pixar's latest feature, cars, is still pulling in major merchandising dollars a year after its release.

The change comes with a shake-up at the company's DisneyToon Studios, including the removal of longtime president Sharon Morrill, who will continue with the company in another capacity, Disney said Friday.

DisneyToon Studios will become part of Walt Disney Feature Animation and report directly to Animation President Ed Catmull and Lasseter, who assumed roles there after Disney bought Pixar Animation Studio last year for $7.4 billion in stock.

That deal made Jobs, the former Pixar CEO who also runs Apple Inc., into Disney's largest shareholder and got him a spot on Disney's board.

DisneyToon will now only produce original DVD films, including the upcoming film starring the fairy Tinkerbell. "Little Mermaid III," currently in production, will be the last DVD sequel released.

maybe those pixar guys can start to turn disney around.

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