I found this article to be interesting. It states:

Once upon a time, there was a studio in Burbank that spun classic fairy tales into silver-screen gold.

But now 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.

Actually, I think most of the “princess-ness” of Disney came about in the 90’s with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas, all released in less than a decade, and all following a similar Broadway-influenced romantic comedy formula. I’m sure Walt Disney himself never meant for his company to be defined by fairy tales or princesses. They did Snow White in 1937, then didn’t do Cinderella until 1950, and didn’t do Sleeping Beauty until 1959. That’s only three princess-oriented fairy tales done in old Uncle Walt’s lifetime.

The article mentions that their Princess and the Frog didn’t do as well as they’d like. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but looking at the previews, it certainly didn’t look that great. It was tauted as introducing Disney’s first black princess just as the nation was getting its first black president. A film decision like that should never be made for political brownie points. And they were, dare I say, racist, playing to stereotypes and setting the film in New Orleans and making the music score jazzy. The film shouldn’t have been set in America at all. Unless the intent was to make the movie about racism (which I doubt, and there are already plenty of movies about that), the movie should’ve treated the princess just like any other princess.

Anyway, I digress. My point is, I don’t think this news is really all that breath-taking. It’s natural. It’s obvious.

I think it’s kind of silly to guess at what the public wants, because I don’t think you really can know, beyond certain genre generalizations. Like “vampires are popular now” or “wizards are popular now” … but that doesn’t tell you what sort of story people would be interested in seeing, or what sort of stories they would not be interested in seeing.

I think filmmakers should step away from looking at the profit numbers (as long as there’s a profit at least) and just do whatever interests them the most, whatever story gives them goosebumps just thinking about. The audience does matter, but only to a certain degree… not to the degree of dictating what sort of film to make next. Really, audiences have no idea what they want.

Not that that’s not what Disney is doing. I can’t really tell from the article what they’re doing; who knows how they’re making their decisions?

Oh, and did they really want “Tangled” to appeal to boys? Firstly, its style is all wrong for that, from the colors to the guy’s facial hair pattern. Secondly, the preview doesn’t show enough thrilling action. Instead it shows “Here comes the smolder…”

The article also mentions that they’re no longer doing Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen. Though it’s been dramatized before, I’m rather happy about this. Firstly, I’d hate to see the story Disney-ified. The story has a darkness to it that Disney (or Pixar) would probably ruin, even if they ruin it well. Secondly, I’d like to do it myself. Not ruin it, that is, but turn it into an animated feature. I guess there’s really not much of a chance of that, but if Disney had done it, there’d be no chance, so at least now there’s a one billionth of a percent chance.


2 Comments

Scott · November 30, 2010 at 12:29 AM

The problem with this is that Disney had only adapted fairy tales in their animation department for quite a while. The princesses just became a profitable marketing ploy for merchandising. “The Princess and the Frog” being created was actually less about Obama’s presidency or about political correctness, and more about what I call the “Black Santa” phenomenon. It was so that they could sell princess dolls and shirts and dresses and other “toys” to new demographics because she “looked like them.” It sounds racist to say, but I have no doubt that it’s true, and that makes Disney the racist one.

I think they should stop trying to make every female character a princess. They call Belle, Alice, Esmeralda (from the Notre Dame flop), Mulan, and Pocahontas “princesses” too, despite none of them actually being of noble/royal blood. They are clearly misusing the term as a gimmick and it’s stopped working because no one cares anymore. One should not make a movie simply to sell dolls. I wish they would return to some of their old standards for story-telling (and maybe actually try to make a “good” original story… but adapted stories are probably what we’ll get). Grimm and Andersen are filled with Disney fodder stories that would be perfect if they stopped choosing them based on whether they can make some public politically correct statement about the choice.

S P Hannifin · November 30, 2010 at 1:35 AM

Yes, I didn’t mean that “The Princess and the Frog” was really a response to Obama’s presidency; I’m sure they were planning it quite some time before Obama officially announced that he was running for president. And I agree, I’m sure the decision was much more about marketing to a certain demographic than anything political…

Maybe with the new Pixar management at Disney there will be more original stories… maybe that’s what this article is hinting at… as Pixar has been very good with original story creation.

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