Published on September 14th, 2009 | by Rick9
My Date With Disney…
Firstly, before I get into any of what happened last Thursday at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square in London I have to thank Disney for having Culch along in the first place. It was exceptional that a lot of the people in the room were Disney employees from all across Europe or corporate partners or movie chain owners and that I got a seat in the house as a mere member of the online media.
What did I see?
Well the two hour presentation of Disney and Pixar’s upcoming slate for the next two years wasn’t the full reason I was there, the man giving it was. John Lasseter is the incredible creative force behind Pixar and if you’ve ever adored any of their incredible output of films (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles etc etc etc) then his is the hand you need to shake.
He’s shown such a strong commitment to making brilliant animated movies the right way round; you start with a great story you want to tell and then everything else is just window dressing. I have nothing but respect for him and, it turns out, so do Disney who brought him in as creative head of the studio a couple of years ago and gave Pixar a new home.
He bounded on to the stage just after 11am and spent til just 1pm telling us about all these…
First off we were asked to put our (quite sexy) 3D glasses on and take a look at this:
It’s a great trailer, really plays on the idea well and got a very warm reception.
We also got to see the opening sequence of Toy Story 2 in 3D, the way audiences will and he told us about how not a frame has been altered for release. His attitude towards the re-releases is that up until now we’ve been watching the movies with one eye closed… He seems genuinely evangelical about the idea, you do need to remember this is a man who took his wedding pictures in 3D in 1979.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sold on it as an idea at all and I don’t think it added anything to what I saw. I love Toy Story 2 but I don’t think 3D is going to make me love it any more.
We then got to see a very nice little trailer introducing the new character in the new movie in “Groovin With Ken”, first time I’ve seen Michael Keaton’s voice, looked really good. It was played as an archive documentary on Ken from the 1970s. Can’t find it anywhere on the web though, sorry…
He also introduced another character (a hedgehog doll) called Mr Pricklepants to be voiced by Timothy Dalton.
Then, we actually got to see an actual scene from Toy Story 3, a film not out til July of next year.
Unfinished, the occasional part that still needed lighting or bit of a storyboard but it was still thrilling to see something so far ahead of release. In it, Andy is getting ready to go to college and his toys have been unplayed with for years in a box. He’s deciding whether to bring Buzz or Woody with him. He chooses Woody and the rest go into a garbage bag to be put up into the attic. Confusion ensues and his mother thinks they’re for collection on the kerb where Woody has to attempt a rescue…
Looked really great and just as it was with Star Trek earlier this year I hate the idea of having to wait for so long to see the rest.
THEN we got to see the first proper official TS3 trailer. Not the teaser that’s on the web so far, but one with scenes from across the movie including the one I saw and the toys in a kindergarten with small kids being thrown around, shoved up noses and trying to escape. Again, not on the web yet, sorry.
We were shown concept art from Rapunzel (not Rapunzel Unbraided as it’s referred to in places). He spoke about it being the 6th and last unmade princess story for Disney, their 50th feature and their 1st computer animated musical. We got to see a trailer with again, some gorgeous concept art, some storyboard, some finished material (not on the web) and it looks really good. “She’s got more blonde hair than Sweden!”
Interspersed through the presentation were a couple of new Cars Toons for the Disney Channel, directed by Lasseter himself. They’re all based around Mater’s Tall Tales and genuinely very funny. The first, based around a UFO encounter was called U.F.M., the second, Heavy Metal Mater.
He spoke about Cars 2 next, we got a lot of concept art set around the 5 rounds of the Race Of Champions that Lightning McQueen has to take part in; Japan, Germany, Italy, France and London will be the settings. A new character will be Finn McMissile (he’s a very cool looking Aston Martin DB5 with a moustache).
Spring 2011 there’ll be a new Winnie The Pooh movie. Now, having seen the last 2 poor features (made outside Disney) I was fascinated to see what he’d do with this and he has taken a beloved old friend and treated him with the respect he deserves. They went back to the original Milne stories to see what hadn’t been made on screen so far, are doing watercolour backgrounds (inspired by the brilliant Blustery Day Disney featurette) and they have Burny Mattinson on the team. He’s the last of the animators working at Disney who personally worked for Walt and worked on Blustery Day himself, bringing a touch of class to the enterprise.
We were shown a mini-documentary made at Disney with some of the animators involved. Nice.
Then it was on to Pixar business and their first fairytale with their first woman director. The Bear And The Bow will be set in 10th Century Scotland, will be voiced by Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters and Reese Witherspoon and will be out for Christmas 2011. We saw some very nice concept art for the characters…
I’ll readily admit I switched off in the next section – the DTV Tinkerbell series. There are 5 of them being released over 5 years; Tinkerbell & The Lost Treasure, Tinkerbell & The Great Fairy Rescue, Tinkerbell & The Mysterious Winter Woods and Tinkerbell & The Race Through The Seasons. In all fairness to Lasseter he sells these with the same enthusiasm he has for the new tentpole releases and I’m sure they’ll be huge for the market they’re aimed at. Disney themselves have a preview here:
We got a sequence from Up in 3d as it hasn’t been released here yet followed but what was obviously being kept as the big finale.
When he returned to Disney, Lasseter made hand-drawn animation part of the company’s priorities again, and rightly so. The first of the features to come out under his watchful eye is the 1930s, set in New Orleans The Princess & The Frog:
This does it no justice at all. We saw the first half hour of the movie and it looks really, really sumptuous. The artwork is very much in the style of classic Disney like The Jungle Book and Lady & The Tramp, it’s very funny and Randy Newman has done SEVEN songs for it – they’re very catchy. It’s one I’ll actually look forward to bring the kids to see next February.
There’s more on some of the upcoming releases here too:
Our huge thanks for asking Culch along to such an exclusive sneak peak of what looks like a hugely interesting group of new movies in John Lasseter’s brave new Disney world…