Drawing the Sad Face in Disney's Direction


In a world where the Pope can just up and quit and National League and American League teams will play every night during baseball's regular season, I suppose it makes sense in some weird way that the Walt Disney Company has no plans to release a hand-drawn animated film anytime soon. But -- and perhaps I'm showing my age and thinning hair and increasingly distant childhood here -- it just feels wrong doesn't it? Wrong or not, that's the reality. Disney isn't developing a single film in the style that Americans for the last, oh, 60 years most connect them with, as SlashFilm reported:

At Wednesday’s Walt Disney Company shareholder’s meeting, CEO Bob Iger revealed none of Disney’s animation companies, which includes Disney Animation, Pixar and Disney Toons, are currently developing, or have plans to develop, any 2D, hand drawn animation for the big screen. He’s not ruling it out, but the current slate  -- which probably stretches 3-4 years -- has none of it.

The business side of this makes perfect sense, I suppose. Computer animation that can be more easily released in 3D stands to be immensely more profitable, all other things being equal, than a hand-drawn animated feature, especially when you factor in the considerable time and energy needed to bring the latter type of film to fruition. Simple economics aside, it's not really a surprise that Disney is edging ever so slightly away from the animated feature given their acquisitions in the last half-decade. It might very well be a good thing that the Marvel and Star Wars universes are under the wing of Disney for those properties, but those gargantuan additions have also irrevocably changed the DNA of Disney as a moviemaking entity, and not necessarily for the better.

To borrow another baseball analogy, it might make business sense for Wrigley Field to host more night games, but that doesn't mean it's going to feel right when the Chicago Cubs aren't playing home day games. Put another way, if Disney can find time for projects like Oz the Great and Powerful (a film that, by the way, I'm quite excited for), then shouldn't they be required (by law, or something) to always be working on a hand-drawn animated feature?

The answer is yes, of course. But hey, if the Pope can quit being all Pope-y, I guess Disney can cease doing the things that have defined its identity for decades too.

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.