Disney Futures – Including The On-Again King Of the Elves

I asked a few weeks ago “Is King of the Elves still alive?” after artist Andy Harkness let slip in an interview that he had been working on it. There’s now full confirmation that indeed it is. Good news.

The first word I saw came from Progress City USA, but as I wasn’t sure on their track record, I waited and started digging further. Then Blue Sky Disney repeated, more or less, the same tune:

Lasseter decided to stop development on [King of the Elves] until they had a better take on the project. Well, now they have that better take, and the version that will be going forward is much different thanks to [Bolt director] Chris Williams’ new direction on the project. That’s right, Williams is the new director of KOTE, and it is moving forward in development. While it hasn’t received approval to go into production, Williams is one of John’s “first finds” at WDAS and he likes what he sees in the young animator/director. Since he came aboard, the story flow has become much smoother than the previous try.

Sounds great. To back this report up, Animation Guild Business Rep. Steve Hulett made the following comment at his blog:

Yes, now that Blue Sky has broken it, I will confirm that Elves is back in development. I’ve talked to artists working on it.

See? I do occasionally cough a tid bit up. It just has to see the light of day someplace else first.

So, yes. Hurrah! and all that.

The only odd thing is, nobody seems to be able to agree whether or not King of the Elves is still charted for CG production, or if it will be hand drawn.

Both the Progress City and Blue Sky articles made references to other, in-development Disney pictures. Both make reference to a CG toon called Reboot Ralph, which we’ve known a little about for some time, and also a new, hand-drawn version of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Putting all of the pieces together – including another comment by Steve Hulett – it’s now clear that director Chris Buck put a Beanstalk pitch together, but didn’t get the green light for development. The reason, it is said, is fear of competition from Bryan Singer’s live action version of the same story. Disney being Disney, however, I’m sure there will be another pass at this story made somewhere down the line.

There’s a lot of other tidbits in the original stories, but not a great deal of substance, a lot of hints and whispers and not much in black and white. I’ll keep listening, though, and bring you anything solid that shows up.

Philip Glenister

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