SCOOP: Mickey Mouse’s First Feature Length Film Being Developed At Disney

We’re rapidly drawing in on the release of the next feature from Walt Disney Animation, a return to the sweet and charming world of AA Milne‘s Winnie the Pooh. It’s a rare hand drawn picture, beautifully crafted by some of the best of this era’s best animation artists.

One of the key players is Burny Mattinson, a veteran of the 1960′s Pooh pictures. He served as the supervising story artist on this film, and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be running my interview with the man, an easy going but rigorous discussion about the hows and whys and wotsits of this new Pooh’s journey to the screen.

In the meantime, a tease. A little tidbit from what Mattinson and I were talking about, a hook to hopefully keep you online for the coverage still to come.

Now. During our interview, I did take a second to enquire about what Mattinson will be working on next. And while it’s early days for his new project, it does sound like the perfect follow-up to Pooh.

He said:

I am working on just an idea of my own which is basically a Mickey, Donald, Goofy feature film idea. We have to present it first to the bosses to get the green light.

Just about time that Mickey got his own feature, wouldn’t you say? And I’d be over the moon for more Donald and Goofy any way I can get them.

There’s a slightly different “green light” system in place at animation studios than with live action filmmaking. Films are first worked up into preliminary pitches, complete with artwork, before they are presented to the studio for approval. Then, if the studio give the nod, the film goes into a period of “active development”, months filled with intense storyboarding, reworking and design. Then, a second green light is needed before actual production begins.

I’m sure Mattinson is a great man for this particular job. A Mickey feature would likely skew much closer to the low-key misadventure of Winnie the Pooh than a high-stakes, high-concept, high-budget picture in the vein of The Princess and the Frog or Tangled. It just seems more true to the character, I think, and Disney really do take the integrity of their characters very seriously.

Come back tomorrow for the first of my full Winnie the Pooh reports, bringing word from the film’s directors, Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall. Then, over the coming weeks stay tuned for interviews with the animators; with a Disney licensing and merchandising power player; and a full interview with Burny Mattinson.

Winnie the Pooh reaches UK cinemas on April 15, then opens in the US this July. Here’s the trailer.

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