No More Fairytales From Disney? Not So Fast…

Disney buffs across the world are going crazy over a single comment published by The LA Times this weekend. Here it is:

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.

They were moved to make this statement after interviewing Ed Catmull, the studio’s president, who told them following:

Films and genres do run a course. They may come back later because someone has a fresh take on it … but we don’t have any other musicals or fairy tales lined up.

I guess it all comes down to what “lined up” might mean, or “foreseeable future”.

Catmull has since issued the following statement via Disney Animation’s Facebook page:

A headline in today’s LA Times erroneously reported that the Disney fairy tale is a thing of the past, but I feel it is important to set the record straight that they are alive and well at Disney and continue this week with Tangled, a contemporary retelling of a much loved story. We have a number of projects in development with new twists that audiences will be able to enjoy for many years to come.

So, he’s backpedalled a bit, perhaps, maybe, slightly, just a touch.

The LA Times offer the cancellation of Jack and the Beanstalk and The Snow Queen as evidence that the days of the fairytale are numbered. I’ll offer the development of a Discworld picture in reply – Discworld stories are fairy tales every bit as much as The Snow Queen, I’d say, if not more so.

It’s very early days, and the Discworld film may never get a greenlight, but I believe it’s being explored at the studio, and actively. Even if all goes well it’s at least three years from cinema screens, if not four, five or more, but it’s somewhere up the line.

So there’s no new musical fairytale coming from Disney in the next two years or so. It’s not like that ever happened before… Not unless you count the nine years between Pinocchio and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad; the six years between Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty; the twenty-two years between The Sword in the Stone and The Black Cauldron; the four years from there to The Little Mermaid; and, please, just look at the list of films from 1995-2009:

Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, Dinosaur, The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Lilo & Stitch, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, Home on the Range, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, Bolt.

If you want to fight, I’ll give you Mulan, New Groove, Brother Bear and Chicken Little, but not a single one of the others. I’ve already gone soft and called Peter Pan and Mr. Toad fairy tale characters.

The truth of the matter is, fairytales were only ever a part of what Walt Disney Animation were doing, and they would come along, go away for a while and then, sooner or later, come back again. For whatever reason, it seems like we’re about to go into another light patch, but not necessarily for long, and I doubt very much that this will be any kind of record-breaking hiatus.