Why Disney is On the Right Track
With the animated musical Frozen doing so well at the box office, many involved at Disney are probably breathing a sigh of relief. It’s no secret that Disney has been on more than enough rocky ground in the last decade. But between their releases of Tangled, Wreck-it-Ralph and the new Frozen, Disney is sitting in a much more promising and more secure place.
Despite what many people think, Disney was a sinking ship ten years ago. Up to that point, Disney had been doing all of their own animating. Unfortunately, they weren’t getting to box office or critical results to match their effort. Films like Treasure Planet and Atlantis: The Lost Empire were good, but they didn’t give the returns that Disney needed. In the meantime, the movies that Disney had hired Pixar to make were captivating critics and box office records everywhere. By the time the seven-film contract between Pixar and Disney was up, Disney had a choice to make: either let go of the company that was making them millions and find a new one, or buy them.
Disney made the smart choice. But what was even smarter was the decision that followed: to make John Lasseter, essentially, the Disney Animation head honcho. Years ago when Disney started to have problems, the answer was to add Jeffrey Katzenberg. The result was the Golden Age of Disney. Now with John Lasseter at the helm, can Disney recreate a second comeback?
All signs point to yes right now. Many are saying that Frozen is the greatest Disney movie since Beauty and The Beast (which is high praise, since the film was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar back in the day). It also helps that Disney has been slowly adding to their family of material: they bought the rights to the Muppets in 2004 and Marvel in 2009. It hasn’t taken Disney long to start working with their new material either. The first Muppet film in 2011 was a success, with the next film planned for this March. With their new Marvel rights, Disney has dug back through the archives of lesser-known Marvel heroes and is making a film about Big Hero 6, a group of heroes much like the Fantastic Four or The Avengers. The film is set to come out this November.
One of the interesting aspects to these new Disney films is how they have managed to become a product of both Disney and Pixar. Brooks Barnes from the New York Times once mentioned in an article about Tangled that, while they were expected to merge into one, each had their own flair for storytelling. Disney films were typically based on fairy tales, and often dealt with the character overcoming personal trials and struggles. Pixar, on the other hand, had more quirky and unusual stories, aiming more for the clever and unexpected rather than predictable. The question was whether or not the two could find a way to combine their storytelling.
If you’ve seen the film Frozen, you’ll know what I mean when I say that it has the story of a classic Disney film, but the quirks of Pixar. It is in my opinion that this film is indicative of nothing less than a perfect merge of what makes both Pixar and Disney great in their own right. And if this film is the sign of things to come, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.