King of the Elves being reworked; Disney plans far ahead

Blue Sky Disney has an interesting piece about all the changes that have been going on at Disney lately (due to John Lasseter’s arrival), and also about many of its future projects. Among these many cancellations and changing-ups, the upcoming King of the Elves has undergone a reasonably big reworking. Read on to find out more.

As well as other projects, The King of the Elves (which was due out in the next few years) had actually been shelved. The film, based on Philip K. Dick’s story, has now come back into the forefront however – with Chris Williams as director. Having previously worked in the story department for Mulan, The Emperor’s New Groove and Brother Bear; most recently Williams wrote and directed Bolt. Now, Bolt itself underwent huge changes after the initial story idea was presented by Chris Sanders – who was planning a film called American Dog, to be based around an ex-TV star dog, a zany cat and a radioactive rabbit, wandering around the Nevada Desert. It seemed to be a much more original idea than its eventual form of Bolt, which took a more traditional, family-friendly approach (as opposed to crazy radioactive bunnies). Sanders was removed to make way for Williams. I’m sure Sanders could have handled it well though; Lilo & Stitch is a fantastic film, and probably the best of Disney’s efforts in the last decade.

Anywho, Chris Williams is now being used again to resurrect an old project, albeit with a different approach. /Film pointed towards some concept art from The King of the Elves at Animatie Blog, one piece of which you can see above. I’m really liking the style of the creatures, and I hope they don’t simplify them too much for the final film. And while Bolt was pretty good, I hope The King of the Elves turns out a lot better. I really want to see Disney making great movies again.

Yet I’m just not sure about all these re-workings that are going on. Newt being cancelled, Pixar making mostly just sequels, too… Honor Hunter assures us that the recently-released Tangled trailer, which was admittedly pretty awful, is a misrepresentation of the film:

And so the Hat Building waits to see the reaction to this latest film, which, from those I’ve talked to is quite good actually. It’s far more classic in its telling than that horrid teaser trailer with the rock music score would have you believe. It’s not a direct attempt to mimic the pop-cultury films of rival studio DreamWorks Animation. It’s just the marketing departments sad attempt to take a film that is what it is, and try to make it appeal to more boys. Which, if you think about it is a stupid thing to do, because once those boys realize they’ve been sold a bill of goods, they’ll stomp out of the theater and head toward the exit.

I was worried after seeing the teaser, and this is kinda re-assuring. But there’s still the renaming of the film from Rapunzel to Tangled, a shameless attempt at tricking kids into thinking it’s not a film about a princess. And what happened to the fact that Tangled‘s art style was supposed to be based on this beautiful painting? The animation seems much more exaggerated and simple than I resultantly thought it was going to look, but maybe that was the intention. Don’t get me wrong though, the film still looks visually great – just more like a typical CG Disney movie than Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “The Swing” led me to believe. Hopefully, however, the only issue is the way the advertising department is portraying the film.

A lot of stuff is going on at the House of Mouse. There is certainly an enormous line-up of films, especially if you include Pixar’s releases. From Disney’s own animation department though: we will see Tangled this year, Winnie the Pooh next year, and Reboot Ralph the year after. And then after that, there will apparently be a film from Rich Moore, Emmy-winning director of The Simpsons and Futurama. He’s helmed some classic episodes, and the combination of him and Disney is definitely intriguing.

Then we have Chris Williams’s The King of the Elves (which will be CG-animated), and according to the Blue Sky Disney post, two more projects have been given the development go-ahead: one CGI, and one hand-drawn. The hand-drawn one is based on a pitch by Ron Clements and Jon Musker (directors of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet and The Princess and the Frog). Honor has this to say about it:

And while details are slim, this project is being described as unlike any project that these two directors have done before and takes Disney into territory it hasn’t really explored. This will be no princess movie.

Interesting… It will reportedly enter production around next year.

And then there is the final CG project, also unlike others we’ve seen before. This one is from Dean Wellins, who has worked as an animator on The Iron Giant, Treasure Planet and The Princess and the Frog. This one is in incredibly early stages.

Now some other final tidbits from Honor Hunter’s great post:

– The new Winnie the Pooh movie might end up being titled The Further Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

– Two projects from Chris Buck (director of Tarzan and Surf’s Up) were canned recently: Snow Queen, and an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. The latter was shelved due to Bryan Singer’s upcoming film based on the same story.

Briefly, while we’re on the subject of Disney; Beauty and the Beast 3D‘s release date has been pushed back to “2012 or later” (according to THR), and Monsters, Inc. 2 has been pulled forward to November 2nd 2012, so as not to compete with the second part of Breaking Dawn, the final Twilight movie.

Wow. That is a lot of info to take in. Thanks to Honor Hunter for his Disney guru-nature. We were all expecting Disney to rise from the ashes with John Lasseter taking over. While the quality of the films is definitely improving, they still haven’t reached the lofty standards the animation giant has set for itself in the past. I must say I’m excited to see all of these future projects, and I’d absolutely love to see some of them reach that level of greatness. Color me cautiously optimistic.

  • Honor Hunter

    I was wondering why my ears were burning…

    Thanks for the shout out.

  • Jack

    Of course! Thank YOU for your brilliant blog and insight!

  • Damon Grae

    want to see this verY BADLY

  • Damon Grae

    Phillip K. Dick is my favorite Author and I’m afraid they will not bring out the spookiness and the scariness that this story holds…. This story is amazing for the short story that it is and should be held to the Main Ideas that are there. I would like to see Disney do a movie that holds to the true story that is written…