Monday, November 29, 2010

Unhappily Ever After - The End of Princess Films?

Unhappily Ever After - The End of Princess Films?

One of the Holiday films that came out this past weekend was the latest, and what will be the last Disney Princess film for the foreseeable future, according to Disney.

Though, I guess it should be noted that before The Princess and The Frog, Mulan was the last of the "Princess" films back in 1998 if you don't count sequels. Then the one before that was the poorly translated Pocahontas in 95, which ironically enough better fits the title but isn't part of the brand. Others in the bran are Jasmine from Aladdin in 92. Beauty and the Beast in 91. But then you get to a dry spell where before 1990, you have only four princess movies being made over the course of 53 years.

Anyhow, back to this film, it began as a traditional animated story from Disney about Rapunzel. However during pre-production the decision was made to turn it into a CG movie and in 3D from what looks like a really nice sketch character design..

So let's go back to the beginning. The original concept from Disney animation legend Glen Keane was to give the film a distinct look. Where every frame resembled an oil painting, directly inspired by classic Rococo art. This painting, "The Swing" by Jean-Honore Fragonard, was the chief inspiration for the look of the film:

So what you ended up with a little CG animation was something that looked, according to Keane, as "a film of astonishing beauty". If you don't believe me, here's what it would have tried to translate the above painting to in terms of backgrounds.

Here's a couple more shots of what the concept art for how the film was suppose to look was going to be like.

And you wouldn't be able to tell this story without a tower that needed long hair to climb up it.

And here is the original Keane character art for Rapunzel:

But then they took a look at the actual numbers for The Princess and The Frog and.. well...
After the less-than-fairy-tale results for its most recent animated release, "The Princess and the Frog," executives at the Burbank studio believe they know why the acclaimed movie came up short at the box office.

Brace yourself: Boys didn't want to see a movie with "princess" in the title. This time, Disney is taking measures to ensure that doesn't happen again. The studio renamed its next animated film with the girl-centric name "Rapunzel" to the less gender-specific "Tangled."

The makeover of "Rapunzel" is more than cosmetic. Disney can ill afford a moniker that alienates half the potential audience, young boys, who are needed to make an expensive family film a success.
The Princess and the Frog underperformed, which Disney execs blamed on its lack of appeal to boys -- hence the effort to butch up this film's marketing campaign as much as possible. (It's still called Rapunzel in much of the rest of the world, though.)

So thanks to panicky Disney executives for whom a $222 million dollar worldwide gross for The Princess and The Frog was simply not enough to keep the Disney Princess market alive, they pushed Keane out, dumped his project and started over going more towards a boy-appealing Shrek style film.

But I guess we really shouldn't judge a film based on the format it's presented. 3D is just a way to cash in on a new technology right now, so how about the meat and potatoes of the film.. the story. The story on this one after it's all said and done
After receiving the healing powers from a magical flower, the baby Princess Rapunzel is kidnapped from the palace in the middle of the night by Mother Gothel. Mother Gothel knows that the flower's magical powers are now growing within the golden hair of Rapunzel, and to stay young, she must lock Rapunzel in her hidden tower. Rapunzel is now a teenager and her hair has grown to a length of 70-feet.

The beautiful Rapunzel has been in the tower her entire life, and she is curious of the outside world. One day, the bandit Flynn Rider scales the tower and is taken captive by Rapunzel. Rapunzel strikes a deal with the charming thief to act as her guide to travel to the place where the floating lights come from that she has seen every year on her birthday. Rapunzel is about to have the most exciting and magnificent journey of her life.
Okay, that sounds at least interesting. I mean, I've survived through all the other Disney films that have been horribly butchered from the source material to make them cautionary tales to uplifting happily ever after stories, so this one can't be so bad, can it? I mean, I enjoyed the first Shrek, and if it's anything like that, then it should be entertaining.. minus all those stupid Top 40's pop songs.

And even though it's not done in 2D animation, it does look beautiful and I have heard many good things about it. Though not had the chance to see it as I've just caught the latest in Harry Potter films.... Okay, I'm sure that makes me sound like my interest in film is that of a 12 year old.

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