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By tpault
March 23, 2004

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Rambling no. 1; Disney's next board meeting takes place at Disneyland. This leads me to wonder how many times a board member, Eisner, or an executive visits the parks without us knowing about it. I don't see how anyone can claim higher-ups don't visit the parks enough, when it's impossible to know.

Rambling no. 2; Disney's feature length animated movie Home On The Range opens on April 2. Hand drawn movies haven't proven they can hold their own against computerized animation, for years. Some claim computerization makes hand drawn outdated while others claim the story is the sole determining factor in success. Executives point to audience preferences and runaway animator salaries, and are reportedly recruiting third world artists to not just save money but to seemingly make a point that artists aren't in a position to demand a lofty & sanctified status within the company. Failed or poorly performing hand drawn movie after movie at Disney leads executives pointing to the medium as dying, while witnessing animators also trying to shove the blame elsewhere, claiming accountants are ruining creativity. But one has to wonder just how many hand-drawns have to tank before some quit passing the buck to Michael Eisner. Home On The Range appears to have all the elements of a successful Disney animated hand-drawn movie. Talking animals, a great story, superb hand drawn animation, and an endearing factor not readily apparent in the likes of Atlantis or Treasure Planet. It may be true that those two hand-drawns tried to exploit the visual acuity and capability of cell animation, but left some demographies and story elements found in more successful movies, behind.

Home On The Range, on the other hand, seems to get back to basics in animation technique but hits a home run with story, IMO. And so this movie may be a turning point. If it makes more than $150 million, it may have the effect of reviving hand drawn. If it makes less, it won't be the head turner that hand drawn so desperately needs.

Home On The Range may just be the hand drawn movie that should have done well. It may be that this movie's story is not so poor that critics can point to Michael Eisner and say he ruined it. Eventually, a hand drawn will come out that does in fact have all the right stuff, but doesn't quite approach Shrek or Monsters, Inc. status. It will be interesting to see if the hand drawn crowd then tries to blame the movie's story and characters in that case, even though those elements may be world class. Home On The Range just may be the movie that does fantastic, or does poorly, and helps answer the question once and for all: Has hand drawn painted itself into a corner and out of audience favor, or is it truly that story and characters alone can bring Monstrous audiences to the theaters.

Paul T.


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