Posts Tagged ‘disney’


Beauty and the Remake

April 13, 2017

It’s a tale as old as time… and a movie as old as 1991.

Ahh, Beauty and the Beast.  A tale as old as time… and a movie that sailed into our hearts in the more recent times of 1991.

The original animated movie came as Disney was rocketing skyward once more in what’s come to be known as the Disney Renaissance (culminating with my beloved The Lion King).  It ended up being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the first and only time an animated movie has been thusly nominated (and likely to remain the only time with the subsequent creation of the Best Animated Feature category).  The ballroom scene remains one of the most stunning moments in animation history.  It is firmly entrenched as a Disney Classic.

So how does this classic tale and animated glory fare in its live-action remake?

(Caution!  Spoilers ahead!) Read the rest of this entry ?


Celebrating Zootopia

March 5, 2017

Our drive began before the sunrise.  After an intense flurry of hasty arranging late Friday night.  The destination:  LA.  The reason: to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Zootopia with Rich Moore and Nate Torrence.


Rich tweeted the invite on Friday evening to join them at The Big Donut (actually Randy’s Donuts, the donut shop that inspired the design for The Big Donut shop in Little Rodentia) for a brief bout of festivities Saturday morning.  Brief it was, for when we got there (nary an hour after it was to begin) it was pretty much all over:  the live Facebook Q&A was finished, the giveaways were done, and most people were leaving.

But the main reason I wanted to go was to meet Rich, and that turned out more than splendidly.


Joining Rich and Nate was Clark Spencer, the producer.  It was a total delight.  They are all absolutely wonderful people, and really approachable.  I had fun and great conversations with them all.  Most exciting and special for me was to gave Rich a framed copy of my postcard of gratitude that I’d made for the Zootopia team last year, and to express, in person, to both him and Clark my acknowledgement and appreciation for the film and all the work they put into it.  I also got to give a nice hug to each of them.



The rest of the crew were extra nice too, and they very generously gifted me one of the “cast only” shirts and got Rich and Clark to sign it for me!  I love Rich’s little bunny face…


Besides being all dressed up, Randy’s Donuts were also giving away free (before you even ordered!) “The Big Donut” donuts.  They looked very tasty… (Curse you gluten, my kryptonite!)


It was brief, but it was awesome.  A perfect way to celebrate a movie that has been so momentous for me (and for millions of others).  I’m still giddy about it.  To get a chance to interact with the creators and express how moving the film is and share even a smiggen of what I’ve professed was very exciting and fulfilling.  A day I will long remember.

Rest of our day was spent at the Getty Villa (also drove along Highway 1 to get there, and saw the infamous Santa Monica Beach along with a catching a glimpse of interesting and modern beach houses in passing) and eating some delicious food.  And, of course, the big drive back, returning long after the sun was, once again, over the horizon.   (Actually it was the next day by the time we arrived home… been kinda tired today, understandably…)



Hopping Wildely Excited!

February 26, 2017


Huge grats to Rich, Byron, Jared, Clark, Josie, Matthias, David, Ginnifer, Jason, Idris, Jenny, Nate, Tommy, JK, Octavia, Alan, and each and every single mammal who worked on the Zootopia team.  Well deserved Oscar win for an absolutely wonderful film.


Zootopia hits the Gold

January 9, 2017

A brief celebration of Zootopia winning the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature!  (And a belated celebration of Zootopia being one of the American Film Institute’s Official Selection of the AFI AWARDS for 2016; and all its other accolades and wins!)  Woo!


Onward to the Oscars!


Zootopia: A Year End View

December 29, 2016

At this point, it readily appears that Zootopia will be number four in worldwide box office take for films released in 2016. Rogue One is likely to secure first place (it’s already at 654M after two weeks), pushing Zootopia down from third to fourth, behind Rogue One, Captain America: Civil War, and Finding Dory. (Moana seems to be fizzling out, and I’m not sure it will even crack the top 5)

So Zootopia will be #4.

This is remarkable. I’d even say amazing.

This means that Zootopia has, very handily, cemented itself in this top 5 while being the ONLY film in that top 5 that is a new property – a whole-cloth brand new original film with zero reliance on an existing franchise.

In addition, Zootopia’s box office worldwide take is just a smidge down from Finding Dory, a mere 4M or so. It’s also only about 12% down from the current top placer (and soon to be #2 with Rogue One’s ascension), Captain America.

Which is to say, without relying on previous pent up excitement, demand, knowledge, fans, or anticipation, Zootopia rocketed up the charts to hang out with the so-called “big boys and girls”. *

It also garnered the top spot on Rotten Tomatoes rankings for 2016, at 98% Fresh.

And it did this with a very modest marketing push.

When I was visiting the Walt Disney Studio lot, I struck up a conversation with another attendee, and we got to talking about Zootopia. She mentioned she didn’t go to see the film while it was in theaters, because as she put it, “the way Disney was marketing it, I thought it was one of their filler movies.”

And maybe that is exactly how Disney thought.

If so, they were mistaken.

All this long windedness is really to underscore and illustrate that Zootopia’s success – that #4 position in amongst “bigger” films – comes solely from its own merits. Zootopia’s success is born through the strength of its story, the strength of its characters, and the strength of its storytelling. Zootopia is a movie filled with panache, with wit, with love, with beauty, with transformation, with delight, and with gravitas. It is a movie filled to the brim with possibility. Zootopia touches us dearly. In a movie about animals, it reminds us who we can be as humans.

It is the triumph of what good storytelling can be, and what it can do.

Judy, Nick, Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, Cory Loftis, Josie Trinidad, Clark Spencer, Matthias Lechner, David Goetz, Jennifer Lee, all the voice actors and actresses, and everyone at Walt Disney Animation who worked on this film can stand proud with the art they have wrought through their hard work and dedication.

When Zootopia opened, few may have been aware of it. By the end of its long run, the world knew. **

Zootopia is not a movie that will ever leave us. We will carry it, and all it embodies, forward with us into 2017 and beyond.


* – Yes, I will be the first to admit that box office take does not necessarily equal quality. Quite the contrary, there are many, many examples of movies that are terrible on a whole host of levels – cinematically, story, narrative, action, excitement, story-telling, etc – that still manage to rake in gazabillions of dollars. As do their sequels. Even if it’s crappy titillation (and titillation can be great and wholly worthwhile, if it’s well-done titillation), it still gets butts into theatres. But here, Zootopia doesn’t play up the usual and safe/default tropes to entice viewers. There are only two major action sequences, with minimal violence and only one explosion (used more for humour than anything). There’s no sexy sexy imagery or action (nudity is used, again, more for humour). No giant set pieces. It’s not a typical “blockbuster”. Yet it nearly matched the very explosion-heavy, punch-heavy, skintight suit-heavy, giant set piece-heavy, and readily known next chapter in, Captain America (and it beat the pants off BvS, Suicide Squad, Deadpool…). And, on the other end of the spectrum, it’s also not the typical “kids” fare of either princesses, which can rake in millions from familiarity and little girls, or fart jokes (can I just celebrate that Zootopia tripled the Angry Birds Movie take?). Zootopia was a whole different animal. (Ha! Pun semi-intended…)

** – With more marketing and support, who knows what heights Zootopia could have reached… and what greater impact might it have had? We can only imagine.


Wonder Thursday/Sunday

December 8, 2016

Here’s our delightful photo from Sunday’s Disney Studio Light up the Season!


(And yes indeed, Tigger put away his bounce long enough to merrily ride on my shoulder for the entire evening…)


Architecture Monday

December 5, 2016


So, yeah, this happened! Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to visit a bit of the Walt Disney Studios lot.  It was a wonderful day of festivities, but also a wonderful day for geeking out not only on Disney history but also on the architecture and design of the studio buildings and the lot itself.  There’s something to be said about standing on the lot itself, surrounded by all the buildings and being in the alleyways made between them, to experience that space (and the meaning we bring to the space).





There’s something very lovely about the old original Animation, Shorts, Cutting, and Theatre buildings.  Disney oversaw the design of many of these, especially the Animation building, which was designed deliberately, looking much like a double-sided comb in plan, so that there was as many areas available with windows so that the animators would have access to as much natural light as possible.  Trees fill these “light-alleyways” now (the building was converted to administrative use during the dark days when Disney Animation was not doing very well), but still the feel is very much there.


Taking a step back, the building does exude its utilitarian function, but Disney was an artist, and knew the effect that art and surroundings had on people.  The articulation of the building, with the continuous green bandings and the brick base or brick highlights around the doors, carry through on all of the buildings of that era, little touches that help give them scale and texture, as well as helping them relate to each other.  It’s great to note that the buildings were not exact copies of each other, but that they used the elements and motifs in slightly different ways.  For buildings to talk to each other, they don’t have to be exact copies.


This carries through on some of the newer and much more expressive buildings, the most prominently known of which is the Michael Eisner Team Disney building.  Very different building type and feel, yet the redish brick and yellow stucco still make an appearance, even if the roof is being held up by the dwarves.

(As an aside, I’ll say here that, like all so-called architectural styles, there are examples of wonderful post-modernist buildings, and examples of some pretty awful executions.  I think the hyper-PoMo lines Team Disney building, with its stylized neo-classical puffery and dwarves holding up the oversized pediment, really works as a Disney building.  It’s kind of silly and playful and the proportions are not so horrendously out of scale, nor is it too reduced to too much of a caricature of the building form.)

I was also really struck by the use of fonts.  I’m… also a bit of a font geek, and there’s a font used throughout the Disney property (you can see it repeated in the signs on the buildings above) that, again, really made things feel cohesive and really helped evoke the sense that you were in the Disney domain.  For the employees working there, that careful level of detail can be felt and helps create a strong sense of place, and a wonderful reminder of what they’re there to do and the art they’re there to create or support in being created.

A modified version is even used on the wonderful road markings!


One building I didn’t get to see very well as it is across the street, is the new home of Walt Disney Animation, the Roy E Disney Animation Building.  The most playful of the bunch, with its big hat entrance and the large “fin” that stretches the length of the building, there are still touches that reminisce to the original Animation building.

not my picture -- alas

not my picture — alas


view from Google Earth

(One day, I will visit within.  Given my recent, achem, obsession with Zootopia and the rekindling of my love of Disney Animation, I must visit….)

I’ll end with a mention of the new archive building, a nice little composition in glass and steel, and a shot of the Zorro parking structure, where we started and ended our day:



Architecture.  Helping Disney make magic since 1940.