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Rhett Wickham: Great Animated Performances: Profiles of Modern Masters
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RW

It’s interesting that you would say that about the retro look, because that’s exactly the spin they’re putting on HOME ON THE RANGE.

JM

I can believe it. The whole look of 2D as something that you never get to see, something cool from the past.

RC

But even if tomorrow they decided they wanted to make a 2D film, and there aren’t any plans, I’m just saying if they did, well just the ramp up time alone would be at least four years before they would see it in theatres. And people say that 2D is dead at Disney, and I sort of feel like it is. But it may be dead like Snow White was dead in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – it’s dead until a prince comes along and resurrects it. And I actually believe that will happen, it will come back.

RW

Well isn’t it a bit like the Board of Directors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art deciding that painting is dead, so they try to market the existing paintings as ‘retro’ until they can acquire enough photographs to replace all the paintings in the museum? And then just exhibit nothing but photographs because “painting is dead, and nobody wants to see paintings!? ?!

 

JM

Basically. And given all the salary cuts that happened at Disney and all of that, I think from an economic point of view…I do think that 2D had gotten very, very expensive because of the competition from Jeffrey and everybody else for talent. Now that competition has faded away and salaries have certainly come way, way down, you could certainly do it reasonably for a price. I mean a good animated feature.

RC

In terms of what happened at Disney it happened about three years ago now, when all the salary cut-backs and layoffs started. It was about three years ago now, which was before ATLANTIS came out, before SHREK came out, before MONSTERS INCORPORATED or FINDING NEMO. And I think people kind of forget now that when originally they were doing all those salary cuts and they were doing all those layoffs it wasn’t because 2D was not special, and it wasn’t because 3D was doing so much better, it was primarily because 2D had become too expensive – way too expensive. I think the original impetus, I think, of everything was not to eliminate 2D. The original impetus was to get it … to do it at a more reasonable cost, which I think absolutely needed to be done.

RW

I remember I was talking to Jim Pentecost as he was wrapping up his deal on the lot, right after he produced the live action GEPETTO with Drew Carey, and he said then that they had to start realizing that these animated films were $70 million, $80 million films - at best - and that they had to make them at a cost that they could recover at the box office. That not every film is a $300million or even a $200-or-150 million hit and it was foolish to expect them to hit so huge every time, nor was it fair to think that $80 or $90 million was bad box-office, because it’s not. And he’s still right.

RC

I think what happened was that as the original impetus to bring cost down and to control that, this other thing happened with CG which was at that point three Pixar movies – Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life. Since then there’s been not only two monster hits from Pixar

JM

No pun intended

RC

Which have been ICE AGE and SHREK. So it’s all timing. Everything happened at once. What was originally a plan to sort of reduce costs and -

JM

The Disney stock was down and then we got more bottom line-

RC

And with Pixar…the possibility of Pixar leaving sort of existing I think for at least a couple of years now … I think that turned what had originally been a desire to bring down costs to what eventually happened where they eliminated 2D. The focus became not so much bringing the costs down on 2D but trying to get another Pixar as quickly as possible. Trying to get an in-house Pixar to compete with Pixar and then traditional sort of Disney animation is a casualty of that.

 

 

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