Tangled vs. The Fall of Disney Animation

Nigel Druitt

An avid Flickcharter since 2009, Nigel is a self-described fanboy whose Top 20 is dominated by the likes of Indiana Jones, Frodo Baggins and Marty McFly. Nigel is the Canadian arm of the Flickchart Blog, but try not to hold that against him. You can find him on Flickchart as johnmason.

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17 Responses

  1. Interestingly enough, the new Winnie the Pooh movie is going to be traditionally animated.

  2. Travis Easton says:

    Great article, Nigel.  Atlantis is one of my favorites too.  Very much overlooked in the Disney canon.

  3. I still haven’t seen Tangled so I cannot address the film specifically.  The larger issue of hand-drawn animation vs. CGI, however, is one I feel comfortable addressing.

    I, too, was pleased when Disney rolled out The Princess and the Frog.  It appeared to send the message that Disney was going to let Pixar do Pixar things and Disney was going to resume doing Disney things.  Tangled, then, is as much a title about Rapunzel’s hair as it is about Disney’s identity crisis.

    The key mistake Disney made in the 1990s was not in what they made, but in what they took away from each of those films.  I thought they were right to try to make movies that would appeal to young boys; it’s a market that Disney has traditionally ignored, or failed to fully engage when they have tried.  (This was the impetus for their acquisition of Marvel Comics last year.)

    Also, you’ve overlooked the significance of Dreamworks in pressuring Disney to pursue CGI–particularly the success they had right out of the box with Shrek.  Furthermore, in the 1990s, you’ll recall that the Disney Stores had competition from the Warner Bros. Studio Stores.  Merchandise was always part of the game, but now it had become a very competitive part of the business.  Those stores were primarily in suburban malls, vying for the money of the soccer mom whose little darling just had to have a $35 Tigger or Superman backpack, and why not a $12 Mickey Mouse or Tweety coffee mug for herself?  Disney was never shy about peddling merchandise based on their properties, but Warner demonstrated there was a whole new marketing scheme to be emulated…and lots more money to be made.

    Imagine yourself sitting in the Disney corporate meeting.  You’ve tried to reach out to boys, hoping to expand your success and in so doing you not only failed to reach the boys, but you lost the interest of girls, too.  You now have something you haven’t really had in decades: a true competitor, and they’re employing the same technology that your partner, Pixar, has used for its success.  It had to be awfully hard not to conclude that the future for Disney was to pursue CGI.

    The question going forward is, if Pixar is going to be the CGI powerhouse and Disney is now reliant on Marvel Comics to capture the attention of boys, what do they do with Disney proper?  I suspect that the immediate future will see more of the last few years: they’ll jockey back and forth between hand-drawn Princess and the Frogs and CGI Tangleds, expanding their canon of Disney Princesses©®™.  I, too, hope for more of the former than the latter.

    • Nigel Druitt says:

      Very astute about the competition from DreamWorks there, Travis. You’re probably right.

      Meanwhile, as I’ve said, I don’t want to knock Tangled, because it is a good movie. Check it out.

  4. Tom Clift says:

    I really hope Disney doesn’t abandon 2D animated films. I
    quite enjoyed TANGLED, but it did seem to lack the heart-felt, “labour of love” feel that Disney’s more traditionally animated films possess – and that includes the excellent PRINCESS AND THE FROG.

  5. Andrea Jackson says:

    The film actually had to be CG. THe whole story is about a girl with 70-ft long hair. That amount of hair is basically a character in itself. Waist-length hair may look good in 2d, but with all of the action Rapunzel’s hair sees, it just would have been a big yellow blob. It looks good on a 2d drawing, but if animated the hair would be flat and the story wouldn’t have worked.

  6. Braden says:

    Tangled is technically hand drawn too, since Glen Keane drew/ animated over every single frame in the movie, so take away the CGI and it is a hand drawn film! :) that is what makes it so appealing!

  7. Bri says:

    Disney now owns Pixar so it makes sense to use their new addition to expand on their empire. Keeping some tradition is nice but they have to evolve with the times, even though older generations may want to see the classic disney look, the main focus is the children who drag the adults to the movies and they love this type of animation. Just like their plots starting to waiver from “classic Disney” traits, they have to capture the right audience.

  8. Dyako says:

    Personally i enjoy the cgi films better than the 2d drawings but disney should not give up on both and make both.

  9. Joe_HTH says:

    Seems like you’re just anti-CG, and The Princess and the Frog didn’t do well at the box office. Tangled was a huge hit and a fantastic film.

  10. Joe_HTH says:

    Atlantis is one of their worst films.