Thursday, February 22, 2018

Director Exits Disney

This kind of musical chairs deal happens from time to time ...

Skydance Media has entered into a multiyear deal with Nathan Greno (Tangled) to direct the company’s upcoming animated feature film Powerless (working title). Under the agreement, Greno, an animation veteran, will also consult on projects currently in development. ...

There are, I think, a couple of things at work here.

1) Mr. Greno's feature project Gigantic, which was in development a long time, was put on the Mouse of Mouse's shelf several months ago. The studio only makes a few projects in a given year or three, and if your movie gets pushed off the runway, you will likely go to the back of the line with the next project. And do you really want to wait around for years waiting for another slot? Likely not.

2) Today, upper-tier animation talent has options. It isn't just Disney or Hanna-Barbera's low-budget feature department anymore. Lots of studios are now in the theatrical animation game. Some make product in north America, some make projects in Europe and Asia. Skydance Media has a production deal with Ilion Studios in Spain, but the development on Powerless will probably be done in Southern California. And Mr. Greno will (unless I miss my guess) put together a story and design team in Southern California, then take airplane trips to Spain as the project moves along.

Animation isn't a small, sleepy industry anymore. It's not exactly live-action, but it's closer to being "mainstream Hollywood" than it was when Disney Feature Animation was the only big-screen game going. Congratulations to Mr. Greno on signing on to a new field of dreams.

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