Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Liefacts: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Monday, November 25th, 2013
  • Disney chose the spelling “dwarfs” over “dwarves” out of fear that some Americans might pronounce the “v” as the Roman numeral five.
  • Originally, Walt Disney wanted all of the dwarfs other than Doc to be named Billy.
  • The Wicked Queen was named after the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • The prince was going to have a larger part in the story until test audiences reported that he was consistently being upstaged by other moving objects.
  • Snow White was originally given her name as a product tie-in for Ivory Snow — the same detergent that to this day Disneyland uses during the holidays to make fake snow on Main Street.
  • The soap-product tie in is also why the film has such a long segment devoted to washing up.
  • After the film’s release, American apple sales plummeted by 78%, but national disdain for stepparents skyrocketed.
  • The actor who performed the voice of Dopey wasn’t Mel Blanc (among others).
  • Andy Devine auditioned for the part of the Huntsman, but didn’t get it because of his voice.
  • After being revived by the Prince’s kiss, Snow White is technically a zombie.

Liefacts: Mulan

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
  • The ancient Chinese story that served as the basis for Mulan was also the inspiration for the Marilyn Monroe feature Some Like It Hot.
  • Because she is not royalty, Mulan is not an official Disney princess. She is, however, an honorary princess, much like Jessica Rabbit and The Mad Hatter.
  • A cricket was featured in the film because in China it is considered good luck to not eat one.
  • Mulan was not the first Disney feature about cross dressing. That honor belongs to 1959’s The Shaggy Dog.
  • After the film’s release there was some disappointment in the more “politically correct” areas of Hollywood that the actors cast for various parts in the film did not more close match their character’s ethnic origins. For example, Mushu — a dragon — was voiced by Eddie Murphy — a comedian. Disney did not move forward with the precedent set in Pocahontas in which the character of Meeko was voiced by an actual raccoon.
  • Mulan was originally given a “15” rating in Great Britain because of “a depiction of excessive numbers of nude adults in a children’s film.”
  • For the year after Mulan was released, Tinker Bell in the nightly Disneyland fireworks display was replaced by a mannequin of Shan Yu, which was gloriously detonated during the fireworks finale.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” Reborn!

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

It’s not a Disney production, but we have to say we are thrilled to hear that a sequel to Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life is in the works. In what may have been a real e-mail, Jim Parsons (the actor chosen to play George Bailey since the late James Stewart is not currently available) writes:

This is a very exciting project. The biggest concern I had was that a sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life would be some kind of smarmy retread of the original, but after reading the script I can assure you that this is not the case at all. While Capra’s classic dealt with what things would be like if George Bailey had never lived, the sequel is largely concerned with what the world would be like if everyone but George was dead.

After that point, it’s a lot like World War Z, but with a lot more snow, given that it takes place during the holidays. I hate to give anything away, but my favorite scene is when George, set upon by a flood of undead townspeople and convinced that he is in the last moments of his life, runs through Bedford Falls yelling, “Goodbye, movie house! Goodbye, Emporium! See you in Hell, you useless old Building and Loan!”

It’s a Wonderful Death is set for Christmas 2014 release.

Tips from Pixar

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Former Pixar intern Cemma Oats tweeted quite a few insightful glimpses into the world of storytelling before being let go for general unfeeling incompetence. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Computer animated characters are admired more for their resolution than for their resolve.
  2. You have to keep in mind what’s interesting to the audience (explosions), not what’s fun to do as a writer (World of Warcraft).
  3. Trying to make a meaningful point is important, but you won’t see what the story is really about ’til you present it to management. Now rewrite.
  4. There once was ___. Someday ___. Then I ___. Because of that ___. Oh, shoot I ___. Now I have to buy a new ___.
  5. Simplify. Trim. Cut. Kill what you love. It’ll feel like you’re selling your own children for pin money, but it leaves you material for a sequel.
  6. What is your character best at, happiest with? Throw the exact opposite at them. Literally. Like racecars and stuff. With a trebuchet, maybe.
  7. Write a good ending before you worry about the beginning or middle. Really. Nobody cares about the buildup making sense if the ending is awesome!
  8. When you hit your deadline, you’re done. Forget about it even if it’s not perfect. It’d be great if you had more time, but things have to keep moving. There are already vendors out there making the Happy Meal toys.
  9. If you don’t know what to do, write out all the things that absolutely COULDN’T happened next. Then do that. They won’t see it coming.
  10. Pull apart the characters you love. With wolves, maybe.
  11. Think hard before putting it on paper. If you keep it in your head, it will never become reality, but at least nobody can steal it.
  12. Forget the first thing you think of. And the second, and the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. Wait until you think of something you’d never possibly think of. Paradoxically surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Easy going might seem likable but it’s boring to viewers. Nobody remembers Pleasant K. Smellworthy. Everyone remembers Hitler.
  14. What’s the big deal about THIS story? Why are you telling it? What’s the heart of it? It’s probably because of something the marketing department came up with, or because the characters are renderable with the latest software.
  15. If you were a character in this story, what would you do? Probably a lot of screaming, right?
  16. What’s at stake? The character’s future? Your job? The company’s future? What happens if you don’t succeed? How many people’s lives will be destroyed? No pressure, though.
  17. Even if you have to throw it out, no work is ever wasted. You’re not burning ideas; you’re employing recyclers and landfill operators.
  18. Know yourself: the difference between getting coffee because you need caffeine to keep going, and getting coffee because it gets you away from your desk. Either way, good story is mainly Starbucks related.
  19. Coincidences that complicate the story are great; coincidences that solve a problem are unsatisfying; coincidences in unbelievable piles are George Lucas.
  20. Plagiarize: take the best parts of a movie you love and rework them into something that you can say you wrote.
  21. You’ve gotta identify with your characters; imagine yourself in their situation. This is YOUR dream. Everyone else in the story should be doing stuff to make things cool for YOU.
  22. What’s the hook of your story? How can you describe it as the comingling of two Hollywood hits? If you know that, you can get funding and distribution.

New Endings

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Have you ever completed a project and then wished that you could go back and change just one or two things? Sure you have! With that in mind, a Disney employee did a casual survey of her fellow castmembers in the company’s feature and feature animation departments and asked them this simple question: “If you could redo the ending of one classic Disney feature film, how would you change it?”

Interestingly, some suggestions came up over and over. In the table below, we have collected the most popular suggested new ending for a few of Disney’s features.

Film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Original ending The Prince wakes Snow White with a kiss and they live happily ever after
Suggested ending   The Prince wakes Snow White with a kiss and she lives happily ever after with Dopey

Film Pinocchio
Original ending Pinocchio’s wish is granted and he becomes a real boy
Suggested ending Geppetto dies, inspiring Pinocchio to become Bat-boy (because he was built using wood from an old baseball bat)

Film Dumbo
Original ending Dumbo and Timothy save the day and become famous
Suggested ending Dumbo and Timothy fly into the side of a building

Film Bambi
Original ending Bambi becomes the new Prince of the Forest
Suggested ending Bambi organizes the forest creatures into an army and defeats Man

Film Victory Through Air Power
Original ending America defeats Nazi Germany
Suggested ending America defeats Nazi Germany with the help of Captain America

Film Song of the South
Original ending Uncle Remus, Johnny, Ginny, and Toby skip into the distance, singing
Suggested ending Uncle Remus is quietly but thoroughly forgotten by the movie-going public

Film Cinderella
Original ending Cinderella and the Prince live happily ever after
Suggested ending Cinderella and the Prince live happily ever after, but first punish Lady Tremaine by strapping a cage filled with adorable singing mice over her face

Film Treasure Island
Original ending Jim realizes that Long John Silver was his friend all along
Suggested ending The entire movie is remade with Muppets

Film Alice in Wonderland
Original ending Alice wakes up
Suggested ending Alice wakes up surrounded by her friends and relates how she was in Wonderland, "and you, and you, and you were there, but there’s no place like home!"

Film Peter Pan
Original ending The Darling children return home safely from their adventure, but Peter and the Lost Boys return to Neverland
Suggested ending The Darling children return home safely and bring the Lost Boys home with them in hopes of using them to start a singing, dancing, union-organized, musical newspaper-distribution service

Film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Original ending The Nautilus sinks
Suggested ending The Nautilus appears to sink, but then returns as a themepark attraction

Film Lady and the Tramp
Original ending Tramp becomes respectable and moves in with Lady
Suggested ending Lady becomes a sassy street dog and moves in with Tramp

Film Old Yeller
Original ending Old Yeller dies
Suggested ending Old Yeller dies then leaps back to life again for one startling final attack, then dies again — and that’s the end (or is it???)

Film Sleeping Beauty
Original ending Aurora and Prince Phillip live happily ever after
Suggested ending Aurora and Prince Phillip live happily ever after until it is discovered that all the magic used to repeatedly change the color of her dress has rendered it radioactive, causing her to mutate (ironically) into a dragon-looking creature (but Philip loves her anyway)

Film The Shaggy Dog
Original ending Mr. Daniels is declared a hero
Suggested ending Mr. Daniels wins the Westminster Dog Show

Film Darby O’Gill and the Little People
Original ending King Brian wins the battle of wits and everyone lives happily ever after
Suggested ending King Brian wins the battle of wits then makes a fortune as a Lucky Charms spokesleprechaun

Film One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Original ending Roger, Anita, and 101 dalmatians live happily ever after
Suggested ending Stuck in a country house with 101 dogs, Roger and Anita are horrified by the smell and — in the face of a lawsuit over their making a popular song that libels a real individual — start to think that maybe Cruella wasn’t so wrong about the dogs after all

Film The Absent-Minded Professor
Original ending Professor Brainard sells Flubber to the government and he and Miss Carlisle live happily ever after
Suggested ending Professor Brainard sells Flubber to the government and it sets off an arms race that starts World War III

Film The Sword in the Stone
Original ending Arthur becomes king of England
Suggested ending Arthur realizes that politics is not for him and puts the sword back in the rock

Film Mary Poppins
Original ending With Mary Poppins’ work done, she flies off into the distance
Suggested ending With Mary Poppins’ work done, Bert seeks a speech therapist

Film The Jungle Book
Original ending Mowgli discovers girls and leaves the jungle
Suggested ending Mowgli realizes that talking animals are way cooler than some dumb girl

Film The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band
Original ending The Bower Family Band helps the Dakotas achieve statehood
Suggested ending The Bower Family Band is revealed to be ancestors of the Osmonds

Film The Love Bug
Original ending Herbie takes Jim and Carole on their honeymoon
Suggested ending Herbie founds the town of Radiator Springs

Film The Aristocats
Original ending A grand opening celebration is held for the new home for stray cats
Suggested ending Thomas O’Malley has cheezburger on the internets

Film Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Original ending Miss Price defeats the Nazis and gives up witchcraft for good
Suggested ending Miss Price defeats the Nazis and decides to use her powers to solve murders in Cabot Cove, Maine

Film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Original ending Everyone cries because they know that Christopher Robin will grow up one day
Suggested ending Pooh leaves Critter Country forever and the beloved Country Bears return

Film The Rescuers
Original ending Bernard and Miss Bianca head off on another adventure
Suggested ending Bernard and Miss Bianca move to France and open a restaurant

Film The Black Hole
Original ending After envisioning Heaven and Hell, a probe emerges from a white hole
Suggested ending Something that makes sense happens

Film Condorman
Original ending Woody prepares for another assignment as Condorman
Suggested ending Woody, horribly scarred when the Condorboat is rammed, moves into the cellars beneath an opera house in Paris and becomes a patron of the arts

Film Tron
Original ending The MCP is deactivated, Dillinger is revealed as a criminal, and Flynn takes over at ENCOM
Suggested ending Pretty much the same, but with better special effects

Film The Great Mouse Detective
Original ending Basil defeats Ratigan and saves the Queen
Suggested ending Basil and Ratigan plunge over Ratenbach Falls to their (apparent) deaths

Film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Original ending Wayne uses his invention to make a giant dinner for Thanksgiving
Suggested ending Wayne uses his invention to give himself the height of an average adult male

Film The Little Mermaid
Original ending Ariel is permanently made human and she and Eric live happily ever after
Suggested ending Ariel is permanently made human, but ironically Eric had already arranged to be transformed into a merman

Film The Rocketeer
Original ending Cliff beats the Nazis and Peevy considers building a new jetpack
Suggested ending Sequels. Lots and lots of sequels.

Film Beauty and the Beast
Original ending Beast regains human form and he and Belle live happily ever after
Suggested ending Beast stays awesome looking and he and Belle live happily ever after

Film Aladdin
Original ending Genie is set free and uses his limitless power to go on an awesome vacation
Suggested ending Genie is set free and uses his limitless power for world domination

Film The Lion King
Original ending Simba and Nala’s newborn cub is presented, completing the circle of life
Suggested ending Simba gets a weird sense of deja vu after reading Hamlet

Film Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale
Original ending Squanto helps organize the first Thanksgiving
Suggested ending Squanto has his name legally changed to Murray

Film The Santa Clause
Original ending Scott’s family accepts that he really is Santa Claus
Suggested ending Scott’s family has him committed

Film Pocahontas
Original ending Pocahontas saves John Smith and lives happily ever after
Suggested ending Smallpox

Film Toy Story
Original ending Woody and Buzz are horrified to discover that Andy got a puppy for Christmas
Suggested ending Woody and Buzz are horrified to discover that Andy has a girlfriend

Film Muppet Treasure Island
Original ending Jim realizes that Long John Silver was his friend all along
Suggested ending The entire movie is remade as a science fiction story (starring Pigs in Space)

Film The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Original ending Quasimodo leaves the cathedral to live in the outside world
Suggested ending Quasimodo leaves the cathedral and moves into the opera house basement with Condorman

Film Hercules
Original ending Hercules is hailed as a hero and Zeus places a picture of him in the stars
Suggested ending Hercules is hailed as a hero and King Eurystheus presents him with a list of twelve chores he’s been neglecting

Film Mulan
Original ending After saving China, Mulan returns home to seek her own path
Suggested ending After saving China, Mulan accepts a job with the Emperor, brings in massive improvements in the cultural status of women, and, ultimately, paves the way for Communism

Film The Emperor’s New Groove
Original ending Kuzco redeems himself and builds a small summer home on a hill near Pacha’s house
Suggested ending Kuzco and Pacha are forced out of their homes when the neighborhood goes condo and have to move in together, Odd Couple-style.

Film Monsters, Inc.
Original ending It is discovered that laughter is more powerful than screams, solving Monstropolis’ power problems forever
Suggested ending It is discovered that laughter is more powerful than screams, but the discovery is suppressed by "Big Screams"

Film Lilo & Stitch
Original ending Stitch is allowed to stay on Earth with Lilo
Suggested ending Stitch stays on Earth with Lio and runs for Congress

Film Treasure Planet
Original ending Jim realizes that Long John Silver was his friend all along
Suggested ending Jim sits down to think of a fourth way that Disney could remake this story.

Film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Original ending Captain Jack takes over The Black Pearl; Will marries Elizabeth and they live happily ever after (until the next film)
Suggested ending Captain Jack takes over The Black Pearl; Will marries Elizabeth and they are never heard from again

Film Brother Bear
Original ending Kenai goes to live with the bears
Suggested ending Kenai appears in a cameo in the next Spider-Man movie (in Kraven the Hunter’s trophy room)

Film The Haunted Mansion
Original ending Jim Evers drives off across Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
Suggested ending Jim Evers drives into Lake Pontchartrain

Film Home on the Range
Original ending The animals arrive just in time to save the farm
Suggested ending The animals arrive just in time to save the farm, rise up against the humans, a form their own government in which all animals are equal (even though some of them are more equal than others)

Film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Original ending The children return from Narnia, but there are hints that they will be able to return again
Suggested ending The children return from Narnia, but there are hints that they will be able to return six more times

Film Cars
Original ending Lightning McQueen moves his headquarters to Radiator Springs
Suggested ending Lightning McQueen explains how it’s possible to build complex machinery without thumbs

Original ending WALL-E and EVE begin the work of restoring Earth
Suggested ending WALL-E and EVE begin the work of restoring Skynet

Film High School Musical
Original ending Gabriella and Troy win their respective competitions and the entire school joins together for the singingest dancingest celebration ever!
Suggested ending Everyone dies

Film Up
Original ending Carl and Russell live happily ever after
Suggested ending It’s revealed that Ellie, Carl’s wife, is actually still alive and has been secretly masterminding everything behind the scenes with the goal of getting Carl to move her house to Paradise Falls where she plans to start a uranium mine and dominate the world’s nuclear power plants, joined by her new partner The Underminer

Film Brave
Original ending Merida and Elinor have their family bond restored
Suggested ending Merida marries some guy and lives happily ever after

Film Wreck-It Ralph
Original ending The villain is defeated and everyone returns to their own (now upgraded) video games
Suggested ending Felix and Sergeant Calhoun team up, using his mechanical knowledge to create a device capable of bringing people in and out of the digital world and her military expertise to begin an assault on the human universe

Rocketeer Redux

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Fans of 1991’s The Rocketeer are foaming at the forums, atwitter on Twitter, and getting ‘faced on Facebook over rumors that Disney is considering making a sequel to the film.

If online gossip is to be believed (as it obviously should), the film will take place in modern-day Los Angeles, 74 years after the events in the original film. Cliff, a retired former test pilot, spends all his time on the rocking chair on his front porch reminiscing with his grandchildren (and anyone else who will listen) about his adventures. His teenage granddaughter Jenni gets tired of hearing the same old stories and wanders off, only to find Cliff’s old helmet and  jetpack in the attic. A musical and mechanical genius, she modifies the jetpack to comply with modern air-quality regulations and takes to the skies to secretly perform gigs around town and, ultimately, save the country from a reality-show promoter who’s secretly a foreign terrorist!

It has not been decided if the film will focus on Jenni’s musical ambitions or on Cliff looking to relive his past from the comfort of his rocking chair, but in either case The Rockerteer should be out for Christmas in 2014.

Princess Merida at Disneyland

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

During a recent trip to Disneyland, we were headed toward “it’s a small world” in the hope of documenting the new Princess Merida meet-and-greet location that we had heard such wonderful things about. And who should we meet on the way but the Princess herself!

“I’m on me vacation,” said Princess Merida when we asked her what she was doing in the park out of costume. “Me brothers and I are gettin’ a few licks o’ fun before the big premier and it’s off to work again.”

Why was she dressed so differently than we were used to seeing her? “I canna go five steps in my dress from the film without bein’ asked for me autograph,” she said. “I’ve disguised meself as the wee lass from Disney’s G-Force for some peace and anonymity — at least as much as I kin get with these three demons in tow and bloggers as far as the eye can see.”

We certainly understood that! Thank you, Princess Merida, for the lovely chat — and for the autograph!

Brave new rating

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Disney/Pixar is/were very disappointed to learn that the MPAA (Moving Picture Arbiters of America) had assigned Pixar’s new film Brave a rating of PG, which could seriously impact the appeal of the animated feature to preschoolers who wish to attend without their parents.

In their official statement, the MPAA said that that their published guidance for the film would read: “It is recommended that parents exercise discretion. This film has received a PG rating for feminist violence, male cross dressing, weird accents, and brief, gratuitous haggis.”

When contacted for an official statement, the MPAA appeared to believe that Scotland was an imaginary place created by Disney for the purposes of this film. Said their representative, “Children are naturally going to find scenes and images of children defying parental authority upsetting enough without having to set the whole thing in a place where standard laws of normal society are turned on their head and everyone talks like Scrooge McDuck. The film might have garnered a G rating had it taken place somewhere normal like Europe.”

At press time, official reaction from the Scottish ambassador to the United Nations was an unprintable insult followed by a vague threat of invasion.

The Avengers: trivia time!

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Disney’s The Avengers is, by many standards, a successful film. In its honor, we present a number of interesting Avengers-related facts.

  • The Avengers is projected to have larger total gross ticket sales than any previous film (according to Barks Brothers, an almost unbelievable one multiplujillion, nine obsquatumatillion, six hundred twenty-three dollars and sixty-one cents).
  • According to an accountant we met who was wearing Mickey Mouse ears, the opening-weekend earnings for The Avengers came as no surprise to Disney. As he puts it, “The opening weekend for The Avengers was approximately equal to the total of the opening weekends of The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, which is exactly what you’d expect.”
  • Although there will not be any Avengers-related theme-park attractions at Walt Disney World (Universal Studios owns the rights to all Marvel properties in the state of Florida, which is why an alternate version of The Avengers is showing in that state), Disney California Adventure is revamping a currently unused building to rush the opening of a new “Who Wants to be an Avenger?” game show.
  • For the British release of the film, Natasha Romanoff was renamed Emma Peel.
  • Captain America is the oldest of the Avengers, but he was made to look young through the use of CGI.
  • Hawkeye’s character’s name is a nod to director Joss Whedon’s love for the old M*A*S*H television show.
  • Tom Hiddleston revealed that his performance as Loki was in part inspired by his earlier performance as Mr. John Plumptre in Miss Austen Regrets.
  • The Hulk’s roar is an audio combination of the roars of Lou Ferrigno and Thurl Ravenscroft.
  • Samuel L. Jackson — who played Nick Fury — came up with the idea of having “giant mother-effing alien robot snakes invade this mother-effing plane of existence.”
  • In a scene that ended up on the cutting-room floor, Thor is seen casually dressed in an MC Hammer t-shirt (in the same way that Captain America is seen in the film wearing a Jimmy Buffett shirt).
  • As of Wednesday, the Iron Man theme song (“Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an iron can”) is the #1 download on iTunes.
  • Iron Man’s computer JEEVES is voiced by Stephen Fry.
  • The character Black Widow has been directly responsible for more divorces, breakups, and truncated dates than any other character in film history.
  • In a post-credits scene, comic-book legend Stan Lee has a cameo as Thanos.
  • The success of the film has ensured that there will be a sequel. The Avengers Down Under will be released in 2015.


Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The Disneynature film Chimpanzee opened last Friday to rave reviews from primatologists, zookeepers, and banana fanciers across the country. Chimpanzee tells the story of “Oscar the Grouch” — a young chimpanzee who is “grouchy” because a Jaguar ate his mom. It is a beautifully filmed and inspirational movie, culminating in a brilliant, tear-jerking surprise ending involving the (spoiler alert) Statue of Liberty.

Disneynature will continue it’s string of animal documentaries next year with Elephant, which — for budgetary reasons — is being filmed entirely at San Diego Zoo Safari Park (in the tradition of television’s classic Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, filmed entirely in California’s Lion Country Safari. Note that Elephant replaces the previously announced Poodles, which was canceled due to difficulties with finding significant quantities of the title animal in the wild.