You've heard about Monday morning quarterbacking? Well, welcome to Thursday night truth-telling. Where we try and sort out what's currently being said Disney's upcoming animated release, "Chicken Little."The rumor mill really kicked into overdrive late last night when Jerry Beck, the highly respected animation historian, posted a brief item on CartoonBrew.com which read:
" ... word has spread that director Mark Dindal has quit (Walt Disney) studio - two days before ("Chicken Little") opens."
But then -- toward the middle of the morning -- Jerry suddenly posted an update to his original item. Which suggested that Mark hadn't actually left Walt Disney Feature Animation. But -- rather -- that Dindal has just left the country to begin the European leg of "Chicken Little" 's promotional tour. And then -- just before noon -- all mention of Mark Dindal and/or his possible problems with the Walt Disney Company disappeared off of CartoonBrew. com. Both items that Beck had previously posted were pulled down without comment or explanation. Hoping to get to the bottom of this story, I sent an e-mail off to Dennis Rice, head of publicity at Walt Disney Studios. Asking if there was any truth to the rumor that Mark Dindal was no longer with WDFA. Earlier this evening, I received this terse reply: "Totally untrue." So, okay. That's one "Chicken Little" rumor that has been debunked. Which is great.But what about all those other stories that are currently swirling around about this new animated feature? About how high ranking Disney Studios executives are already supposedly scrambling for cover? Looking for someplace to hide -- more importantly, someone to blame -- in the event that this new animated feature under-performs at the box office this coming weekend.
Right now, the "blame game" (I.E. Finding which studio exec will actually take the fall should "Chicken Little" fail to meet expectations) is allegedly already well underway on the Burbank lot. With the top guys at Disney Feature Animation frantically pointing fingers at Thomas Schumacher (I.E. The former head of WDFA. More importantly, the guy who actually greenlit "Chicken Little" back in 2001) and Michael Eisner (The company's recently departed CEO. Who inexplicably had the film-makers make many changes to "Chicken Little" while this movie was in production. Among then ordering that the film's title character be changed from a girl to a boy).
Since "Chicken Little" is bowing in 3654 theaters nationwide, studio execs are still hopeful that this CG animated feature will pull in more than $20 million during its opening weekend. But -- as negative advance review after negative advance review continue to roll in for this Mark Dindal movie, those hopes have begun to dim somewhat. So now (I guess) it's all up to the movie-going public. Will they actually embrace "Chicken Little"? Or will the sky really fall on Disney execs come Monday morning when the film's final box office tallies come in?