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Don't toy with me! An extra-long hair-of-the-dog edition of Why For

Jim Hill

Jim's musings on the history of and rumors about movies, TV shows, books and theme parks including Disneyland, Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Don't toy with me! An extra-long hair-of-the-dog edition of Why For

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Lucie S. wrote in to ask:

Enough with all the "Roger Rabbit" stories. What I really want to know about is what Disney Feature Animation is going to do after "Meet the Robinsons." What's happening with "American Dog" ...  


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

... and "Rapunzel Unbraided"? And are the rumors that I've been hearing true? Is John Lasseter actually revived the "Toy Story 3" project?

Your wish is my command, Lucie.

Let's start with "American Dog," shall we?


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

What follows is a selection of photographs that Nancy took back at SIGGRAPH 2005. Which shows some pre-production art as well as stills from a few CG tests for this Chris Sanders film.


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

"American Dog" is the story of Henry, a dog who stars in a popular television series ...


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... Where each week this Hollywood hound has all sorts of James Bond-like adventures ...


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... But Henry always manages to come through unscathed. Thanks to his TV show's carefully written scripts as well as his dedicated stunt team.

But one night, during an on-location shoot, one stunt goes horribly wrong. Henry gets knocked out. And when he finally comes to, this diminutive dog finds himself on a moving train ...


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

... Thousands of miles away from Tinseltown ...


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... in the middle of America ...


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After years of being treated like a celebrity, being waited on hand & foot, Henry doesn't quite know how to get along in the real world ...


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... How to interact with real people ...


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Mind you, not everyone that Henry encounters when he's stranded 'way out in middle America could be called normal. Take -- for example -- that over-sized radioactive rabbit ...


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... or that one-eyed cat with the eye patch.


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As it turns out, the rabbit and the cat have access to a classic old car ...


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And Henry cons these two into driving him back out to Hollywood. Where this dog can resume his plush celebrity lifestyle ...


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That is -- of course -- if Henry can actually manage to stay inside the car ...


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... or manage to survive the drive back to Tinseltown.


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I know, I know. This doesn't sound like your typical Disney Feature Animation production. But let's remember that this is a Chris Sanders film. And Sanders is the guy who brought us the quirky "Lilo & Stitch." So we can expect that "American Dog" will have the same sort of left-handed charm.

As for the performers that Disney has hired to provide voices for this particular film ... Though the Mouse has yet to officially confirm any of this information, Roy Disney -- at this year's Cartoons on the Bay animation festival -- let slip that John Travolta, Thomas Haden Church and Mario Cantone have been signed to do vocals for the trio that makes that fateful roadtrip back to Hollywood.

And speaking of things that were recently let slip ...


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Back in July, while Tim Allen was out doing publicity for "Zoom," this sitcom vet mentioned that work was already underway on "Toy Story 3."

That's right. The project that John Lasseter made a very big show of shutting down earlier this year (Back when "TS3" was going to be produced by Circle 7 Studios) has quietly been turned back on. Only this time around, this sequel will be produced up in Emeryville and that whole Buzz-Lightyear-has-been-recalled-to-Tawain storyline ...


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

... has itself been recalled. In favor of a new storyline that Lasseter has supposedly created, which will put a nice cap on the "Toy Story" trilogy.

If all goes according to plan, "American Dog" will be Walt Disney Pictures' animated release for the Summer of 2008. While "Toy Story 3" will be the company's big holiday release for that same year.

As for 2009, Disney's  long-in-development "Rapunzel" ...


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

... looks like it finally officially begin production sometime later this year.


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Glen Keane recently showed John Lasseter the first act of this new feature-length fairytale ...


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

... and John reportedly told Glen that the first 20 minutes of this film was the strongest opening he'd ever seen for a Disney animated feature.


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FYI: Disney's "Rapunzel" is no longer a "Shrek" - like project, full of pop culture-related gags.


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

No, in its latest incarnation, "Rapunzel" is now a straight-forward fairytale ...


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

... loaded with magical creatures like pixies and sprites.


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

Of course, this time around, all of the sprites and fairies will be done with CG.

According to people that I've spoken with at WDFA, most of the staffers there are thrilled that "Rapunzel" will soon be going into production. Given the years that this project has been in development and the millions that have been poured into R & D ...


Copyright 2005 Disney Enterprises

... this Glen Keane film will not only be Disney's most beautiful looking CG project, it will also have a solid, emotionally-based stories.

And speaking of stories ... I've finally come to the end of today's tale. Here's hoping that you enjoyed taking a look at all of this development art & CG tests for "American Dog" and "Rapunzel."

Have a great weekend, okay?

 

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  • Positive comments from JHM for a change.
  • I'm worried American Dog will be American Cars...  Fish out of water in middle america... hmmm.
  • I'm so excited!  I've been anticipating "American Dog" from the get-go, and have not worried once about how it'll turn out.  "Rapunzel", on the other hand, I have been worried about.  I've been a big Glen Keane fan since I was 4 or 5, and for once I was having trouble trusting his work.  Thanks, Mr. Lasseter, for straightening out this film!  Now Rapunzel, and hopefully not "Claire" will be a great addition to the Disney Princess line.  I can't wait for all three of these movies (I wonder what new characters, if any, will be introduced in "Toy Story 3".  And, thanks for all the pictures, Jim and Nancy!  I thought I had seen all that was out there, but no!  You've hid away these pictures for over a year!  Which was a good thing!  This article made my year.  Thanks!
  • It's all so exciting, Disney's really getting it's groove back and I can't wait to see the other studios (ahem, Dreamworks) shake in their boots when Rapunzel comes out and they realise how poor their films have been. God bless Iger and Lassetter.
  • datbates said:
    "I'm worried American Dog will be American Cars...  Fish out of water in middle america... hmmm."
    blackcauldron85 said:
    "I'm so excited!  I've been anticipating 'American Dog' from the get-go, and have not worried once about how it'll turn out."
    ---
    Well, I was worried:  I've never been a fan of Chris Sanders (L&S Movie needed one more script redraft, to figure out what the heck it was doing, and just what -was- that weird-looking Jumba-experiment puppy doing in "Mulan"?)  So I wasn't amazed or thrilled that the boardroom had handed him the money for a second pet project without asking questions...Say, isn't that what happened to Mark Dindal after "Emperor's New Groove"?  ;)
    The character sounded like the dog from "Family Guy", and the early descriptions lost me at "Oversized radioactive rabbit"--But from the looks of it, if they are playing it safe with "Cars Jr.", well..."safe" is better than "self-indulgent".  Whew, we've actually got a plot, after all.

    As for Rapunzel, it's becoming more and more clear that the Old School is enjoying being able to use their lead "old-style" project to ram the earlier "new regime" back down its own throat, just for the sake of being a poor winner, now the Old Stuff is cool again--"How about *this* new project change?..90's enough for ya??"  I'm so lovin' it.  :)
    Toy Story 3, though, I'm going to need some information:  I keep hearing about how Lasseter wanted to give Cowgirl Jessie her own movie...Although that was back before the peace talks, and may have just been a tantrum against the in-house "Recalled" thing, but he's just unhinged enough to actually do it.
  • DerekJ said:
    "and just what -was- that weird-looking Jumba-experiment puppy doing in "Mulan"?"

    I've always thought Little Brother is cute!  And, Chris Sanders *did* work on him, so I guess he has his style, but I don't think he looks like one of Jumba's experiments!
  • Yeah, I was thinking the same thing... I fully expect that, by the end of the movie, this dog decides that he really likes middle America better than Hollywood.
  • American Dog looks great.  Chris Sanders has a more modern, sly sense of humor.  Lilo and Stitch was somewhat the cartoon version of Arrested Development.  As opposed to, say, Shrek, which was kind of the cartoon version of a Wayans Brothers movie.
  • "I'm worried American Dog will be American Cars...  Fish out of water in middle america... hmmm."

    Exactly what I was thinking.

    "FYI: Disney's "Rapunzel" is no longer a "Shrek" - like project, full of pop culture-related gags."

    Thank God! When you really think about it, is Shrek even worth coyping?

    I'm very much looking forward to seeing Rapunzel, even if it's three long years off. The screen captures has some of the best-looking computer art to date.

    As for Toy Story 3, I just hope they don't go the way of DreamWorks and start announcing MORE sequels before this one is even done. They could've just stopped at TS2 and it would've been fine.
  • I wouldn't get my hopes up about seeing Toy Story 3 anytime soon...certainly not by 2008.  The next project after Rataouille is something called W.A.L.E...which will be Pixar's 2008 release...TS3 could see a 2009 slot....but perhaps not..

  • I don't think American Dogs' similarity to Cars is going to be much of a hindrance. For one thing, Cars own formula of a cocky guy who learns about friendship etc is very similar to Emperor's New Groove and yet no distinctions were made between the two. Another thing to consider is that American Dog seems to be more of an 'adventure' film whereas Cars essentially took place in one location for most of it's running time.
  • American Dog has a pretty good plot going for it at first.  when the rabbit and pirate cat came in I became a little lost.

    Rapunzel looks VERY good.  I am so glad it is not going to be a Shrek knock off.  Shrek may be funny, but it is not timeless with all the current pop culture stuff.  I look forward to seeing this movie.

    Toy Story 3 - I liked the recall plot, so it will be interesting to see the new direction.  I wonder if there will be some mention of what happened to Slinky dog.
  • Frankenollie said:
    "I don't think American Dogs' similarity to Cars is going to be much of a hindrance. For one thing, Cars own formula of a cocky guy who learns about friendship etc is very similar to Emperor's New Groove and yet no distinctions were made between the two."
    ---
    Probably because ENG didn't take place in classic old convertibles along iconic middle-America highways of Route 66...  :)

    And the only good thing Lasseter did have to say about Toy Story 3 was Pixar's idea to "wrap up" the story with what eventually happens to the toys now that Andy's growing up--
    Originally, that was going to be their contribution to rescue Disney's "recalled" storyline at the end with a little bit of Pixar cuddliness...But even if they're not going with Lasseter's "spinoff" idea, sounds like they might be thinking the Final Chapter might be a good main plot idea after all--Wouldn't worry about that TS4, semaj.
  • Wow, I'm absolutely loving the gorgeous shots of both American Dog and Rapunzel. The animation in both films looks very distinct from the uninspired CGI designs we're seeing nowadays from wannabe animation studios (Hoodwinked, anyone??). Cars' love for a long-lost Middle America might have contributed to its poorer overseas performance, but I think the focus on Americanized NASCAR racers, as well as the fact that machines aren't nearly as lovable contributed to that as well. AD features cute animals, and who around the world doesn't love cute animals?! I mean, that pirate kitty looks like something out of a Japanese anime! I think AD will fare very well. And I'm glad to Disney's return to magical fairy tales and eschewing  hipper-than-thou pop culture gagfests. There's something magical and timeless about fairy tales, and those are traits that have always characterized Disney!
  • As a mother of a 4 y.o. boy who loves and lives for Buzz Lightyear, I think that a new TS3 movie would be great.  But the time it takes to get the movie out may be to late and he may be over Buzz by then.  But to wrap up the story line would be a great idea, long enough for a trilogy but not so long that it gets worn out.  In my opinion, most sequels are for money making and tarnish the original (TS2 being an exception).  I liked Shrek 2 but not as much as the original.  I think that Chris Sanders did a great job with Lilo & Stitch.  I didn't think I was going to like L&S and it turned out to be one of my favorites.  I would be willing to bet that he can work his magic again and American Dog will be a good movie.  I enjoy taking my kids to see a movie that they will enjoy and understand and I won't have to worry and cringe when I hear something off color or just plain crude/rude.
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