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Toon Tuesday: Wanna see what the first few minutes of "Enchanted" looks like?

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Toon Tuesday: Wanna see what the first few minutes of "Enchanted" looks like?

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Given that "The Game Plan" was No. 1 at the box office for the second weekend in a row, I'd imagine that Oren Aviv (i.e. the president of production at Walt Disney Pictures), is feeling pretty happy right about now.

Of course, that's probably because this Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson comedy was the very first thing that Oren greenlit when he first came to power back in July of 2006. And even though this Andy Fickman film got fairly miserable reviews (Rotten Tomatoes only gives this Walt Disney Pictures release a 30% freshness rating) ... At this point, that doesn't really matter.

Why For? Because -- given that box office numbers for "The Game Plan" only fell off by 29% between Weekend No. 1 & Weekend No. 2 of its domestic release ... Well, that means that this sports comedy has some great word-of-mouth going for it. That people who caught this film during its first week in release then went and told friends & family that "I really enjoyed that movie that the Rock just made for Disney. You should go see it too."

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Which was just the sort of audience reaction that Aviv was hoping for. Given that -- in one of the very first interviews that he did after being elevated to president of production at Walt Disney Pictures -- Oren was quoted as saying “... I want to make movies like ‘The Pacifier.’ ” ... Well, it's not like the guy hasn't been upfront about the sorts of pictures that he pictures the Mouse Factory making from here on in.

Though -- the way I hear it -- Aviv isn't actually using that 2005 Vin Diesel comedy as a template for what he wants to do at Disney in the future. From what company insiders have been telling me, Oren's supposedly looking to replicate the sorts of pictures that the studio used to produce back in 1987 and 1988. You know? Lots of affordable family comedies like "Three Men and a Baby" as well as the occasional high profile, big budget project like "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

Which brings us to "Enchanted." Another project that Aviv personally put into production. All because Oren felt it was very important that Walt Disney Pictures show the world that it could still make movies like "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty & the Beast" and "Aladdin" (Or -- for that matter -- like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty").

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Now it's important to understand here that Walt Disney Animation Studios didn't actually do any work on "Enchanted." The eight minutes of traditional animation that bookend this Kevin Lima movie were produced by James Baxter Animation (Though -- that said -- WDAS veteran Andreas Deja did work on a few scenes for this film)

But given the limited amount of animation there is in "Enchanted" (More importantly, given how important it is to establish how the animated world operates before the action all shifts over the live action world), this Walt Disney Pictures release really hits the ground running.

As "Enchanted" opens, we discover Giselle in her cottage deep in the woods of Andalasia. Where this pretty young maiden is interacting with her animal friends.

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

These creatures bring her objects like acorns, flowers and twigs -- even rare jewels ...

 Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

... -- just so Giselle can then create a statue version of her one true love. Literally the man that this maid has seen in her dreams.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Pip (i.e. Giselle's talking chipmunk pal) isn't entirely convinced that this statue project is such a hot idea. Which is why he asks the maiden "Honey, do you really think your 'dream boy' exists?" Giselle responds that "I know that he's out there somewhere."

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

And this heartfelt conversation would have probably continued. If not for the 20-foot-tall troll who first peers into Giselle's cottage ...

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

... and then rips the roof off of the building. All because this hideous forest creature now wants to consume the fair maiden.

 Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Pip tries to fight off the troll. But he's no match for this enormous beast.

 Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Luckily for Giselle, Prince Edward (i.e. heir to the throne of Andalasia) is riding through the forest just as this troll is about eat this "girl yummy." So Edward comes to Giselle's rescue ...

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

... And then ... Well, if you've seen that great "Enchanted" trailer that Walt Disney Pictures put together, then you already know that Giselle gets pushed into a wishing well ...

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

... Which then transports this fair maid to our world. Which (obviously) is very different than Andalasia. And yet -- at the same time -- seems very familiar to Giselle.

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Look, if you'd like to learn more about "Enchanted" ... Well, this film's official website has just started to come to life this week. And if you head over there right now, you'll be able to view two behind-the-scenes features. One that talks with the cast & the film-makers about the actual making of the movie, while the other is an interview with Susan Sarandon. Where she talks about how much fun it was to play "Enchanted" 's villain, Queen Narissa.

Anyway ... That's a quick look at the first few minutes of Walt Disney Pictures' big holiday release for 2007. So what do you folks think? Could "Enchanted" really be Disney's next "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"? As in: The film that gets audiences excited about traditional animation again.


After this article was originally posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007, I actually got an e-mail from Oren Aviv himself. Which read:

Dear Jim:

Thank you so much for writing your story on “Enchanted” today. It’s a movie we’re very proud of, and is a perfect example of the types of films we will continue to make at Disney. You mistakenly gave me credit for greenlighting the film, however. The film was in fact greenlit by Dick Cook and Nina Jacobson in 2005. Special credit should also be given to the outstanding creative executive on my team, Jason Reed, who has been passionately and tirelessly shepherding this project over the last 4 years, and who deserves major props for his accomplishments on the film. Of course, the ultimate credit for the film turning out so well goes to an amazing group of individuals both behind and in front of the camera, specifically our very talented director Kevin Lima, who brought to life a fantastic script by Bill Kelly… to producers Barry Josephson and Chris Chase…to the perfect performances by Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Susan Sarandon and James Marsden… to the amazing music from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz… and to the hundreds of exceptional people who are responsible for the film, which combines all of our company’s strengths with a mix of traditional 2-D animation, CG animation, live action and visual effects. We are truly privileged to be working with this high caliber of talent.

Thanks again for your “Enchanted” piece, and I’d appreciate it if you could set the record straight going forward.

Best regards,

Oren Aviv

An executive who -- rather than hogging all of the credit for himself -- insists on others receiving recognition for all their hard work?! That's almost unheard of in Hollywood ... But also kind of refreshing, don't you think?  

Anywho ... I just thought that I'd share that e-mail with JHM readers. Just so you guys can then get some sense of the kind of guy who's now driving the bus over at the Walt Disney Pictures.

Your thoughts?

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  • I like what I've seen.  I hope to see more.  

    That's how buzz begins.

  • Cant wait to see it. Seems like a project Walt might have approve himself .

    Watched the trailer yesterday in the Jungle Book DVD and it was amazing!

  • Ponsonboy Britt said: "Yes, this is a concern I share too. The ironic humour, the cutting off of a song as it's just starting - these are ploys generally used by people who consider themselves too hip to really like Disney musicals. I will likely see "Enchanted", but it is more because I am starved for seeing new Disney traditional animation than I am in seeing what could be too much of a parody of the genre for my liking."

    I was worried about that at first too. What I've come to think, is that "Enchanted" will begin as a parody, but will restore what "Shrek" and its many imitators stole: Old-fashioned storytelling, musicals, fairytales. Maybe I'm being too optimistic but I hope that this film's message is that its okay to view the world magically and I could realisitically see them taking that route. I can't see Kevin Lima, who directed "Tarzan" and "The Goofy Movie", animated for "Oliver and Company" and "The Little Mermaid", and created the story for "Aladdin", poking fun in the cynical way "Shrek" did. I think this movie is setting up success for "The Princess and the Frog", or at least trying, and other projects like it. Hopefully it will raise awareness that these type of films aren't around anymore and are missed.

  • I hardly think 8 minutes of animation (not even done in house BTW) will make or break Feature Animation's future. And I wouldn't even try and compare this to "Roger Rabbit" one of my all time favorites, since that was a ground-breaking use of live action and classic animation before all the current advances with CG and the like. If anything, "The Simpsons Movie" showed that 2D is still a viable draw (even thought this feature had a built-in audience - myself included).

    Interesting comment about The Rock's flick. When I saw the TV ads the first thing I thought of was "The Pacifier II". Same formula: big macho/masculine charater pressed into handling the mundane everyday things most parents face. One side note though, even though its held #1 for two weeks, there is absolutely no competition out there right now and the numbers aren't that fantanstic (its gross is lower than Pacifier in the same time frame)

  • I'm also willing to bet that Enchanted is an "anti-Shrek" feature. One that tries to steer the audience away from the smart-alecky stuff, which is already running its course.

    What little animation we get in the main feature should be compensated in the Goofy short that precedes it.

  • Off topic, but international numbers are in for last weekend.  Ratatouille opened huge in germany (making in one weekend almost as much as Cars made in its entire run there) and had a $19M weekend overseas.  The german opening was even better than the opening in France, where it has gone on to make over 63 million so far.  It still has yet to open in Italy and the UK, where it has a good shot at similarly big numbers.

    At this point, it only lags Cars by 12 million worldwide, which it could make by the end of next weekend.

    Just a heads up for Jim so he can be ready with his "Oops, I Was Wrong About Ratatouille" article.

  • I love how no one is really giving any REAL credit to the people who REALLY did the work on the animation in this project. The folks at James Baxter Animation are responsible for the images you posted and I didn't see Mr. Aviv mention him once in his letter. Yes, there were a lot of people involved in the project but just as in ALL of the rest of the recent hand drawn Disney films, the people who REALLY deserve the artistic credit get overlooked. Jim Hill DID slightly mention the studio but i think that more needs to be said about the quality of work they did. Anything that gets said about the look of the animation (both good AND bad) needs to be directed at the true artists and craftsmen that brought it to the screen. It gets real old seeing producers and money men continue to reap the benefits and credit for this art form when the true "passion" and "shepherding" comes from the people behind the pencils and paper. In this art form, i have realized, credit is RARELY given where it is due. If anything is being 'passed on' to the next generation of hand drawn films, its the fact that the artists will continue to be stepped on order for management to rise. Let no one be deceived, nothing has changed at Disney. Same mistakes, different year.

  • elevatorphone said: "Anything that gets said about the look of the animation (both good AND bad) needs to be directed at the true artists and craftsmen that brought it to the screen."

    Alright, it that vein, here's my comment directed at James Baxter Animation's craftsmen.  I don't like the look of it.  It looks Don Bluthy to me, and I really despised that period of Disney/Don Bluth Studios animation.  Y'all can disagree, but I really am not a fan of the style, and I'm not planning on rushing out to see the movie, partly because of that, and partly because of the above-mentioned laughing at the characters, not with.

  • I, for one, like the look of the animation and I'm sure I'm going to wish there was more of it.  For the record, I always liked Bluth's animation and this *does* remind me of it and that's a good thing.  Bluth never really had the people behind him to reach his potential, but when he gave it his all, his stuff looked great.  There's a reason "Dragon's Lair" is considered an all-time great video game and it ain't because of the gameplay.

    And as far as the "laughing at" compared to "laughing with" question, as near as I can tell, there's only one character being "laughed at", the Prince, and a comic relief character is par for the course for this kind of film.  Giselle seems to be portrayed very sympathetically and "Enchanted" doesn't seem to be treading too much "Shrek" territory.

    Oh, and I'm not sure the minutia-obsessed people at AICN are the target audience here, either, so a negative look over there isn't going to impact the real movie-going public.

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