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Monday Mouse Watch: Looking forward to Disney’s “Prince of Persia” and Pixar’s “Day & Night”

Monday Mouse Watch: Looking forward to Disney’s “Prince of Persia” and Pixar’s “Day & Night”

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ShoWest is traditionally this forward-looking event. Where all the Studios come to hype the movies they’ll be releasing later this summer and/or next year.

But this time around, John Lasseter and Jerry Bruckheimer took forward-looking to a whole new level. With Bruckheimer using his Lifetime Achievement as an excuse to muse about whether his career might be coming to a close and Lasseter talking about how Pixar will continue on long after he’s gone.

First let’s talk about Jerry … Who – when asked about what it was like to get a Lifetime Achievement award from ShoWest – joked that “ … whenever you get one of these, you begin to wonder if it’s the beginning of the end.”

Nicholas Cage & Alfred Molina in "The Sorcerers Apprentice"
(L to R) Nicholas Cage and Alfred Molina from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
Photo by Abbott Genser. Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
And Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Which is pretty funny talk from a guy who’s got two huge movies – Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – being released this summer, a highly anticipated sequel – “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” – that begins shooting in June and yet another possible franchise for the Mouse House – “The Lone Ranger” – in active development.

When asked if “Prince of Persia” was a deliberate attempt to launch another “Pirates” –like phenomenon, Bruckheimer was quick to point out the differences between these two projects.

“ ‘Prince’ does have the same sense of fun that “Pirates’ had. So it’s kind of in the same wheelhouse. But these are two distinctly different animals,” Jerry explained. “ ‘Prince’ is a big romantic adventure set in the 6th century. It’s far more serious, much more plot-driven than ‘Pirates’ was.”

Jake Gyllenhaal& Emma Arterton in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time"
(L to R) Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Arterton in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time."
Photo by Andrew Cooper.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
And Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc. All Rights Reserved

When asked if shooting 3D was ever considered for “Prince of Persia,” Bruckheimer was quick to dismiss that idea.

“I don’t know. With all that sand, I don’t think that it was ever an option,” Jerry continued. “As for the next ‘Pirates’ movie … We haven’t decided if we’re going to shoot that in 3D yet.”

Which might come as a surprise. Since so many of the other Studios now seem so eager to get in on the 3D gold rush. But to Bruckheimer’s way of thinking, the format that you shoot your film in ultimately doesn’t matter. It all comes down to story.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Photo by Andrew Cooper.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
And Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc. All Rights Reserved

“If we fail as storytellers, the medium doesn’t matter,” Bruckheimer said.“

This sentiment was echoed by John Lasseter. Who – when he came on stage at ShoWest to accept its Big 10 Award (in recognition of Pixar’s unending string of box office successes that – to date – have earned $5.5 billion at the worldwide box office) – first thanked the exhibitors for their continuing support of this Emeryville-based animation studio (“Without you, our audience could not see our work” and then praised Pixar’s partners at Disney (“They keep making us a better studio”).

And then Lasseter began talking about the future. Because – as John succinctly put it – “ … Pixar will continue beyond its founders.”

John Lasseter accepts Showest's Big 10 Award
John Lasseter accepting Showest's Big 10 Award.
Photo by Eric Charbonneau / Le Studio / Wireimage 

At first Lasseter did so jokingly. Insisting that Pixar “ … will not stop at 10. We’ll continue to make great movies so that ShoWest will be forced to keep on inventing new awards for us.”

But then John went on to talk about how serious Pixar is about talent development. How they hope to keep their reputation for great storytelling alive by using that animation studio’s Shorts program as a proving ground for new directors. Which then led up to Lasseter’s introduction of Pixar’s newest short, “Day & Night”

John didn’t skimp on his praise for this Teddy Newton film (“I think that this short is one of the cleverest, most innovative things that Pixar has ever done“). And after it was screened in 3D, Lasseter commented on how ShoWest turned out to be the perfect place for “Day & Night” to have its world premiere (“It showed Vegas, a drive-in movie, girls in bikinis out lounging by the pool” …)

John Lasseter introduces the world premiere of the Pixar short "Night & Day"
John Lasseter introducing the world premiere of "Day & Night"
Photo by Eric Charbonneau / Le Studio / Wireimage 

Which – I know – doesn’t sound like the elements you typically expect to see in a Pixar short. But don’t let John’s description throw you. Because “Day & Night” is a real charmer. A film that literally works on two levels.

To explain: The two Schmoo-like characters that drive the plot of this particular Pixar picture are windows into our world at different times of day. When the daytime Schmoo first gets up for the day and begins walking, we see this image of a group of early morning joggers running through a meadow projected on the screen that is his body. And then when we see this same Schmoo stopping to relieve himself as part of his early morning routine, we get this brief glimpse of a waterfall rolling over some rocks projected on the lower half of his body.

You get the key concept now, right? That what’s shown on the screen that is this Schmoo’s body reinforces and/or comments on the action of the short itself. So you’re constantly dealing with all these rapidly changing images that are being projected within the Schmoos’ bodies as well as the action of the Schmoos themselves.

The title card for Pixar's latest animated short "Night & Day"
Copyright 2010 Disney Pixar. All Rights Reserved 

Trust me, folks. The above bare-bones description doesn’t do "Day & Night” justice. Teddy Newton has crafted a sweet little short here that actually carries a pretty important message (i.e. That you should always keep yourself open to having new experiences.  As well as how important it is to sometimes see the world through someone else’s gut … er … eyes).

So there you go, folks. Out of last week’s forward-looking events at ShoWest, you now have something to look forward to when Pixar’s newest short (which uses 3D in an extremely innovative way) begins screening in front of “Toy Story 3” this June.

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