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Disneytoon Studios' "The Pirate Fairy" brings Captain Hook, the Croc & Skull Rock into the "Disney Fairies" fold

Disneytoon Studios' "The Pirate Fairy" brings Captain Hook, the Croc & Skull Rock into the "Disney Fairies" fold

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Did you catch the Annies this past Saturday? The members of ASIFA-Hollywood obviously thought a lot of Disney "Frozen ."  For this Walt Disney Animation Studios production wound up coming out on top in five different categories.

  • Best Animated Feature
  • Directing in an Animated Feature Production
  • Music in an Animated Feature Production
  • Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
  • Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production

Pixar Animation Studios also did okay at this year's Annies as well. Scoring three wins for its first-ever TV special, "Toy Story of TERROR!" ...


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  • Directing in an Animated TV / Broadcast Production
  • Storyboarding in an Animated TV / Broadcast Production
  • Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production

... as well as taking home two awards for Pixar's first prequel, "Monsters University ."

  • Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
  • Editorial in an Animated Feature Production


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It was also nice to have ASIFA-Hollywood acknowledge all the great work that Paul Rudish & his team at Disney Television Animation have been doing with those new Mickey Mouse shorts.

  • Character Design in an Animated TV / Broadcast Production
  • Music in an Animated TV / Broadcast Production
  • Editorial in an Animated TV / Broadcast Production

It was also great to have the Annies throw a little love towards Disney Junior's "Sofia the First."


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  • Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Preschool Children

And let's not forget about how -- in a very competitive year -- Disney "Get a Horse!" still managed to come out on top and thus become ...

  • Best Animated Short Subject


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So virtually every arm of the vast Disney / Pixar animation machine got some recognition this past weekend. Every arm, that is, except Disneytoon Studios.

Which is really a shame. Because -- year in & year out -- the folks who work at Disneytoon Studios do some top quality work. But because this is the division of Disney that handles the Company's in-home premieres ... Well, that's why -- to quote the late, great Rodney Dangerfield -- they don't get no respect.

Which -- again -- is a shame. Because if you're one of those animation purists who deliberately steers clear of Disneytoon Studios productions because "The Return of Jafar " left a bad taste in your mouth 20 years ago ... It's definitely time that you gave Disneytoon Studios another chance.


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All rights reserved

Because the crew that works at this state-of-the-art animation studio (which -- FYI -- is just down the street from WDI & DreamWorks Animation) really do believe in their mission statement. Which is to create " ... timeless stories with Disney's most beloved characters."

Take -- for example -- "The Pirate Fairy ." Which will hit store shelves on April 1st of this year. Now depending on whether or not you count "Pixie Hollow Games" (i.e., that half hour-long "Disney Fairies" TV special which premiered on the Disney Channel back in November of 2011), there have been five or six of these in-home premieres built around Tinker Bell-based films.

And let's be honest here ... When you're up to the fifth or sixth installment in a series of in-home premiere films, you're typically running on fumes. Don't believe me? Then go check out "The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island " and "The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock ." To quote one of the more family-friendly lines from 1995's "Get Shorty ," "I've seen better film on teeth."


Copyright 1998 Universal Cartoon Studios.
All rights reserved

Now if you go check out those five (or is it six) "Disney Fairies" in-home premieres ... Well, there's actually kind of a "Benjamin Button " thing going on here. For instead of running out of ideas and/or getting more predictable as these Tinker Bell-based movies went along, these Disneytoon Studios productions actually get better & stronger.

Which brings us back to "The Pirate Fairy." Which -- based on the footage that I've seen so far -- is really shaping up to be the most ambitious one in the "Disney Fairies" series.

Mind you, some of this comes from the main conceit of this Disneytoon Studios production. Which is ... Here, I'll let Peggy Holmes (i.e., the director of "The Pirate Fairy" and the co-director of last year's "Disney Fairies" film, "Secret of the Wings ") explain:


Director Peggy Holmes. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"(As we were first started working on the story for the next 'Disney Fairies' film), we asked ourselves, 'If you live on the island of Neverland, which is where Pixie Hollow is, and you run away from home, where do you go?' "

A meeting that included executive producer John Lasseter and the Disneytoon Studios story trust revealed the answer: Skull Rock. "That led us to the idea of pirates, Captain Hook and a pirate fairy," says Holmes.

That's right. This is the "Disney Fairies" film that finally folds Captain James Bartholomew Hook into this Disneytoon Studios series. Only he's not exactly the Hook that you'll remember from Disney's 1953 "Peter Pan."


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And why is that? Because "The Pirate Fairy" is actually set two decades years before "Peter Pan ." Back when Hook wasn't yet captain of the Jolly Roger. But -- rather -- (SPOILER ALERT) just plain old James, an ambitious cabin boy.

Which -- I'll admit -- sounds like a tough assignment to pull off. But Jenni Magee-Cook -- the producer of "The Pirate Fairy" -- was quick to point out that the crew at Disneytoon Studios did their homework.

"We looked at the model sheets for Captain Hook from the original designs for Walt Disney's 'Peter Pan,'" said Magee-Cook. "We really wanted to suggest classic Hook with moments like one when he puts on his red coat and it flairs when he jumps down."



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Peggy was quick to back up Jenni's claims. Insisting that -- as audiences watch "The Pirate Fairy" -- they'll be able to " ... see glimpses of who (James) is destined to become -- he's ambitious, he's a leader -- it all makes sense. The audience won't feel like they're looking at a different person. (This early incarnation of Hook) will seem familiar."

And speaking of early incarnations ... You can't bring Captain Hook onstage in the "Disney Fairies" film franchise without also introducing James' arch-nemesis, the Croc.


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Though -- as you can see from these images from "The Pirate Fairy" -- it's going to be a while before Croc is up to the task of dehandifying (Is that even a word?) Captain Hook.


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But you want to know the very best part? When it came time to cast just the right actor to voice James, who did Holmes & Magee-Cook reach out to? Tom Hiddleston, who's probably best known to Disney fans as the English actor who's made Loki such a memorable baddie in Marvel's "Thor " movies .

Of course, Peggy & Jenni knew that they had to get someone of equally high stature to play "The Pirate Fairy" 's title character, Zarina (i.e., the mis-understood Dust-keeper fairy who is tricked by James into joining up with the pirates who hang around Skull Rock). Which is why they decided to hire Christina Hendricks of "Mad Men" fame to come voice this character.

And given how visually ambitious this soon-to-be-released Disneytoon Studios production is ... This is one "Disney Fairies" film that you really want to catch on a big screen if you can.


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Which brings me to the very cool bit of news that I learned about just today. That "The Pirate Fairy" is actually going to be shown at El Capitan Theatre starting on February 28th. Now what's great about this 2 & 1/2 week-long run at this historic Hollywood movie palace is that it actually predates "The Pirate Fairies" in-home premiere's release to stores by a full month.

So if you're one of these people who just has to be first to see everything, give some serious thought to going to check out "The Pirate Fairy" when it bows at the El Capitan later this month. Because you just won't believe how good this particular Disneytoon Studios production looks up there on the big screen.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And speaking of serious thought ... Here's hoping that -- when Annie Awards time rolls around again next year -- ASIFA-Hollywood remembers to show Disneytoon Studios some love. Because it's really high time that the this arm of the Disney / Pixar animation complex finally got some respect.

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  • " dehandifying (Is that even a word?)"

    It wasn't before, but "behanding" was.

  • I've mostly written off Disneytoons for all of the god-awful DTV sequels they made. The sad thing is Return of Jafar is one of the better ones comparatively... Not saying this new flick won't be any good but let's be honest Disneytoon's track record is the utter definition of sub-par mediocrity at its absolute worst.

  • I'm looking forward to "The Pirate Fairy." It was very cool to hear about it at the animation presentation at last year's D23 Expo. I loved the song sequence they showed. Even though it was just in story reels, it was a great song, and I can imagine how cool the finished sequence will look.

    The Tinker Bell movies are generally good films. (I also enjoyed Planes, and I'm looking forward to "Fire & Rescue") It's good to know that their films are starting to get the "big screen" treatment.

    I believe that DisneyToon is a good animation studio. There is no reason to steer clear of their films. (Especially since now they focus on spin-offs and original films). It's important to note that John Lasseter is the executive producer of all of their films (given the fact that DisneyToon is a division of Walt Disney Animation Studios.)

    Thanks for giving DisneyToon Studios some love Jim.

  • "I've mostly written off Disneytoons for all of the god-awful DTV sequels they made.....Not saying this new flick won't be any good but let's be honest Disneytoon's track record is the utter definition of sub-par mediocrity at its absolute worst."

    No offense, but that is a very poor attitude to have. That was then, this is now. The management is different now, so your statement is moot. John Lasseter is the executive producer of all of DisneyToon's films. Even if their newer films aren't your cup of tea, their intentions are good. Quality is number one for the studio.

    John Lasseter believes that quality is the best business plan. He is the chief creative officer of Pixar, Disney Animation, and DisneyToon. He also directed Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Cars, and Cars 2.

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