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Another Monday Mélange

Jim Hill starts the week off with some Disney related news, including what Pixar may be looking for in order to extend its current deal with the Mouse House, a brief desciption of “Cars” ‘s plot, an update on Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Autopia” as well as revealing what sort of stage show cruisers can expect to see when the “Disney Magic” makes its inaugural West Coast voyage next summer.



To the surprise of almost no one, “The Incredibles” continues

to perform mightily. This Pixar Animation Studios film pulled in an estimated

$51 million at the box office. Which was more than double what its CG

competition — Warner Brothers’ much hyped “The Polar Express”

— made over that same three day period (A relative paltry $23.5 million.

Which suggests that this ground-breaking Robert Zemekis film may have

some real problems recovering its reported $165 million production costs).

Anyway … Given that “The Incredibles” has (to date) grossed

an estimated $144 million during its initial domestic release, we can

now expect that the financial press will once again begin to sing the

same old song. About how foolish it is for Michael Eisner not to bend

to Steve Jobs’ will. How Disney’s CEO should do everything within his

powers to try & persuade Pixar to renew its co-production & distribution

deal with the Walt Disney Company.

Well … In the past, Eisner has alluded to the fact that he’s made numerous

attempts to appease Pixar. That he’s put deals on the table that — to

be frank — Disney’s stockholders would have crucified him for. If the

terms for those proposed deals had leaked out, that is.

But Jobs has rejected all of these offers. Not just because Steve personally

dislikes Michael. But — rather — because the Walt Disney Company has

flat-out refused to give up control of the one thing that Pixar’s CEO

truly covets. And that’s the ownership rights to the seven films that

Disney & Pixar have produced together — 1995’s “Toy Story,”

1998’s “A Bug’s Life,” 1999’s “Toy Story II,” 2001’s

“Monsters, Inc.,” 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” 2004’s “The

Incredibles” and 2005’s “Cars.”

You see, right now, this seven titles are co-owned by Pixar Animation

Studios and the Walt Disney Company. Which means that these two corporations

have to split all the profits from these projects — be they from the

films’ theatrical releases, DVD sales, CD-Rom games, theme park attractions

or toys — right down the middle.

And — as it stands now — there’s no expiration date of this co-ownership

deal. Which means that Disney & Pixar could be joined at the hip (Or

should I say “at the wallet”?) for decades yet to come.

And Steve … Well, as anyone who’s even remotely familiar with Mr. Jobs’

career will tell you, Steve’s not really into sharing. Jobs would genuinely

prefer it if he was the one who was calling the shots about Pixar was

going to do with all the previously produced titles in its film library.

Whereas Eisner … Well, given that the Walt Disney Company continues

to make tens of millions of dollars annually off of Mickey Mouse, a character

that made his big screen debut back in November of 1928 … I guess you

can understand why Michael is reluctant to give up the corporation’s co-ownership

rights of sure-to-be evergreen characters like Woody, Buzz, Sully, Nemo

& Mr. Incredible.

Mind you, Michael has been said to be suprisingly flexible in this situation.

Reportedly even going so far as to offer Pixar full ownership of “Cars”

if the Emeryville, CA. based animation studio would just agree to renew

its co-production / distribution deal with Disney for an additional three


And — based on what I’ve heard — the terms of the deal that the Disney

Corporation had been proposing were actually very much skewed in Pixar’s

favor. With Pixar’s getting 60% of the profits from “Cars” ‘s

initial domestic release versus the 40% that the Walt Disney Company would

have received. Then — on each successive picture — the terms of this

deal would become even more favorable toward Pixar. With a 70 / 30 profits

split proposed for Film No. 8, an 80 / 20 split on Film No. 9 and a 90/10

split on Film No. 10.

Yeah, Pixar was to have owned “Cars” and Films 8, 9 & 10

outright. Though — in exchange for handing over its ownership share in

this upcoming John Lasseter film — Pixar would have to agree to award

Disney certain exclusive rights (I.E. The rights to sell these titles

for a certain number of years through Buena Vista Home Entertainment;

the rights to air these films on ABC, the Disney Channel, ABC Family and

Toon Disney for a specific period as well as the rights to create rides

& attractions based on these four films for the Disney theme parks

for a set number of years.)

Based on what those who are familiar with what’s really been going on

with the Disney/ Pixar negotiations have told me, Jobs rejected this proposed

extension of the existing co-production/distribution deal out of hand.

Thinking that — if “The Incredibles” did particularly well

during its initial domestic release — Disney might come back to the table

with an even better offer.

What Steve is supposedly holding out for is a deal where the Disney Corporation

would agree to give up its ownership stake in the first seven Pixar films.

In exchange for this concession, the Walt Disney Company would then reportedly

be awarded the exclusive rights to distribute all of Pixar’s upcoming

releases through 2015.

Mind you, according to Jobs’ version of the plan, Disney wouldn’t be

sharing in the profits of these pictures. But — rather — would just

recieve a distribution fee that would be directly linked to that film’s

performance at the box office. The equivalent of 3 – 5% of the movie’s

total ticket sales.

So now maybe you can see why Uncle Mike — in spite of all the pressure

the financial community has placing on him to do whatever he has in order

to renew Disney’s deal with Pixar — has been reluctant to agree to Steve’s

terms. If Disney — on Eisner’s order — were to give up its ownership

stake in those first seven Pixar films in an effort to appease Jobs …

Well, you can imagine what Wall Street would make of that.

Which is why — taking the long view here — it may actually be in the

Walt Disney Company’s best interests to just let the Mouse’s current deal

with Pixar expire in 2005. After all, who knows if the Emeryville-based

animation studio’s current hot streak is going to continue indefinitely?

In the long run, doesn’t it make more financial sense for the Mouse to

hang onto what it’s already got (I.E. Co-ownership of the first seven

Pixar films) instead of just giving back that asset in an effort to appease

Steve Jobs, with the hope that Pixar Animation Studio remains a hit factory?

After all, Pixar’s hot streak has to end sometime, folks. Mind you, I’m

not wishing Jobs & Lasseter any ill-will here. It’s just the law of

averages, people. Not to mention the law of gravity. What goes up must

come down. Eventually, that animation studio is going to churn out a film

that under-performs. If not an outright flop.

(FYI: I hear that Chuck Oberleitner will also be looking into this whole

Pixar situation — with a particular emphasis on which company the Emeryville-based

animation studio may be hooking up with if their distribution deal with

Disney does in fact fall through — tomorrow over at So be

sure to head on over to that website tomorrow to hear what Mr. Oberleitner has to say.)

Anyway … Speaking of Pixar: Animation fans — even as they sing “The

Incredibles” ‘s praises — have been buzzing lately about how lackluster

that “Cars” teaser trailer seemed to be. How this first look

at that upcoming Pixar release just didn’t have same zing or pop that

the “Monsters, Inc.” teaser (Where Mike & Sully accidentally

wound up in the wrong bedroom) or “The Incredibles” advance

trailer (Where Mr. Incredible struggled mightily to put on his belt) did.

Me personally? I think that it’s a little early in the game — based

just on Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy’s brief performances in the

“Cars” trailer — to totally write off this John Lasseter film

as a flop. The finished film (as I understand it) is sort of an automotive-based

redo of a Michael J. Fox comedy, “Doc Hollywood.” I don’t know

how many of you will recall that 1991 Warner Brothers release. This is

the film where Fox plays this hotshot young doctor who — while he’s driving

out to Beverly Hills to begin a career as a plastic surgeon — has a traffic

accident in the sleepy little town of Grady, South Carolina. In lieu of

paying for all the property damage that he caused with his automobile

accident, Michael J. is sentenced to do several days worth of community

service at the local hospital. And — while Fox interacts with Grady’s

eccentric residents — he learns that there’s a lot more to life than

just big bucks and Beverly Hills.

Well, were you to substitute Lightening McQueen (I.E. that’s the name

of the race car that Owen Wilson is providing vocals for) for Michael

J. Fox’s self-absorbed surgeon, you’d have some idea how “Cars”

‘s story eventually plays out. FYI: There’s another intriguing link between

these two films: Sitcom vet David Ogden Stiers played the mayor of Grady,

S.C. in “Doc Hollywood.” Well — in “Cars” — this

one-time Disney Feature Animation favorite is supposedly voicing the role

of the mayor of Radiator Springs, the sleepy little burg just off Route

66 where Owen Wilson has his accident in the film. That’s a neat bit of

trivia, don’t you think?

Speaking of “Cars” … In a recent JHM column,

I talked about how the characters from “Cars” were initially

supposed to be folded into Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Autopia”

attraction. But now — thanks to the way this Tomorrowland favorite is

being rushed into HKDL — that proposed “Cars” tie-in appears

to have been gone by the wayside.

Well, one Imagineering insider recently wrote to me to tell me that I

may have missed the really big news about Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Autopia.”

Which is:

This is going to be the first all-electric version of “Autopia.”

So no more nasty gas fumes. Plus — for the first time ever — these

cars will have proximity sensors built into them. So that Hong Kong

Disneyland guests will never be able to experience the joy of being

rammed from behind by some 8-year-old who’s never driven a car before.

That’s the aspect of Hong Kong Disneyland’s “Autopia”

that the ops staff at Disneyland and WDW’s Magic Kingdom are most excited

about. Not the proposed “Car” overlay. But new “Autopia”

vehicles that are enviromentally friendly and significantly safer than

the ones we run in the stateside parks right now. Just the idea that

all of those nuisance “Autopia” lawsuits would possibly go

away forever has Disney’s attorneys pushing to have the all-electric

version of this Tomorrowland attraction installed at the stateside theme

parks as soon as possible.

Speaking of Hong Kong … There’s been a lot of talk lately that the

Disney Cruise Line may be looking to follow up next summer’s series of

Southern California cruises by sending the “Disney Magic” out

to the Orient for 2006. With the idea being that this elegant cruise ship

would then play a significant part in Tokyo DisneySea’s 5th anniversary

celebration. And — after that — it would then ferry a whole boatload

of journalists over to Pennys Bay to check out Hong Hong Disneyland.

Of course, that’s just a “Blue Sky” project for now. For the

immediate future, what the folks at Disney Cruise Line are mostly concentrating

on is making next summer’s Southern California cruises just as special

as possible. Which is why they’ve ordered up a brand new stage show. Which

will be presented in the Walt Disney Theater in rotation with the award-winning

“Disney Dreams” and “The Golden Mickeys” stage shows.

Speaking of which … Auditions for this new Disney Cruise Line show

are actually being held today in NYC at the Ripley-Grier Studios down

on 8th Avenue. So — if any of you song-and-dance types out there have

ever dreamed of being in a Disney stage show — Well, now’s your chance.

So go pull on a leotard and head down to Suite 16 between 10 a.m. &

1 p.m. Break a leg, okay?

Anywho … That should be enough Disney-realted news for a Monday morning.

Your thoughts?

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Seward Johnson bronzes add a surreal, artistic touch to NYC’s Garment District



Greetings from NYC. Nancy and I drove down from New
Hampshire yesterday because we'll be checking out
Disney Consumer Products' annual Holiday Showcase later today.

Anyway … After checking into our hotel (i.e., The Paul.
Which is located down in NYC's NoMad district), we decided to grab some dinner.
Which is how we wound up at the Melt Shop.

Photo by Jim Hill

Which is this restaurant that only sells grilled cheese sandwiches.
This comfort food was delicious, but kind of on the heavy side.

Photo by Jim Hill

Which is why — given that it was a beautiful summer night
— we'd then try and walk off our meals. We started our stroll down by the Empire
State Building

Photo by Jim Hill

… and eventually wound up just below Times
(right behind where the Waterford Crystal Times Square New
Year's Eve Ball
is kept).

Photo by Jim Hill

But you know what we discovered en route? Right in the heart
of Manhattan's Garment District
along Broadway between 36th and 41st? This incredibly cool series of life-like
and life-sized sculptures that Seward
Johnson has created

Photo by Jim Hill

And — yes — that is Abraham Lincoln (who seems to have
slipped out of WDW's Hall of Presidents when no one was looking and is now
leading tourists around Times Square). These 18 painted
bronze pieces (which were just installed late this past Sunday night / early
Monday morning) range from the surreal to the all-too-real.

Photo by Jim Hill

Some of these pieces look like typical New Yorkers. Like the
business woman planning out her day …

Photo by Jim Hill

… the postman delivering the mail …

Photo by Jim Hill

… the hot dog vendor working at his cart …

Photo by Jim Hill

Photo by Jim Hill

… the street musician playing for tourists …

Photo by Jim Hill

Not to mention the tourists themselves.

Photo by Jim Hill

But right alongside the bronze businessmen …

Photo by Jim Hill

… and the tired grandmother hauling her groceries home …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there were also statues representing people who were
from out-of-town …

Photo by Jim Hill

… or — for that matter — out-of-time.

Photo by Jim Hill

These were the Seward Johnson pieces that genuinely beguiled. Famous impressionist paintings brought to life in three dimensions.

Note the out-of-period water bottle that some tourist left
behind. Photo by Jim Hill 

Some of them so lifelike that you actually had to pause for
a moment (especially as day gave way to night in the city) and say to yourself
"Is that one of the bronzes? Or just someone pretending to be one of these

Mind you, for those of you who aren't big fans of the
impressionists …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there's also an array of American icons. Among them
Marilyn Monroe …

Photo by Jim Hill

… and that farmer couple from Grant Wood's "American

Photo by Jim Hill

But for those of you who know your NYC history, it's hard to
beat that piece which recreates Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous photograph of V-J Day in Times Square.

Photo by Jim Hill

By the way, a 25-foot-tall version of this particular Seward
Johnson piece ( which — FYI — is entitled "Embracing Peace") will actually
be placed in Times Square for a few days on or around  August 14th to commemorate the 70th
anniversary of Victory Over Japan Day (V-J Day).

Photo by Jim Hill

By the way, if you'd like to check these Seward Johnson bronzes in
person (which — it should be noted — are part of the part of the Garment
District Alliance
's new public art offering) — you'd best schedule a trip to
the City sometime over the next three months. For these pieces will only be on
display now through September 15th. 

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Wondering what you should “Boldly Go” see at the movies next year? The 2015 Licensing Expo offers you some clues



Greeting from the 2015 Licensing Expo, which is being held
at the Mandalay Bay
Convention Center
in Las

Photo by Jim Hill

I have to admit that I enjoy covering the Licensing Expo.
Mostly becomes it allows bloggers & entertainment writers like myself to
get a peek over the horizon. Scope out some of the major motion pictures &
TV shows that today's vertically integrated entertainment conglomerates
(Remember when these companies used to be called movie studios?) will be
sending our way over the next two years or so.

Photo by Jim Hill

Take — for example — all of "The Secret Life of
" banners that greeted Expo attendees as they made their way to the
show floor today. I actually got to see some footage from this new Illumination
production (which will hit theaters on July 8, 2016) the last time I was in Vegas. Which
was for CinemaCon back in April. And the five or so minutes of film that I viewed
suggested that "The Secret Life of Pets" will be a really funny
animated feature.

Photo by Jim Hill

Mind you, Universal Pictures wanted to make sure that Expo
attendees remembered that there was another Illumination Entertainment production
coming-to-a-theater-near-them before "The Secret Life of Pets" (And
that's "Minions," the "Despicable Me" prequel. Which
premieres at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival next week but
won't be screened stateside 'til July 10th of this year). Which is why they had
three minions who were made entirely out of LEGOS loitering out in the lobby.

Photo by Jim Hill

And Warner Bros. — because they wanted "Batman v
Superman: Dawn of Justice
" to start trending on Twitter today — brought
the Batmobile to Las Vegas.

Photo by Jim Hill

Not to mention full-sized macquettes of Batman, Superman and
Wonder Woman. Just so conventioneers could then see what these DC superheroes
would actually look like in this eagerly anticipated, March 25, 2016 release.

Photo by Jim Hill

That's the thing that can sometimes be a wee bit frustrating
about the Licensing Expo. It's all about delayed gratification. You'll come
around a corner and see this 100 foot-long ad for "The Peanuts Movie"
and think "Hey, that looks great. I want to see that Blue Sky Studios production
right now." It's only then that you notice the fine print and realize that
"The Peanuts Movie" doesn't actually open in theaters 'til November
6th of this year.

Photo by Jim Hill

And fan of Blue Sky's "Ice Age" film franchise are in for an even
longer wait. Given that the latest installment in that top grossing series
doesn't arrive in theaters 'til July
15, 2016.

Photo by Jim Hill

Of course, if you're one of those people who needs immediate
gratification when it comes to your entertainment, there was stuff like that to
be found at this year's Licensing Expo. Take — for example — how the WWE
booth was actually shaped like a wrestling ring. Which — I'm guessing — meant
that if the executives of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. didn't like
the offer that you were making, they were then allowed to toss you out over the
top rope, Royal Rumble-style.

Photo by Jim Hill

I also have to admit that — as a longtime Star Trek fan —
it was cool to see the enormous Starship Enterprise that hung in place over the
CBS booth. Not to mention getting a glimpse of the official Star Trek 50th
Anniversary logo.

Photo by Jim Hill

I was also pleased to see lots of activity in The Jim Henson
Company booth. Which suggests that JHC has actually finally carved out a
post-Muppets identity for itself.

Photo by Jim Hill

Likewise for all of us who were getting a little concerned
about DreamWorks Animation (what with all the layoffs & write-downs &
projects that were put into turnaround or outright cancelled last year), it was
nice to see that booth bustling.

Photo by Jim Hill

Every so often, you'd come across some people who were
promoting a movie that you weren't entirely sure that you actually wanted to
see (EX: "Angry Birds," which Sony Pictures Entertainment / Columbia
will be releasing to theaters on May 20, 2016). But then you remembered that Clay Kaytis
who's this hugely talented former Walt Disney Animation Studios animator — is
riding herd on "Angry Birds" with Fergal Reilly. And you'd think
"Well, if Clay's working on 'Angry Birds,' I'm sure this animated feature
will turn out fine."

Photo by Jim Hill

Mind you, there were reminders at this year's Licensing Expo
of great animated features that we're never going to get to see now. I still
can't believe — especially after that brilliant proof-of-concept footage
popped up online last year — that Sony execs decided not to go forward
with  production
of Genndy Tartakovsky's
"Popeye" movie.  But that's the
cruel thing about the entertainment business, folks. It will sometime break
your heart.

Photo by Jim Hill

And make no mistake about this. The Licensing Expo is all
about business. That point was clearly driven home at this year's show when —
as you walked through the doors of the Mandalay
Bay Convention Center
— the first thing that you saw was the Hasbros Booth. Which was this gleaming,
sleek two story-tall affair full of people who were negotiating deals &
signing contracts for all of the would-be summer blockbusters that have already
announced release dates for 2019 & beyond.

Photo by Jim Hill

"But what about The Walt Disney Company?," you
ask. "Weren't they represented on the show floor at this year's Licensing
Expo?" Not really, not. I mean, sure. There were a few companies there hyping
Disney-related products. Take — for example — the Disney Wikkeez people.

Photo by Jim Hill

I'm assuming that some Disney Consumer Products exec is
hoping that Wikkeez will eventually become the new Tsum Tsum. But to be blunt,
these little hard plastic figures don't seem to have the same huggable charm
that those stackable plush do. But I've been wrong before. So let's see what
happens with Disney Wikkeez once they start showing up on the shelves of the
Company's North American retail partners.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of Disney's retail partners … They were
meeting with Mouse House executives behind closed doors one floor down from the
official show floor for this year's Licensing Expo.

Photo by Jim Hill

And the theme for this year's invitation-only Disney shindig? "Timeless
Stories" involving the Disney, Pixar, Marvel & Lucasfilm brands that
would then appeal to "tomorrow's consumer."

Photo by Jim Hill

And just to sort of hammer home the idea that Disney is no
longer the Company which cornered the market when it comes to little girls
(i.e., its Disney Princess and Disney Fairies franchises), check out this
wall-sized Star Wars-related image that DCP put up just outside of one of its
many private meeting rooms. "See?," this carefully crafted photo
screams. "It isn't just little boys who want to wield the Force. Little
girls also want to grow up and be Lords of the Sith."

Photo by Jim Hill

One final, kind-of-ironic note: According to this banner,
Paramount Pictures will be releasing a movie called "Amusement Park"
to theaters sometime in 2017.  

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, given all the "Blackfish" -related issues
that have been dogged SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment over the past two years, I'm
just hoping that they'll still be in the amusement park business come 2017.

Your thoughts?

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It takes more than three circles to craft a Classic version of Mickey Mouse



You know what Mickey Mouse looks like, right? Little guy,
big ears?

Truth be told, Disney's corporate symbol has a lot of
different looks. If Mickey's interacting with Guests at Disneyland
(especially this summer, when
the Happiest Place on Earth
is celebrating its 60th anniversary), he looks & dresses like this.

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
All rights reserved

Or when he's appearing in one of those Emmy Award-winning shorts that Disney
Television Animation has produced (EX: "Bronco Busted," which debuts
on the Disney Channel tonight at 8 p.m. ET / PT), Mickey is drawn in a such a
way that he looks hip, cool, edgy & retro all at the same time.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights

Looking ahead to 2017 now, when Disney Junior rolls out "Mickey and the
Roadster Racers
," this brand-new animated series will feature a sportier version
of Disney's corporate symbol. One that Mouse House managers hope will persuade
preschool boys to more fully embrace this now 86 year-old character.

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

That's what most people don't realize about the Mouse. The
Walt Disney Company deliberately tailors Mickey's look, even his style of
movement, depending on what sort of project / production he's appearing in.

Take — for example — Disney
California Adventure
's "World of Color:
" Because Disney's main mouse would be co-hosting this new
nighttime lagoon show with ace emcee Neil Patrick Harris, Eric Goldberg really had
to step up Mickey's game. Which is why this master Disney animator created
several minutes of all-new Mouse animation which then showed that Mickey was
just as skilled a showman as Neil was.

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
All rights reserved

Better yet, let's take a look at what the folks at Avalanche Studios just went
through as they attempted to create a Classic version of Mickey & Minnie.
One that would then allow this popular pair to become part of Disney Infinity

"I won't lie to you. We were under a lot of pressure to
get the look of this particular version of Mickey — he's called Red Pants
Mickey around here — just right," said Jeff Bunker, the VP of Art
Development at Avalanche Studios, during a recent phone interview. "When
we brought Sorcerer Mickey into Disney Infinity 1.0 back in January of 2014,
that one was relatively easy because … Well, everyone knows what Mickey Mouse
looked like when he appeared in 'Fantasia.' "

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

"But this time around, we were being asked to design
THE Mickey & Minnie," Bunker continued. "And given that these Classic
Disney characters have been around in various different forms for the better
part of the last century … Well, which look was the right look?"

Which is why Jeff and his team at Avalanche Studios began watching hours &
hours of Mickey Mouse shorts. As they tried to get a handle on which look would
work best for these characters in Disney Infinity 3.0.

Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"And we went all the way back to the very start of Mickey's career. We began
with 'Steamboat Willie' and then watched all of those black & white Mickey shorts
that Walt made back in the late 1920s & early 1930s. From there, we
transitioned to his Technicolor shorts. Which is when Mickey went from being
this pie-eyed, really feisty character to more of a well-behaved leading
man," Bunker recalled. "We then finished out our Mouse marathon by
watching all of those new Mickey shorts that Paul Rudish & his team have
been creating for Disney Television Animation. Those cartoons really recapture
a lot of the spirit and wild slapstick fun that Mickey's early, black &
white shorts had."

But given that the specific assignment that Avalanche Studios had been handed
was to create the most appealing looking, likeable version of Mickey Mouse
possible … In the end, Jeff and his team wound up borrowing bits & pieces
from a lot of different versions of the world's most famous mouse. So that
Classic Mickey would then look & move in a way that best fit the sort of
gameplay which people would soon be able to experience with Disney Infinity

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

"That — in a lot of ways — was actually the toughest
part of the Classic Mickey design project. You have to remember that one of the
key creative conceits of  Disney Infinity
is that all the characters which appear in this game are toys," Bunker
stated. "Okay. So they're beautifully detailed, highly stylized toy
versions of beloved Disney, Pixar, Marvel & Lucasfilm characters. But
they're still supposed to be toys. So our Classic versions of Mickey &
Minnie have the same sort of thickness & sturdiness to them that toys have.
So that they'll then be able to fit right in with all of the rest of the
characters that Avalanche Studios had previously designed for Disney Infinity."

And then there was the matter of coming up with just the
right pose for Classic Mickey & Minnie. Which — to hear Jeff tell the
story — involved input from a lot of Disney upper management.

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

"Everyone within the Company seemed to have an opinion
about how Mickey & Minnie should be posed. More to the point, if you Google
Mickey, you then discover that there are literally thousands of poses out there
for these two. Though — truth be told — a lot of those kind of play off the
way Mickey poses when he's being Disney's corporate symbol," Bunker said.
"But what I was most concerned about was that Mickey's pose had to work
with Minnie's pose. Because we were bringing the Classic versions of these
characters up into Disney Infinity 3.0 at the exact same time. And we wanted to
make sure — especially for those fans who like to put their Disney Infinity
figures on display — that Mickey's pose would then complement Minnie.

Which is why Jeff & the crew at Avalanche Studios
decided — when it came to Classic Mickey & Minnie's pose — that they
should go all the way back to the beginning. Which is why these two Disney icons
are sculpted in such a way that it almost seems as though you're witnessing the
very first time Mickey set eyes on Minnie.

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

"And what was really great about that was — as soon as
we began showing people within the Company this pose — everyone at Disney
quickly got on board with the idea. I mean, the Classic Mickey that we sculpted
for Disney Infinity 3.0 is clearly a very playful, spunky character. But at the
same time, he's obviously got eyes for Minnie," Bunker concluded. "So
in the end, we were able to come up with Classic versions of these characters
that will work well within the creative confines of Disney Infinity 3.0 but at
the same time please those Disney fans who just collect these figures because
they like the way the Disney Infinity characters look."

So now that this particular design project is over, does
Jeff regret that Mouse House upper management was so hands-on when it came to
making sure that the Classic versions of Mickey & Minnie were specifically
tailored to fit the look & style of gameplay found in Disney Infinity 3.0?

Copyright Lucasfilm / Disney
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"To be blunt, we go through this every time we add a new character to the
game. The folks at Lucasfilm were just as hands-on when we were designing the
versions of Darth Vader and Yoda that will also soon be appearing in Disney
Infinity 3.0," Bunker laughed. "So in the end, if the character's
creators AND the fans are happy, then I'm happy."

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post's Entertainment page on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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