Connect with us


Why For?

Jim Hill returns with even more answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, he reveals why “Aladdin”‘s IMAX debut has been delayed, why “Home on the Range” is opening in April 2004, where to get a really snazzy t-shirt as well as finally announcing the winners of our “Epcot English Lesson” contest.



First of, Heather B. writes in to ask:

Jim –

I hate to ask this, since it’s been asked of you twice in one form or another, including once by me. But the natives over in the “Aladdin” fandom are getting restless…

You said previously that “Aladdin” was coming to IMAX January 2004 and the reason we hadn’t heard anything was because Disney was waiting so they wouldn’t spend so much on advertising. Well, it’s December 18th now, so either they’re waiting *really* late or the date’s been changed or cancelled. The IMAX website lists (this film) as coming out in 2004 (no more specific) and the Disney Giant Screen Movies page doesn’t mention “Al” at all, but says that Disney’s holiday Imax release is “The Young Black Stallion.” Did “Aladdin” get bumped to a later date (again?!) or just cancelled altogether?

Thanks a bunch,

Heather –

Jeese, I don’t know what to tell you. I mean, I know for a fact that — over the past two years — Disney Feature Animation has devoted hundreds of man hours (and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars) getting “Aladdin” ready for its IMAX debut. But then — when both “Beauty and the Beast: The Special Edition” and “The Lion King” both under-performed during their large format runs — the accountanteers who are currently running the Mouse Factory suddenly decided that perhaps they should keep Robin William’s Genie in his lamp for a little while longer.

What exactly is the problem here, Heather? Well, given all the money that the Mouse had spent on prepping “BATB” and “TLK” for their large screen debuts (Plus the millions more poured that the corporation had poured into the promotion of these two pictures), Mickey had really expected to get some sort of return on that investment. But when that didn’t happen in both 2001 or 2002, Disney then decided: “Well, maybe people really DON’T want to pay to see cartoons that they already own in the REALLY BIG screen. Maybe we should show them something new instead.”

Enter “The Young Black Stallion.” Or — as the folks at Walt Disney Studios prefer to refer to it — IMAX’s last hope.

To explain: The real reason that “The Young Black Stallion” is being released in what had been previously announced as “Aladdin” ‘s old slot is that the Walt Disney Company is giving large format theaters one final chance. If “The Young Black Stallion” actually manages to connect with audiences, Disney may opt to continue its flirtation with IMAX. Produce new films specifically to be shown for large format theaters. If — on the other hand — “The Young Black Stallion” comes up lame at the box office, the Mouse may opt to this whole IMAX idea out to pasture.

The real sad part of this story is that the IMAX versions of “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Pocahontas” are reportedly already prepped and sitting in the can, ready to unspool. But — if what I’m hearing is correct, Heather — the only way that we’re now ever going to see “Aladdin” on the REALLY BIG screen is if Buena Vista Home Entertainment opts to show the film in IMAX this fall as a special promotional event prior to the official kick-off of the sales of the “Platinum Edition” of “Aladdin.”

Which makes me sad, Heather. Why for? Because “Aladdin” really is one of my favorite Disney animated films. And I was so looking forward to seeing “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali” play out on the big screen. Here’s hoping that the folks at Disney Studios have a change of heart and at least allow this John Musker and Ron Clements classic to at least have a short run in large format theaters sometime in 2004.

If not … well, here’s the deal, Heather. When the “Platinum Edition” of “Aladdin” comes out in the Fall of 2004, you and I are finding the largest plasma screen television possible. And — as the “Aladdin” DVD plays — we are going to sit impossibly close to the screen, okay?

Is it a date?

Moving on to our next question, Steve writes in to ask:

Dear Jim:

Let me begin by thanking you for the wonderfully informative articles you have shared through the years. I have enjoyed them and the integrity of your reporting ver y much.

My question regarding “Home on the Range” concerns its April release date. I am surprised that it has not been scheduled as a tent-pole summer or Christmas picture as it is a general rule with Disney animated features. After all, this is not a small film from the TV animation division, but a big budget film that would normally go out in June or November when it enjoys a longer, more profitable run. This says to me that the studio lacks faith in its quality or public appeal. Do you know what their motivation is for this less prestigious slot?

Thank you very much!


Dear Steve –

Thanks for the kind words regarding the crud I churn out for As for “Home on the Range” ‘s release date … As hard as this may be for you to believe, Steve, the Mouse actually isn’t throwing this traditionally animated film away. But — rather — the marketing staff at Walt Disney Studios is doing its level best to position this Will Finn and John Sanford picture properly. With the hope that “HOTR” will be the only family friendly film in theaters on April 2, 2004. Which will hopefully translate into some significant dough for Disney.

Don’t under-estimate that late winter / early spring time slot, Steve. Though it may not logically seem like as lucrative a time to release a film as — say — the depths of summer and/or the height of the holiday season, animated movies can still rake in plenty of moola in March and April. Take — for example — the $46 million that “Ice Age” made over its opening weekend — which was March 15 — 17, 2002. That CG Blue Sky / 20th Century Fox release then went on to gross $176 million during its initial domestic run, with most of those ticket sales occurring in late March and early April.

So “Home on the Range” may do more than “Bust a Moo on April 2.” It may actually go on to bust a few box office records. Provided — of course — that Walt Disney Pictures’ promotional department does its job right.

Which may be kind of difficult. Why for? Because — the way I hear it — Roseanne is still plenty pissed at Disney execs for allowing ABC to abruptly cancel her “Real Roseanne Show” back in August (which — in turn — derailed the “Domestic Goddess” cooking show that the comedienne was prepping for the ABC Family cable channel). Which means that Roseanne (who provides vocals for the lead character of “Home on the Range,” a humorous but heroic cow called Maggie) may opt not to take part in promoting the picture next April.

Or worse (given the comedienne’s outspoken reputation), Roseanne (in an effort to get back at those Disney exes) may decide to bad-mouth this Will Fill and John Sanford picture. Which would really be a shame. Why for? Because I keep hearing that “Home on the Range” may be one of the funniest films that Walt Disney Feature Animation has churned out in years. And I think that it would be terrible if a feud between Roseanne and the stupid studio execs who mishandled the cancellation of the comedienne’s latest TV show ended up tripping up “HOTR”‘s one real shot at box office success.

Next, Bob D. checks in to ask:

Hi Jim,

Could you let me know where I can purchase that “Disappointed” t shirt that was featured on your site recently?


Bob D.

Bob D.

Sure. Just follow this link and the gentleman who runs this extremely fun site will be happy to set you up with a “Disappointed” t-shirt (the OFFICIAL shirt of the “Oust Eisner” revolution).

And — finally — Bad Toupee drops by to ask:

Hey, Jim –

What happened to that contest you were running at a few weeks back? The one where people were competing for copies of Jason Surrell’s “Haunted Mansion” book? Who eventually ended up winning those two copies of the book you were giving away?

Just curious,
Bad Toupee

Dear Bad Toupee –

Omigod! You’re right. What with dealing with MouseFest 2003 and then all this Roy / Stanley / Michael stuff, I completely blanked that contest that I started back in November.

For those of you who don’t recall: Back on November 10th, I asked JHM readers to help me answer some questions that a WDW cast member (Who was a Japanese national working at one of the food stands at the Japanese pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase) asked about some vague sounding English terms. That request — “The Epcot English Lesson” — resulted in a huge pile of e-mail. A total of 247 people sent in entries, with some readers actually sending several different versions on what they thought “few,” “some,” “many,” “a handful” et al meant. With the hope that that would help them score a copy of Jason’s wonderful “Haunted Mansion” book.

Given that so many of the entries that I received for the “Epcot English Lesson” contest last month were so witty and so well thought out, it was damned near impossible for me to decide which two JHM readers had done the best job of summing up what these truly vague English terms meant. But — after reading and re-reading all of these well written e-mails — two entries (like cream) rose to the top.

The first prize winner came from Margaret Weatherford. Who (I think) used a lot of common sense when it came to try and answering this nonsensical question:


I think your Japanese correspondent’s problem is that he is seeking to place objective labels on subjective terms, and restaurant patrons fully expect follow-up questions as to the exact amounts that will make them happy. (This problem arises because Disney portion sizes are so odd and variable that no one knows what size to ask for, especially with unfamiliar Japanese food.) But here is my contest entry anyway.

Few = Three to five. Disney guests probably want as many as there are people in their party.
Some = The standard amount of whatever is mentioned for the number of people in the party.
Couple = Officially two, but people often use it to make their request sound smaller, and hope to be offered three or four.
Handful = Literally means a handful, or a handful-sized scoop.
More = A second standard amount of whatever is mentioned.
A Ton = The largest size available of whatever is mentioned.
Much = Much is only used in the phrase “too much,” and has no size equivalent.
Too much = A subjective term. It’s more than the diner wants, and a restaurant server should offer a smaller size.
Plenty = In “that’s plenty,” the amount given is at least as much as the diner wants, and no more should be offered. In “plenty of,” the diner wants a larger amount than is usually served.
Many = Rarely used except in “too many,” but it could be used to mean a majority — “many of us like sushi.”
Too Many = The same as “that’s plenty,” but used for countable objects.
Bunch = For people, a group of at least five but less than twelve. For food/utensils/etc., the patron expects a larger amount than is usually offered, but may need more or less than the server subsequently gives.
Group = Always applies to people, and at Disney means a group of people visiting the park together, likely larger than the typical family. Just ask “how many in your group?”
Several = Between five and ten countable objects.
A Pile of = A large handful, usually of napkins.
Enough = In “that’s enough,” the same as “that’s plenty.” Sometimes people may use it when they really don’t know how much they need (of soy sauce or wasabi, for example) and expect the server to know.
A Lot of = Like “a bunch,” means that the diner wants more than is usually offered.
Smattering = Rarely used. I would say that it means a small amount, generally sprinkled on or mixed in other food.

Our second JHM prize winner — Mark Bagby — took a much more humorous approach to the problem:

Okay, this is challenging. Now I know why those who learn English as a
second language struggle so.

First, it depends on what you’re asking for…and these are all
personal. If you’re asking for packets of sweetener, no problem. If it’s
steaks, that’s another story! The problem with these phrases is they are
undetermined, indefinite terms of imprecision…which is the point. We
use these terms because we don’t know the specifics of the situation, or
exactly what we want or need. If I need two, I’ll ask for two. If I’m
not certain how much I’ll need, I’ll ask for a couple, or a few.

But, that said…Here are my definitions:

“Few” means three or four; my dictionary says “some but not many; a
small number.” Of course, that’s relative, but if you asked me for a
few, I would give you three or four.

“Some” is an unknown, or unspecified number, according to the
dictionary, but I would say four, five or six.

“Couple” is definitely two. As in a handsome couple…or the verb,
coupling, which means two. Unless it’s a threesome. So that would be
few…and far between, too.

“Handful” implies small objects that you can hold in your hand. So,
whatever you can scoop up in one hand. A handful of water, for instance,
would be quite different than a handful of M and Ms.

“More” means a greater amount than what you’ve got, whether it’s one

“A Ton” literally would be 2,000 pounds (unless it’s a metric tonne),
but I’d say it’s a weight heavier than you expected it to weigh. You
pick something up and you can sling it on your back–a backpack,
say–and it’s more weight than you thought…at which point, we groan,
“That weighs a ton!”

“Much” means sufficient quantity, usually meaning more than one, I
think. ‘Nuff said?

“Too Much” is more than ’nuff…usually in a case when the cup isn’t big
enough, the bowl isn’t big enough, or the price is too high. Those are
separate definitions, I suppose. “You gave me too much” is quite
different from “You charged me too much!”

“Plenty” means sufficient quantity to meet the need. Specific number?
Well, it could be zero…”I got plenty o’nuthin'” still means zero.

“Many” is a large yet indefinite number. I’d say, ten or more.

“Too Many” is Disneyland on a day between Christmas and New Year’s.
Otherwise, see “Too Much”.

“Bunch” is six to seven, I think. As in the “Wild Bunch,” or
“Magnificent Seven.”

“Group” to me is six or more people. You can’t use it for anything else.
People only…unless you use it as a verb.

“Several” according to my dictionary is more than two but fewer than
many. So, by my definition, three to nine.

“A Pile Of” has to have some kind of conical shape, like a pyramid.
Otherwise it’s stacked. So, size doesn’t matter, just the shape.

“Enough” is about where I am with definitions. Sufficient to meet the
need, with no excess, waste or reserve.

“A Lot Of” is a synonym for much. It means a great quantity…which is
again relative.

“Smattering” is a small quantity of something, usually referred to in
cooking or painting. Therefore it’s imprecise. One garlic clove in two
pounds of pork sausage is a smattering…but in a teaspoon, it would be
a lot. Too much for some. If you eat too many pounds, you’ll grow a
bunch…maybe as big a couple. A few pounds isn’t so much…enough. This
is just a pile of…

You get the idea.


Mark Bagby

So if Mark and Margaret could please sling an e-mail to me at my address, I’d be happy to put your copies of “The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies” in the mail to you. Thanks to all of you who entered (And — yes — we will be holding more contests here at starting in 2004).

That’s it for this week, folks. Sorry that it’s be so long between “Why Fors.” But — what with all the traveling that I’ve been doing lately plus all the really-for-real Disney-related news that’s been popping up all over the Web lately — I had to put this column on hold for a while.

But — given how popular this particular feature is with JHM readers — I promise that we’ll get “Why For?” back up to regular feature status just as soon as we all get through the holidays, okay?

Talk to you again on Monday,


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.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


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. 

Continue Reading


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?

Continue Reading


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
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"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

Continue Reading