View Full Version : Treasure Planet Tidbits

10-02-2002, 11:48 AM
Jim Hill (http://www.jimhillmedia.com/newarticles/singles/tp1.htm) has a new article about the possibilities of Treasure Planet & how much investment Uncle Mike has in it...


Another Voice
10-02-2002, 03:29 PM
While I respect most of Mr. Hill’s writing, occasionally his sources and his general rah-rah attitude get the better of him.

The sad fact of the matter is that no one higher up the food chain is expecting this film to do anything. Sure, they will make noises about how wonderful it will be and they’ll telling Entertainment Tonight how big it’s going to be, but if you had $120+ million out on the line you’d be a cheerleader too.

‘Treasure Planet’ has been a very troubled production from the beginning. It was supposed to have been last summer’s big movie but Disney forced it and ‘Lilo’ to trade places (An aside – I think ‘Lilo’ would have doubled its box office if it had been released as planned. It’s much more of a holiday family movie than a summer blockbuster). In part the switch was made because of Eisner’s last minute changes (“Pirates have guns and swords!” shrieked the executive. “Remove them lest I not be invited to Bab’s next Lear Jet Liberal Cavalcade!”) and because the entire movie still needed story work. Not easy nor inexpensive things to do at the last minute. Nor, according to rumors, all the successful either.

A related issue is that Eisner really doesn’t think “traditional” animation has a future. He sees either CGI or Saturday morning. That’s it. Big time Hollywood feature length animation is dead according to “Disney common knowledge”. All the stuff that Jim Hill wrote about clever marketing through music video and website is “clever” at all – Disney hacked the marketing budget for this film on the “don’t throw good money after bad” theory a long time again. Costumes in the Disney Store is about all the marketing they can afford, not a full sized television commercial campaign. Besides, who wants to back a cartoon up against ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’?

And all the stuff about ‘Treasure Planet’ being the next ‘Beauty and the Beast’ hit? Riiiggghhhtttt…..

There are two ways of making gobs of money on a movie. The first is to get hordes of teenagers to see your movie the first weekend. The second is to get all those people who only see one or two movies a year in theaters. ‘Treasure Planet’ appeals to neither of those groups. ‘Beauty’ succeeded by getting lots and lots of people back into the theaters to relieve the childhood memories of the classic Disney films from their childhood. ‘Shrek’ mad millions by appealing to the traditional teenage movie going audience.

Another sad fact is that action-adventure films don’t work in an animated format. They just don’t and even Mr. Katzenberg had to prove that fact to himself again with ‘Spirit’. Action films work by pulling the audience into the movie – the rollercoaster effect. The excitement comes placing the audience in the middle of the action. And THAT requires “realness” of the effects, the stunts and the settings. You, the audience, have to feel you are there. As an example – that’s why ‘Titanic’ worked. You may not have really cared about the silly love story, but the intensity and detail of the sinking made you feel what it was like on the boat. You could almost sense you were there. Show of hands – how many people unconsciously held their breath the moment the stern plunged underwater?

Action doesn’t ever look convincing in animation. There’s no reality to begin with. Instead, animation is a character-driven form. The excitement comes from identifying with the characters and what happens to them. In action movies the characters are really nothing more than props – the interest is in the show around them.

A quick example – the “skysurfing” scene that appears in the trailer. In the animated film you see someone riding a “rocket board” through the sky in a scene oblivious lifted from the extreme sport. Nice, but really nothing but interesting drawings. Now flip over to Fox Sports Net and look at real footage of real doing real skysurfing. Instead of a drawing – there’s a real person failing to the ground at over 100 mph. The only thing between him and certain death is his parachute. Will it work??? Which scene is more inherently exciting – a real person risking death or some artwork?*

Lastly, there was another very good reason why Mr. Katzenberg kept putting off ‘Treasure Planet’. For fifteen years at least, Disney had been trying to develop a live action version of ‘Princess of Mars’ by Edger Rice Burroughs (the guy who created Tarzan’). At the turn of the last century, he wrote an amazing series of adventure books set on Mars with a look and feel very similar to what’s shown up in ‘Treasure’. The choice was simple – which would be the more impressive movie: drawings of wooden ships in space or live action footage of Red and Green Martian armies battling over the Grand Canal of Mars (and a stunningly beautiful princess that lays eggs)?

We’ll get a chance to see. Disney dumped the film and it’s being made by another studio as their major summer release.

* Before someone responds about stunt men and special effects in live action movies, again they only work if the look real. Bad special effects ruin the illusion. Yes, intellectually you may know it just a stuntman, but in the moment and if the movie’s good you forget about that fact. And there is real danger involved. Someone died performing a stunt in ‘XXX’ and they left the shot in the film.

10-04-2002, 10:26 AM
I think that's the first time Jim Hill has been described as a cheerleader. :D

I know Treasure Planet has issues, but like most die-hard Disney fans, I keep hoping that the story department will be able to create something that even Burbank can't completely kill.

I also keep hoping that someone will take feature animation away from Eisner, since he obviously doens't know what he's doing to it. His CGI or DTV philosophy disturbs me greatly, since it ignores the need for good stories in animation (i.e. Dinosaur on one hand and *any* of the DTV offerings on the other hand).