Speaking at an annual shareholder’s meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday, chief executive Bob Iger revealed that none of the studio’s animation companies was working on 2D, hand-drawn material for the big screen. While Iger did not rule out returning in the future to the style which made the company famous, the long gestation period for Hollywood animated productions means a gap of several years before any new film might emerge.
“To my knowledge we’re not developing a 2D or hand-drawn feature animated film right now,” said Iger. “There is a fair amount of activity going on in hand-drawn animation but it’s largely for television at this point. We’re not necessarily ruling out the possibility [of] a feature but there isn’t any in development at the company at the moment.”
The news will upset fans of traditional hand-drawn animation, who had been cheered by the revival of the form under John Lasseter, the Pixar boss who also became Disney Animation’s chief creative officer in 2006. Lasseter told a London audience for a 2009 screening of Bolt (a CGI animation) that he had re-hired many of the animators who were ditched by the previous regime because of the emergence of computer-generated technology in the 1990s.
The sad fact is that their last couple of hand drawn animated films haven’t found audiences. The Frog Princess made nearly 300$ Million to be sure, however it’s the exception. Remember that Winnie the Pooh movie they put out a couple years back? Yeah, neither do I. Most of the rest of 3D animated films have pulled in 300$ as a minimum.
However, Paperman was produced by people drawing with computers, so while pencil may not hit paper again any time soon let’s hope at least that stylii hit screens (because that movie was gorgeous).