This week Disney Animation announced that work on the animated adaptation of the classic Jack and the Beanstalk story, Gigantic, is halting development. Personally, I was excited about a Disney twist on the classic fairytale and have to admit I am a bit disappointment in it’s cancelation.
Disney Animation head, Ed Catmull, told the Hollywood Reporter:
“Sometimes, no matter how much we love an idea or how much heart goes into it, we find that it just isn’t working… It’s impossible to know when we begin a project how the creative process will unfold, and sometimes, no matter how much we love an idea or how much heart goes into it, we find that it just isn’t working. With Gigantic, we’ve come to that point, and although it’s a difficult decision, we are ending active development for now. We are focusing our energies on another project that has been in the works, which we’ll be sharing more about soon, now set for Thanksgiving 2020.”
Though many are disappointed and others are saying this is cracks showing in the Disney Animation venire, I believe, though disappointed, Gigantic being shelved is a good thing.
I once sat in on a talk with Disney animator Phil Young, who is best known for animating Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King. Young had been with Disney Animation starting with Disney’s The Fox and the Hound through The Emperors New Groove and even worked on the not so classic Disney animated feature Home on the Range. During this talk Young lamented the period where Disney had too much success.
Young was animating right in the middle of the Disney Renaissance*. Disney was hot and they knew it. Word on the street was Disney head Michael Eisner wanted 3 full length animated futures a year and as such the studio began to cool off a bit and fade into relative obscurity as Pixar was taking the mantel of best animated studio.
Why did this happen? Because Disney focused on quantity not quality. Thus they gave us some poor offerings in the late nineties and early 2000’s.
Fast forward to 2006, Michael Eisner is out as Disney head, Bob Iger is in and makes it a priority to solidify things with Pixar, which leads to Disney purchasing the animation studio. This acquisition put Pixar cofounders Ed Catmull and John Lasseter at the helm of Disney Animation Studios, subsequently beginning what many have termed as the second Disney renaissance or revival.
It has been quite the revival, Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana and the list continues. These movies have been quality animate films, with compelling narratives that drew in audiences from every background. It could be tempting with all of this success to begin to gloss over on some story elements and just make movies to make money. I believe the shelving of Gigantic shows us Disney Animation Studios is not willing to make the same mistakes of the past.
Sometimes when you create content, as you work through the creative process, what you hoped for just doesn’t work out. In the moment you realize your work is not what it should be, you can walk away and come back to it again later or force the issue. Forcing the issue creates bland soulless work, while walking away for a while gives you time to get the creative juices flowing with other projects that may inspire you in the future development of the shelved project.
Am I disappointed Gigantic is shelved? ABSOLUTELY, but it gives me hope that we will continue to get amazing stories from Disney Animation Studio.
Good Call Disney!
Give us Quality Over Quantity!
*For more on the Disney Renaissance watch this video from The Silver Screen Show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=185oOeWU56Y
and this video from Thingamavlogs
Andy Herndon is a husband, dad, film geek, Disney nerd, video editor, YouTuber, host of the DCast Podcast and film student at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, OR. You can follow him on all the various social media networks at @andyherndon, listen to him on www.thedcast.com or see him on YouTube at youtube.com/andyherndon.