1:09 pm - 08/16/2011

Disney Animation Exec: Story is Irrelevant to Our Company

John Lasseter believes that, “No amount of great animation will save a bad story.” Not every exec at Disney appears to share the same values though. Speaking at SIGGRAPH last Sunday, Andy Hendrickson, the chief technical officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, offered his opinion by emphatically stating that when you’re making a tentpole feature like Toy Story 3 or Alice in Wonderland, story is overrated:

“People say ‘It’s all about the story.’ When you’re making tentpole films, bullshit.”

He supported his theory by citing Disney’s recent Alice in Wonderland as an example: “The story isn’t very good, but visual spectacle brought people in droves. And Johnny Depp didn’t hurt.”

So according to Hendrickson, here’s the Disney formula: VISUAL SPECTACLE+JOHNNY DEPP-STORY = $$$. At least he’s honest about how Hollywood works nowadays. Give this man a promotion and corner office post-haste!



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mwffj 16th-Aug-2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
So that explains why Cars 2 was made.
jirisuomesta 16th-Aug-2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
cars 2 just broke the record for best box office sales out of all pixar movies in Finland..

I work at a daycare centre and pretty much 80 % of the kids there have seen the movie already...
xpirate_queenx 16th-Aug-2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
Everybody knows Finland is the lynchpin in evaulating a movie's success and overall worth.
me_mumbo 16th-Aug-2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
Cars 2 was made because they made a lot of money off of the merchandise for the first Cars
fabouluz 16th-Aug-2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
Ugh. Pixar do it better, if you forget about Cars 1 and 2
rhapsodeeinblue 16th-Aug-2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
"Story is King." -Pixar
snortingcoke 16th-Aug-2011 05:34 pm (UTC)
this is why pixar are superior. although i forgive disney JUST A LITTLE for making winnie the pooh, because that movie was just so perfect. OLD FASHIONED WORKS DISNEY, IT WORKS!
on_broadway36 16th-Aug-2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
Winnie the Pooh was so cute. my mom dragged me and my brother to go see it (we're in our twenties) and I was legit surprised how good it was.
shania_cares 16th-Aug-2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
I think I may have to drag my mom to the theater tomorrow to see it. She won't complain as long as I pay.
snortingcoke 16th-Aug-2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
i love winnie the pooh, i wish i still had all my old videos :( but it is perfection how could anyone hate it?
automaticly 16th-Aug-2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
winnie the pooh was perfection
i hate how it opened the same day as harry potter
me_mumbo 16th-Aug-2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Cars, though...
makemegood 17th-Aug-2011 12:29 am (UTC)
Toy Story 3 had the exact same plot as the other ones.
peacetrains 16th-Aug-2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Well, at least he's being honest. Alice In Wonderland sucked.
lightbird777 16th-Aug-2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
Yep. And it made a billion dollars.
ppeak 16th-Aug-2011 08:33 pm (UTC)
Which I'm still amazed by. Wow. Just Wow.
must_go_faster 16th-Aug-2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
lol it's not like Disney's knows for original writing in the first place
filmorejive 16th-Aug-2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
oh good i was hoping for a disney post because im rewatching the jungle book right now and its not as good as i remember and im pretty bummed about that cause it used to be one of my faves. its just not doing it for me right now though, idk.
victorialupin 16th-Aug-2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
I had the same feeling with Oliver & Company when I did my Disney re-watch last year. All the other films were just as I'd remembered them, but O&C was super underwhelming considering it was one of my favourites. :(
r4wrdinosaur 16th-Aug-2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
An American Tail and Fievel Goes West were like that for me :( It was so sad.
aquanite 17th-Aug-2011 06:50 am (UTC)
Omg I still fucking love Fievel Goes West. It's just so ridiculous ksdjfkds and the songs are fab.
aleisha_xo 16th-Aug-2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
lol its the opposite for me. I HATED it when I was younger but I really like it now. I keep telling my friends to rewatch it but they all think its horrible and won't give it a chance
bodyline 16th-Aug-2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
fruitariyum 16th-Aug-2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
well this article is overreacting.

for the example the man gave.... everyone already knows the story of alice and wonderland, so they did work hard to make the graphics qt, and that IS what brought the general public in to see it + johnny depp (minus alice stans or w/e)

& its different if you're doing original works
shania_cares 16th-Aug-2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
This. Although there isn't much original stuff out in Hollywood now since it is all remakes, sequels or book adaptations.
ourabouras 16th-Aug-2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
What about PotC 4, HP7p1 and p2, Cars 2, Shrek 3, any and all of the Transformer movie?
Without the visuals these were all shit, and yet most of them are crossing the billion dollar mark, where more daring and original movies like any Studio Ghibli production, Scott Pilgrim, Legend of the Guardians, X-Men First Class (the story wasn't original per se but it was awesome), Attack the Block, etc. barely recoup there costs.
sparkfactory 16th-Aug-2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
ugh when are they defrosting walt so he can be like WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING and light all these people on fire srsly
rissa_rose 16th-Aug-2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
Walt's body is decomposing at a cemetery in California, sry2say.
sparkfactory 16th-Aug-2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
xpirate_queenx 16th-Aug-2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
Body, maybe, but everyone knows his head is frozen atop the Matterhorn. Ahem.
missingalphabet 16th-Aug-2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
Alice was terrible, but I thought the story in Toy Story 3 was pretty good. I didn't really expect to like it because I thought it'd be some lameass attempt to capture the spirit of two movies from yeeeeeears ago, but it was great.
rissa_rose 16th-Aug-2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
Oh please. Disney has always been about the story. Next time you head to a Disney park or resort, ask a cast member about the location's story whether you're at an attraction, restaurant, etc.

This guy is so very wrong.
odense 5th-Nov-2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
wait, what do you mean? (ok this post was from months ago but i was just linked here today) do you mean every location has a story or every location has been inspired by a story?

/disney fan who wants to become a stan
anyone625 16th-Aug-2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
And that's why you SUCK.
I don't understand Hollywood's hatred for writers...the human desire for stories is the reason Hollywood exists.
luckystar246 16th-Aug-2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Well, he's telling the truth for some of their recent films. The story wasn't the center of attention in Pirates 3 (idk about 4), Alice in Wonderland, or Cars. The audience was built in, so they were going to make the money anyway, hence the tentpole label.

As for movies like Tangled or The Princess and the Frog, they weren't guaranteed moneymakers, but the story was the most important element. Even Toy Story 3, but that is because Toy Story is, well, a Toy Story movie.

Disney can be their former awesome self when they want to be. I just wish they wanted to be awesome more often.
I'm still bitter over the mess that Alice in Wonderland was.
nothingmuch 16th-Aug-2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
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