Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Queen Confirmed As Next Full-Length Disney Feature

The rumors about Disney working on Snow Queen have been around for a long time now and it's true it has been in development and then taken off the boards in the past (so to speak). Now, however, it's been confirmed as being back in the development stage of production (with a release likely in 2013).Pixar's John Lassiter made it very clear he wanted to do more fairy tales when he took over the revamping of Disney Feature Animation and he was just as passionate about returning to hand drawn animation. Snow Queen has not been confirmed as the next full-length hand drawn animated feature going into production after the Winnie-the-Pooh feature (which doesn't appear to be full-length from the way it's spoken about, but I could be wrong on that count). It appears they're fully on track with the announcement that they plan to "release a hand-drawn animated film every 2 year keeping in with the tradition and work that built Disney to where it is today".You can see a very brief announcement HERE by Producer Peter Del Vecho and a little speculation about it. (Whether the project is titled "The Snow Queen" or just "Snow Queen" isn't clear.)

I found an article HERE from June which effectively assembled all the rumors and past tidbits on Snow Queen and is quite informative with interview quotes. It was one of the first places to give some substance to the idea Snow Queen was back in the feature plan this year, though it hasn't been updated with this news from the last couple of days (the comments section confirms it as of November though).The concept art you're seeing here is by development artist and animator Harald Siepermann who released a ton of old sketches from his portfolio a while back. These Snow Queen pieces were among them (you can see all of the sketches from the different projects HERE). He was interviewed back in 2008 and had this to say about the designs he was working on:
HS: I worked together with Dick Zondag on The Snow Queen. I’ve known him since Balto, actually, which we did for Steven Spielberg animation. When the time came for The Snow Queen, they gave me call and then I did some first design based on a young Meryl Streep kind of character. Unluckily, the project was canceled because Disney didn’t want to go into fairytales anymore at that time. They said that they wanted something wise, witty and more modern, because at that time, you know, everybody said that the Disney formula was dead and nobody wanted to see princesses and stuff like that. So, that project was canceled, sadly. But I spent a couple of weeks on some Queens, trying different levels of caricature on her, some more cartoony, others less.
No news on the artists attached to this project yet, though Alan Menken ("Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid") is said to already be at work on the score.

You may want to note that ABC (owned by Disney) is looking to produce a TV series adaptation of Fables, which features Kai and the Snow Queen as characters, is currently in the Pilot production stage (i.e. greenlit and beyond). No news on whether Kai and the Snow Queen will be featured yet, of course. It's probably not at all related but considering it's very early in Snow Queen's development (assuming they start from scratch - which, since having the opportunity to see some development a few years ago, I sincerely hope they do) I'm sure artists (at Disney Feature Animation) will be taking note at how the characters are handled if they appear, despite that they're Bill Willingham's versions.

Hmm. Perhaps that announcement should have been in a separate post. OK - I'll repeat that info shortly... ;)
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