Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wake Up Call
Sometime on Thursday, Tangled will cross the $100 million mark at the box office, an important milestone that indicates that the movie is well on its way to being Disney Animation's first big hit in several years. Perhaps in the future we will look back on Tangled as the start of a new renaissance for Walt Disney Animation Studios after a string of disappointments. Of course, this isn't the first time that the animation studio has pulled itself out of a long slumber. Released this week on DVD, Waking Sleeping Beauty tells the story of how the studio ushered in a new era of animated classics in the 1980s and 1990s, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. I had the opportunity to watch the documentary at a special screening at the Smithsonian earlier this year, and I was mesmerized. Seldom does Disney pull back the curtain on itself in such an open and honest way, but the filmmakers (Disney animation vet Don Hahn and former Disney animation executive Peter Schneider) received an astonishing level of cooperation from the company and from the key figures involved in the behind-the-scenes drama: Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Roy Disney. In many ways, the film covers much of the same ground as the excellent book DisneyWar, but with a particular focus on the animation studio and the people that worked there. If you are a Disney fan, an animation fan, or simply interested in the business of show business, I highly recommend you give Waking Sleeping Beauty a look.