Baton Rouge Audience to Have First Glimpse of Disney’s 2009 Feature Film this Friday, Jan. 16
BATON ROUGE --- A Walt Disney Animation Studios executive will speak at the Red Stick Ink & Paint Club Luncheon Friday, Jan. 16, to detail the company’s collaboration with the Red Stick International Animation Festival and promote Disney’s Christmas 2009 release, “The Princess and the Frog,” which is set in Louisiana. Luncheon attendees will enjoy an exclusive sneak peek at scenes from the film.
Friday’s luncheon is the inaugural event for the Red Stick Ink & Paint Club, a newly formed group for the local business community that outlines the economic impact the festival has on Baton Rouge and offers companies opportunities to become part of the event. The luncheon will take place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Heidelberg Ballroom of the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center on Lafayette Street downtown.
Emily Hoppe, an animation marketing and publicity professional with Walt Disney Animation Studios, will speak during the luncheon to describe “The Princess and The Frog,” scheduled for release Dec. 25, 2009, and discuss Disney’s ongoing relationship with Red Stick. “The Princess and The Frog” will be Disney’s first hand-drawn animated film produced in five years.
Hoppe screened several in-progress scenes from The Princess and the Frog to the audience. “This is the first time this level has been shown outside the Disney premises,” Hoppe told the audience, warning them the preliminary footage was “really rough,” switching between pencil test and finished animation or storyboard frames from shot to shot. The animators’ relish at bringing 2D back to the studio was clearly evident, their work evoking moments from the Disney classics including Peter Pan’s on-the-loose shadow and Baloo’s “Bare Necessities” Jungle Book strut. The clips also featured a pair of sly nods to the 2D process itself, with the pictures on a shuffling tarot deck turning into a flip book and later, a pair of illustrations on succeeding pages of a fairy tale book compared like animation extremes. The film’s Louisiana setting drew an appreciative laugh from the local audience when one character explains he’s “from far away,” which prompted a second one to ask “Shreveport?” (the state’s northernmost big city, some 340 miles north of New Orleans.)
Directors Clement and Musker have put Disney’s best 2D animators to work on the film. Bad guy Dr. Facilier, animated by Bruce W. Smith easily holds his own against the Jafars and Captain Hooks of Disney past; Eric Goldberg (Aladdin’s Genie) is responsible for the trumpet-playing alligator Louis, and superstar animator Andreas Deja (recipient of Red Stick’s first Lifetime Career Achievement Award at last year’s festival) animated Mama Odie, the film’s swamp-dwelling ‘fairy godmother’ stand-in and her pet snake Juju.
Even with all this talent working at full tilt, one wonders if The Princess and the Frog is the rebirth or the last gasp of Disney 2D animation. “It’s definitely the rebirth,” Hoppe says without a moment’s hesitation. “The studio has two separate pipelines in place, one for 2D and one for 3D. There’s a warmth in 2D you won’t see in CGI.” She credits Pixar’s maven and Disney animation head John Lasseter – the man whose CGI talent helped put 2D on the skids – for the studio’s return to hand-drawn animation. “John said 2D became the scapegoat for bad scripting.”
Hoppe described Red Stick as “our number-one priority” because of the festival’s artistic rather than competitive focus. “We’ve been keeping an eye on Red Stick,” she noted, adding that some of Disney’s “foremost animators” as well as several of the studio’s top technical people will be attending the festival in April; “it’s a battle to the death to see who gets to go.”
Disney adds African-American Princess Tiana to royal family
Updated 20h 20m ago
By Krista Borden, Mattel
The Princess and the Frog Tiana doll will be unveiled Monday in New York.
Disney Princess Tiana in the upcoming Disney movie.
By Charisse Jones
Move over Snow White. Make room for Princess Tiana.
For the first time, Disney is creating a film with an African-American princess whose doll will make its debut Monday at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.
For Disney, it's not just about being culturally and politically correct, it's also about growing its lucrative — but aging — Disney Princess franchise in a tough economy. Created in 1999, Disney Princesses had $4 billion in global retail sales last year.
The cocoa-colored doll, which sports a tiara and a flowing blue gown, and is roughly the size of a Barbie, is expected to sell for about the same $10 to $15 as Barbie. Disney hopes it will boost the franchise through rough times. The $22 billion toy industry saw sales fall about 3% last year, and sales of dolls dropped a hefty 8%, according to the Toy Industry Association.
Though Princess Tiana was on the drawing board long before Barack Obama was elected the nation's first black president, marketing experts say she signals a growing awareness by industries from toymakers to cosmetic companies that diversity is critical in a nation where people of color will be the majority in little more than 30 years.
"It's very significant," says Lisa Skriloff, president of Multicultural Marketing Resources. "It's like a stamp of approval for one of the most outstanding family (entertainment) companies to say this is important."
Tiana, whose story will come to the big screen later this year in the animated musical The Princess and the Frog, is the first princess introduced by Disney since Mulan in 1998.
Disney executives say that they did not set out to make a social statement.
"It was much more about the storytelling," says Kathy Franklin, vice president, global studio franchise development for Disney Consumer Products. "This was not about a conscious decision to say we need an African-American princess."
Yet, industry watchers say that when Princess Tiana dolls hit stores in the fall, they will bring diversity to a marketplace where it's been sorely lacking.
"I think we're going to see more
Mattel, which has the license to create the Princess Tiana dolls, is planning to release its own line of black dolls in September. Part of the Barbie family, the So In Style dolls are being touted as having a more authentic appearance, from their hair to their varying skin tones.
Disney, which has had great success with its Princess franchise, predicts that sales will surge with the arrival of Tiana.
"We expect our sales of Princess Tiana products to be significant, and not just to African-American households," says Franklin.
As with her fellow princesses, Tiana merchandise will range from Halloween costumes to backpacks. There are plans for Tiana-theme MP3 players and digital cameras to be in stores by the end of the year, and a line of Princess Tiana and The Princess and the Frog books will go on sale this fall.
By Georg Szalai
The Hollywood Reporter
Feb 16, 2009, 04:50 PM ET
Anika Noni Rose
NEW YORK -- Walt Disney Co.'s consumer products unit had Tony Award-winning actress-singer Anika Noni Rose ("Dreamgirls") on hand Monday as it unveiled a toy line inspired by upcoming animated holiday feature "The Princess and the Frog."
Protagonist Princess Tiana, voiced by the Broadway star, is Disney's first new princess since Mulan in 1998 and its first black princess.
It is expected to inject new excitement into the 10-year-old Disney Princess franchise, which brought in $4 billion in retail sales last year, said Kathy Franklin, vp global studio franchise development at Disney Consumer Products.
Monday's sneak preview of toys created in collaboration with Mattel and Jakks Pacific unit CDI drew a large industry and press crowd at the American International Toy Fair here.
It also featured several minutes of unfinished and never-before-seen footage from the film that is set to bring back musicals and 2-D animation to the Disney family.
Rose said she has long been a fan of Disney's fairy tales, adding that it was "a major part" of her growing up and quipping that she is still upset about the death of Bambi's mother. She also said she loves Disney's return to 2-D animation.
With Hollywood franchises out in force at Toy Fair, Disney put the spotlight on the Disney Princess franchise, led by Tiana and the Blu-Ray debut of its first-ever princess -- introduced in 1937 -- "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in October. Disney said it's the most-requested title from its vault.
Franklin told The Hollywood Reporter that Disney Princess is a franchise older than most in the toy space. The company expects to continue to introduce new princesses and reintroduce older ones over the coming years to keep the franchise fresh, she said.
"Toy Story," whose first installment is re-released in 3-D in the fall, "Cars," "Hannah Montana," "High School Musical" and the growing Disney Fairies franchise are also among the featured brands at Toy Fair, which Monday drew camera crews from the likes of Fox News Channel and local NBC station WNBC.
Retail sales of Disney toys and other merchandise rose to a record $30 billion globally for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, making it the consumer-products leader among entertainment giants.
Meet Anika Noni Rose: Disney's First Animated Black Princess
By Allie Gross
Originally posted Thursday February 19, 2009 08:30 AM EST
Anika Noni Rose
Photo by: Sara Jaye Weiss / Startraks
Jumping from the stage to the world of animation, Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose takes on her most enchanting and monumental role yet: Princess Tiana, Disney's first animated black princess.
"This feels amazing," Rose, 36, told PEOPLE this week at the Manhattan unveiling of the toy line for The Princess and the Frog. "Not only is she the first black princess, she's the first American princess. So, the scope and the significance is larger than people even realize."
Rose, who costarred with Jennifer Hudson in the 2006 film Dreamgirls, also had comforting words for her former costar, who recently suffered an overwhelming family tragedy.
"She knows she has my support and if she ever were to need me, she's got me," said Rose. "Sometimes you've just got to let people know that you're there, and then let go, and then people come to you when they are ready."
In the meantime, Rose is enjoying her newfound role as "Princess of America."
"I'm not like, skipping down the street with it, but when you take a moment and you think about the fact that this is what America has chosen to put out as Princess-hood, Princess-dom, it's amazing," she said.
In The Princess and the Frog, set in New Orleans, Tiana's mother is voiced by Oprah Winfrey.
Rounding out Disney's multicultural royalty (see below) are Mulan, from China; Pocahontas, who is Native American; and, from the Middle East, Jasmine.
Disney has announced that their 2D animated musical THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG will have a New York/Los Angeles premiere on November 25 and open nationwide on Dec. 11 -- up two weeks from its original Christmas Day release.
Christmas Day is also the release of Fox's ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKUEL, so it will have more breathing room on Dec. 11, where the only competition so far is the DreamWorks/Paramount thriller THE LOVELY BONES from Peter Jackson.
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is a magical fairytale set in New Orleans that marks Disney's return to musicals and 2D hand drawn animation. Embodying the timelessness of Disney's storytelling heritage, the film also introduces Disney's newest princess in more than 10 years, Princess Tiana.
Bob Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, announced the change at Tuesday's annual shareholder meeting in Oakland, California.
Source: Edward Douglas Comingsoon.net April 1, 2009
Disney's second slot at this year's ShoWest was designated for a sneak preview of the new Touchstone romantic comedy The Proposal (June 19), but as promised a day earlier, the company used it to preview two of its upcoming 2D movies, The Princess and the Frog and Old Dogs, both opening over Thanksgiving weekend.
The Princess and the Frog is Disney's long-awaited return to 2D hand-drawn animation, which promises a lot of the things that long-time fans of Disney animated films have long cherished: comedy, romance, talking animals and musical numbers (provided by Randy Newman).
Disney previewed the movie with a scene shown in its unfinished state involving Princess Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose of Dreamgirls) and her co-star, the frog, formerly Prince Naveen (voiced by Bruno Campos), meeting for the first time.