Disney originally planned on naming their new CGI animated movie Rapunzel instead of Tangled. Their shift in name change came shortly after The Princess and the Frog unfortunately flopped in theaters worldwide. Disney wanted to steer away from the Princess storyline. The creator Glen Keane, who is the son of Family Circus creator Bil Keane, was the major push behind making the story of Rapunzel into a major Disney film. This post will talk about the troubles Disney has had with the making of the Rapunzel-inspired movie.
Disney wanted to turn Rapunzel into another Disney princess movie following in the line of classics such as Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. They thought this would be a hit in the movie theaters but since The Princess and the Frog did poorly in theaters, Disney felt the need to revamp the name and story line. Even though the Disney Princesses merchandise line earned $3.4 billion dollars in 2006 alone, Disney thought that they needed the change away from the Princess theme. Glen Keane “struggled for many years to bring Rapunzel to the big screen.” The story will be more like Tarzan or Aladdin where the boy is just as important or even more important than the Princess. Glen Keane has worked on both Aladdin and Tarzan so it may not be a a bad change shifting the story line away from Princess based.
Glen Keane is named, “animation’s version of a rock star,” so no matter what the changes are, I am sure the film will be animated well and the story line will hopefully be better than The Princess and the Frog.
When Keane proposed the retelling of Rapunzel to Walt Disney Feature Animation head David Stainton and Disney CEO Michael Eisner. They had two conditions that needed to be met before they allowed the animation to go forward. They said the story had to be a “fractured fairy tale” similar to DreamWorks’ Shrek. This would mean modernizing the story and making it into a spin on a classic fairytale. This first condition obviously prevents the Rapunzel-inspired story from being a classic damsel in distress princess story where the brave man comes to save the day. The second condition was that it needed to be CGI animated since cel animation was not doing well anymore and they saw how Pixar and DreamWorks were succeeding with their CGI films. Also at this point in the process the name of the film was “Rapunzel Unbraided,” a very fitting name for the remix of a classic story.
Glen Keane was upset over the order to make the film, CGI instead of hand drawn. He noted in 2005, “After all, I was the guy who kept saying ‘I’ll kill any person that tries to take a pencil out of my hand.’ Now I have to eat those words.” Keane was a big proponent for keeping with cel animation but was forced to get into the CGI animation in order to survive at Disney. In 2006 John Lasseter from Pixar, who inspired Glen Keane, became his boss. Lasseter wanted to change the Rapunzel story into a classic fairytale much like Disney classic Princess stories.
Lasseter and Keane compromised and decided to lose “Unbraided” from the title and make the story a more modern heroine story. Rapunzel is voiced by Mandy Moore and her costar male figure is Flynn Ryder voiced by Zachary Levi. At this point Dean Wellins, who worked on Iron Giant signed on as co-director.
Now, Rapunzel seemed to be on set for production but problems arose again in 2008 when Glen Keane had to give up his director status because of health issues. “Bolt co-director Byron Howard replaced him, and supplanted Wellins with Nathan Greno. Keane stayed on as executive producer and animation director for Rapunzel.” This was another stepback in the process of making Rapunzel. It went through so many hands that changes were bound to occur again which they did.
This change came about from the change in hands of directors but more so because of the cel animated film The Princess and the Frog not being successful in theaters. Disney thought that the audience the film was geared to was too small. They wanted to include a wider audience like Shrek had attracted. A film that both male and female adults and children could enjoy. Because of this Rapunzel was renamed Tangled in order to advertise the film to both boys and girls. A simple Disney Princess story would not do anymore. Either way the plot of the film turns out to be, it will be beautifully animated through CGI animation.
I will leave you with a synopsis of the film (and some pictures) in order for you to get an idea of what the film will be like. What do you think the Rapunzel-inspired story should be like? Would you rather a classic damsel in distress story or more of a mainstream adventure story?
“When the kingdom’s most wanted (and most charming) bandit is forced to make a deal with the golden-haired, tower-bound teen, the unlikely duo sets off on a hilarious, hair-raising escapade complete with a super-cop horse, an over-protective chameleon, and a gruff gang of pub thugs. The handsome prince Flynn Ryder has sailed through life by looking good, talking fast and being lucky – but when he picks a mysterious and secluded tower as his hideout, it looks like his luck may have run out.
“Flynn is knocked out, tied up and taken hostage by the beautiful and feisty Rapunzel, whose 70 feet of magical, golden hair, which she can use like powerful tentacles, isn’t even the strangest thing about her. Locked-away and lonely, Rapunzel sees this smooth-talking bandit as her ticket out of the tower. One comical kidnapping and a bit of blackmail later, Flynn and his curious captor are off on one of the most tangled tales ever told.” Source.
I responded to James Davis and David Dinnison.