Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Speaking of....

Well, Pixar continues work on Toy Story 3, a film I really don't want to be made, but still, I hope it'll be good. And, yesterday, it was announced that another classic toy will be popping up in the film: Barbie's longtime companion, Ken!

Ken will be voiced by 1989's Batman, Michael Keaton. This isn't the first time Keaton has done a voice in a Pixar film. He voiced the sleazy race car Chick Hicks in Cars.

If Ken is in the film, then that means Barbie is back as well. Barbie will once again be voiced by Jodi Benson, who originated the role in Toy Story 2 and is still best-known as the voice of Ariel, the Little Mermaid.

Toy Story 3 is still on track for a summer 2010 release.

And speaking of The Little Mermaid, today sees the release of the straight-to-DVD film The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, aka The Little Mermaid 3. This is notable because it is Disney's last straight-to-video sequel.

Yup, that's right, Disney's finally pulling the plug on their straight-to-video sequel unit. Ever since they first started popping up in 1996, me and my friends haven't liked the straight-to-video sequels. I believe it was discussing these sequels with my friends where I first heard the term "raping my childhood." Well, it turned out that distaste was shared by a very powerful friend: John Lasetter.

Lasetter, of course, the head of Pixar Animation and, thanks to the Disney/Pixar merger, now the head of Disney Animation. Lasetter is also not a fan of the straight-to-video sequels, only he's not as coarse as to say that they "rape his childhood." I believe Lasetter's words are that their "reduced quality" had the unexpected effect of "devaluing the originals," or some such corporate-speak.

Even though his new position did not put him in charge of the straight-to-video until, Lasetter still stuck his head in their door anyway, and was appalled by what he saw. So, he started throwing his weight around to get things shut down. Little Mermaid 3 was too far along in development, though, to just get shut down. So, after a year of delays and re-working to get it to something that Lasetter found acceptable, it comes out today.

And that's it! A questionable era in Disney animation comes to an end. On the one hand, I want to herald Lasetter as a hero. On the other, I'm sure he looked at box office returns of the Shrek films, the Ice Age films, and his in-development Toy Story 3 and Cars 2, and realized that more money can be made by putting a "reduced quality, original-devaluing" sequel in theatres.

Speaking of sequels to Disney films, in a recent interview, Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, revealed that, back 2001, Disney was considering doing a sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Selick and Nightmare's creator Tim Burton stepped in and shut that down, because apparently Disney was thinking about doing it with computer animation instead of its famous stop-motion animation.

Speaking of The Nightmare Before Christmas, it's out on DVD today...again! IN a brand new, super mega-ultimate 3-disc special edition! Besides all the bonus material from the last special edition, for new stuff you get:

- a new running commentary with director Henry Selick, writer/creator Tim Burton, and composer/Jack's singing voice Danny Elfman.
- a featurette on how they get the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland all-decked out in Nightmare Before Christmas stuff for the holidays
- the original poem, read by Christopher Lee and animated
- a featurette on Disney and Tim Burton's next stop motion animated film, a feature-length version of Burton's short film Frankenweenie.

I tend to shun the double-dips, but this is one I'm going for.

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