The Disney Princess Is Back! Sort Of?

Andrew Dalton

Okay, so maybe the princess was only sleeping and she's not dead? They're funny that way. Like zombies or demon dolls, they're kind of unkillable.

Let me backtrack ... Sunday's LA Times said Disney is done with princesses after Tangled, so I proclaimed that the princess is dead. Fair to say since they're done with fairytale flicks altogether for the foreseeable future, setting aside two projects that were in development. For some parents: cheers. Others: tears.

The story quoted Ed Catmull, who now runs Disney animation with John Lasseter:

They may come back later because someone has a fresh take on it ... but we don't have any other musicals or fairy tales lined up.

Well, when the story came out, Catmull took to the Disney Facebook page for some pushback:

A headline in today’s LA Times erroneously reported that the Disney fairy tale is a thing of the past, but I feel it is important to set the record straight that they are alive and well at Disney and continue this week with Tangled, a contemporary retelling of a much loved story. We have a number of projects in development with new twists that audiences will be able to enjoy for many years to come.

That got 12,000 'likes' and counting! And cheers went up throughout the kingdom! So the story's wrong? Not so fast. This is a pretty classic non-denial denial. First, note that he refers only to the headline. In the online edition, it says: "Disney animation is closing the book on fairy tales." Not sure if the one in the paper-paper is different. I actually still get it, but I can't find it in the damn garage. Like most headlines do, it makes the statement a little more boldly than the story, but erroneous? 

Catmull doesn't say he was misquoted or say a word about what might be wrong about the actual text of the story. He works in a plug for Tangled, whose release had nothing whatsoever to do with a story that was all about the company's future plans. And the last sentence is so incredibly vague that the "number of projects in development with new twists" could mean virtually anything. 

It's not as though "fairy tale" has a strict definition. It could refer to the next straight-to-DVD Tinkerbell movie.

I don't think anyone reading the Times story would conclude that no princess story will ever be told by Disney again. That's not how fickle companies work, and everyone knows it. As I said in my post, there was a long fairytale gap already many years ago, which ended in the late '80s when the world fell in love with princesses again. And as I also said, this will have little effect on the ongoing parent-princess negotiations:

You've only got Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan ... oh, and Tiana and Rapunzel, to deal with and fend off now.


Image via Flickr/Mangpages

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