So we've heard the news about the pending demise of Circle 7 and the Pixar sequels and there is rampant speculation about WDFA management and changes in priority at WDI - - but there is one key part of this story that hasn't really been reported on... What will happen to the DisneyToon division led by Sharon Morrill, makers of the direct-to-video sequels of Walt's animated classics (Bambi 2, Cinderella 3 and the like).
That division is sort of the big elephant in the room, an embarrassment to Walt Disney's legacy and brand equity. I can't imagine the Pixar guys would want to support such an endeavor, with products that have often demeaned the characters and tarnished the reputations of the evergreen originals.
For several years rumors have circulated of secret development on a Snow White sequel in CGI - - something Walt repeatedly stated he did not want to happen. I should think that now it won't - - but what of the rest of the operation?
The management practices of this division are like the anti-Pixar. How many directors, art directors, story heads and others from the animation industry have been fired in the making of any one such endeavor? The division has implemented non-artist producers who direct or co-direct, creative execs as the project visionary? The DisneyToon culture is antithetical to what the old Walt Disney Productions and Pixar have shown to be the successful way to create commercial art in animation with the quality and invention of dedicated cartoon professionals as leaders. People who understand these types of projects and characters.
One can speak to the importance of a video revenue stream, but sales of those sequels are finally dropping (Tarzan 2, Lilo 2 reportedly slumped in sales). In the bigger picture, the negative impact on the bottom line could be greater than the short-term gains.
Also, there is no reason that charming original projects with lower budgets and intentions or good cartoonist-driven stories of classic supporting or spin-off characters (rather than official sequels, prequels and continuations) couldn't fill out the DVD bill. This could become a great training ground for new talent, characters or ideas, much like the shorts and package features in olden days.
Wouldn't it seem the most effective and merciful thing to just close that entire division and make any potential such projects part of Disney Pixar proper with suitable creative leads? That particular brand of Eisner-era bottom-line, fear-based, template centered concept, development, production and management should not be left to fester in the growing creative, optimistic climate that Pixar promises to bring to Buena Vista St.