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Box Office Mojo: What is the theme of The Jungle Cruise movie?
Dick Cook: There will be a family involved. The skipper will play a very important role. He'll be more of an Indiana Jones kind of guy, with a little Jack Sparrow in him, who's going to be able to take this family on an adventure that they never dreamed they were going to be on when they first got on board. In true Disney fashion, it will definitely have the adventure and the intensity—but also the heart and the fun. We hope we have a good outline of where we want to go and what we want to do with it in the next year.
Box Office Mojo: Do you have a script?
Dick Cook: Not yet. It's being worked on. David Hoberman, whom we have asked to produce it, has been hard at work. He knows that it's a top priority for us—one that we're very, very excited about. It's a real tentpole [picture]. He'll deliver it and when he does, it will be something special.
Box Office Mojo: We know that the Jungle Cruise skipper will not be smoking cigarettes, but will he fire a gun?
Dick Cook: Yes, he'll be able to have a gun but I can promise you he won't be smoking a cigarette.
Box Office Mojo: How does banning smoking from its movies profit Walt Disney Pictures?
Dick Cook: It doesn't profit us. Hopefully, it's another signal to families that—if there's any linkage at all, even the slightest, between seeing someone portrayed smoking and having a young person begin to smoke, we don't want to be a part of that. It's showing our social responsibility to families and individuals that [smoking is] a real scourge that kills people. If we can even do a small, tiny part of prohibiting that from starting, we've done a good thing.
Box Office Mojo: Will you omit Pinocchio smoking in future releases?
Dick Cook: No. We're not taking away from anything that's already been done. We're not taking smoking away from Cruella in 101 Dalmatians—that's just a part of it and that's history. We're not going to have smoking in a Disney movie going forward.Box Office Mojo: Will the Treasures DVD series continue?
Dick Cook: Yes.
Box Office Mojo: Has the Tru-Life Adventures DVD series sold well?
Dick Cook: They're doing fine. I think that they will end up doing well over time as an evergreen. We're really excited about doing more things in the nature area. We have so much of a heritage in that area.
Box Office Mojo: There will be another release of the Tru-Life DVD series?
Dick Cook: Yes.Box Office Mojo:When is Song of the South coming out on DVD?
Dick Cook: I don't know. We've definitely given it a lot of thought. When we do Song of the South, we have to do it in such a sensitive, smart way and be very respectful.
Box Office Mojo: Disney released Lady and the Tramp with the Italian, the Russian and the Siamese cats, Peter Pan with the Indians—with not a whiff of controversy. Why should Song of the South be treated any differently—why not ask Leonard Maltin to introduce its context on DVD and be done with it?
Dick Cook: It's finding that way of introducing it that would be the most effective. It's a great movie, a great piece of art. It's a part of our history and our heritage. I'm sure at some point in time it will find its way—we're just trying to think of the right and proper way of getting it out there. We'll find the right balance of being respectful and honoring the work that has been done.Box Office Mojo: Studio businessmen are often regarded as people who say no to the detriment of the movie. Can you give an example where saying no—or yes—but in either case an instance of exercising your judgment that led to a creatively enhanced scene?
Dick Cook: Sure. The most recent example would be on the movie Enchanted. It became very clear that we could make the movie better if we added a couple of scenes that would solidify a major relationship in the movie—I don't want to spoil the movie—and when [director] Kevin Lima called, and he did an unbelievable job, and articulately stated exactly what he wanted, he was absolutely dead right. There was a sense that we're going to do it though we hadn't budgeted for it.
Box Office Mojo: How much more did that cost?
Dick Cook: Probably another million and a half or two million dollars.
Box Office Mojo: You just said, yes, you get to do it. What was the criteria by which you decided the issue?
Dick Cook: He was right and I could see that. He was dead right in what the movie needed. We knew this movie was going to be something special—this was going to make it a little better. Yes, it was more expensive, but it would make that movie more special. That's what you do in each case of a movie that's brought to you, [you ask] is it something that's frivolous or is it something about character? I'm much more willing [to extend time or budget], if it's going to enhance the movie—the story—and if it's important to have that scene in the movie. Obviously, it has to pay off.Box Office Mojo: What do you think of Neal Gabler's biography of Walt Disney?
Dick Cook: Certain things are interesting. When he gets into speculation of Walt and his family and some personal [issues], I don't know. I don't think you can always tell in absolute terms what someone was thinking or doing—psychologically—and I'm not so sure that was all there. It certainly captured a moment in time in a person's life. I think some of [Gabler's conclusions about Walt Disney's] motivations are different than reality, according to the people I've talked to who knew Walt well. I don't think Walt Disney was all that calculating. He was a pioneer. He invented an art form, started a company, invested his entire life and fortune into this company, he invented the theme park, the consumer products, the recording business and he built something around ideals that were very, very strong and have stood the test of time. If you look at the body of Walt Disney's work, that's the substance—what an unbelievable pioneer. Who has that kind of guts today to do what he did? I don't know of anybody able to do what he had the nerve to do. It's great that all these years later, the company is named after him. To have that staying power. People just smile when they hear his name.
Box Office Mojo: Does that reflect the idea that the company is good enough to put his name on it?
Dick Cook: Absolutely—and that comes with responsibility. When we put the name Walt Disney on a movie, we're putting the reputation there and it's a real person, not some fictional thing, not some name that was made up, it's a human and what that stands for is a huge responsibility. We don't take it lightly.