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Elves In The Sweatbox

Story sketch for King of the Elves by Ralph Zontag, circa 2007Story sketch for King of the Elves by Ralph Zontag, circa 2007

Steve Hulett from the Animation Guild spent his day at Disney feature animation and has a few tidbits of note.

First, and unsurprising when you consider recent reports, is the fact that merchandise from The Princess and the Frog is selling like gangbusters well before the film even premieres. Disney’s Consumer Products division is usually far, far from my field of interest, but for those of us who love traditional animation and hope to see it spring back to life, this is nothing but good news. This film isn’t a sequel, or franchise, so the fact that millions of little kids already know and love these characters enough to clear shelves of the film’s merchandise means that they’ll be lining up when Princess hits theaters. The fact that the film, by all accounts, appears to be quite good makes the situation just about as perfect as it can get.

Next up is Joe Jump, the previously-abandoned computer animated project that is recently said to have staged a comeback from production limbo. Hulett reiterates that the film has, indeed, been moved from the back burner and has returned to active development.

Sadly, Hulett also reports that King of the Elves is being “retooled”. The long-in-development project, based on the 1953 short story by Philip K. Dick, seems to have gone into turnaround once more. Recent reports indicated that one of the film’s directors had departed the project, and the TAG Blog now confirms that it was director Robert Walker. It’s rumored that a new co-director has joined remaining original director Aaron Blaise on the project. It’s unknown how deep these story problems run or how it might affect the film’s previously-announced 2012 release date. The animation process is indeed a confusing and mysterious one, but hopefully the project will re-emerge from these troubles even stronger than before.

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