Disney Hopes to Return to More Classical 2D Animation

The Princess and the Frog will be bringing us to something old and something new. The first black “Disney Princess” character will be introduced and it also marks a return to the classical animation style that Disney is so well known for.

News today also shares that this is not a one shot deal and that Disney hopes to produce more classic hand drawn animated features!

Firstshowing shares:

Walt Disney Animation Studios visual effects supervisor Marlon West, who has spent the last few years working on Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. While he did share a few short behind-the-scenes videos showing his work in that movie so far, the biggest bit of news to come out of the presentation came during the question and answer session, where West mentioned that Disney is looking to continue making one 2D hand drawn animated movie once every two or so years from now on

I find it interesting that in a world where the technology is redefining the landscape for animated features, that such pioneers like Disney (and in part to their relationship) and Pixar would consider taking a step that some might consider backwards.

I was intrigued to find out that they were producing another classical animated feature, though clearly helped out with less traditional digital methods, but now to find out that they had so much fun going old school that they intend to continue releasing this style of animation.

And why not? Now that Disney and Pixar have kissed and made up, do they really need to have their own 3d animation studio? I figured that Disney would leave the animating up to Pixar and they would focus more on their own live action features but I am really looking forward to seeing what comes out of this.

As for the Princess and the Frog, I haven’t seen much about it aside from the style of animation behind it, so I have no idea if this will herald a return to cinematic gold like Aladdin or Lion King, but hopefully it will mean they will do this instead of direct to DVD sequels.

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74 thoughts on “Disney Hopes to Return to More Classical 2D Animation







  2. Does anyone know of a Disney movie about segregation? It is not Ruby Bridges. My students told about it a few years ago and I can’t remember the name.

    thanks in advance

  3. Disney should begin making the Classic Movies that grew up with all of us and leave CGI animation to Pixar (Anyone liked Chicken Little!?!?!?! – my god Disney please STOP trying to imitate others and DO WHAT YOU ARE BEST!!!).
    And I don’t care about the opinion of today’s children that only want to see CGIs! These are the same children that have never seen Lion King, Beauty & Beast and so on …
    Disney STOP FEEDING US CRAP and START releasing some good old crazy and DEEP stories that the whole world loves!

    (I too love CGI movies, but in a 5 or 6 year period disney plans to release 5 CGI movies and only 1 -pricess & frog .. guessing a crapy story..- classic animation movie) I mean, the US is the main maket BUT GET OUT OF THE CLOSET AND YOU’LL SE THAT THE WORLD WANTS AND NEEDS more movies like the old ones…

  4. Well, this ongoing debate has been very facinating. I just hadn’t looked at entertainment that way before; in terms of role models and what they will mean for the next generation. But here’s my opinion.

    Any well-crafted character is widely empathetical. People should be able to relate to him almost universally, not just because of his skin color or nationality. A viewer relating to a character of his own nationality should be but a by-product of good storytelling. Not the goal.

    Does anyone recall the recent Resident Evil 5 scandal? People flipped out because the zombies in that game are African Americans. Strange, because it seems these people didn’t take these things into account:

    1. RE5 takes place in Africa.

    2. Well, basically all other nationalities of zombies have been done before.

    Seriously. In Resident Evil 4 the zombies were specifically Europeans. No one cried, “Racism!” then. Turns out, when one of the game’s producers was confronted, his statement was, to paraphrase, “It’s in no way racism. The choice for the game to take place in Africa was essential for the story. I know people are upset about this, but…we can’t please everyone.”

    They had considered the ramifications previously, but decided it was essential that it take place in Africa. Sometimes, these racial things are just by-products of the story, not the main goal. Disney has been very racially diverse in their storytelling, but only because they wanted to tell different kinds of stories, like Aladdin and Pocahontas.

    It was never the main goal to simply please everybody systematically, so it makes absolutely no sense at all to try and hold them to it.

    1. I disagree… I know a TON of people who will be going to see this movie simply BECAUSE its a return to the classic style. How many crappy CGI movies have come out in the past few years?

  5. Pman ur right.. and i totally changed my stance from my first rant about watching the movie. Thanks for looking at both arguments. and thank u for having the compacity to see both point of views.

  6. Oh snap. You went there! lol

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion… But yours is a little too extreme in this case. Just trying to bring you towards the middle…

    1. Wow! What a debate. As an African American Man, I’d like to add as few things. Not that being black makes me an expert on racism or makes my opinion any more valid. It’s just my opinion. As a grandfather of my own young black princess, I’m glad that Disney is making a movie with a black princess as the lead. My granddaughter loves Disney’s movies and it’s important for children to have positive representations that they identify with on a personal level. I think that what Cody was trying to say is that it’s good for children to see someone that looks like them in the roles they love. Thrust me, I’ve had a child ask if all princesses have long strait hair or are all they all white or fair skinned. These are the images that our children are shown. True, there have been other images; Mulan and Pocahontas come to mind and those were great, but now my little princess will have someone that looks even more like her. I look at this much in the way I view the Obama presidency. Obama being elected means that parents of all colors can now honestly tell their children that anyone can be president, not just white men.

      Cody my friend, let me just say that negative reinforcement rarely works. Instead of saying “it’s about time and what took so long” I say be the first in line to see the movie and see it multiple times. Let Disney know that using characters of color is a good idea, so they’ll do it more. It’s not always about racism my friend, it’s about MONEY. Haven’t you noticed a lot more black family movies being released since the success of the Tyler Perry movies, money. Besides if you were going to boycott every studio that ever put a negative representation of a racial group in one of their pictures, you’d never watch a movie again.

      Sorry for the long rant folks. I just wanted to share my take on things.

    2. PMan, Disney has always used ethnic diversity in their films. Getting in line and seeing this movie over and over wont send that message to Disney.

      And the rise of “black family movies” has been popular since Diff’rent Strokes the Cosby show and the BET network. You make it sound like Tyler Perry invented black characters 5 years ago. All he has is one overly stereotyped character and a gimmick. Has nothing to do with being black.

    3. Oh, I agree completely that kids need role models no matter what, i just find it disconcerting that many times the role models have to be the same skin color… why cant a black child have a white role model? Or vice versa? Why cant an Asian admire a Latino?

      And I don’t mean to be negative, but the folks at Disney aren’t going to see your multiple movie tickets as a sign that they need to have more black main characters… if anything, becuase of the style of this movie, they are going to try to put out more hand-drawn films, or maybe bring back the fairy tale genre that has been absent for a while now. The movie isn’t about being black or white or blue or green, just like none of the other Disney animated movies have been… its about making your dreams come true. Thats it.

    4. Rodney, I never said that Disney’s movies haven’t been diverse. To be honest, it seems like most of their recent movies have used either characters of color or animals. I was speaking mainly about the fact that the lead in this film is black. Truthfully it wouldn’t matter to me if the princess were black, white, brown or blue. She’s a Disney Princess and my little one is going to want to see her and own the DVD when it comes out. Having the lead character be someone that looks more like her than other Disney characters in the past is just a plus. You’re right though, it might not show Disney anything, but maybe other studios will follow Disney’s lead.

      As far as black family movies go, I have to disagree with you. They have not been as popular as you say, since Good Times. They’ve come in ebbs and flows since the 70s. Yes, they’ve always been produced, but not in the numbers that we’re seeing now. I’m not crediting Tyler Perry with inventing anything. I don’t really like his movies. What I do see though is an influx of black family movies since the success of his films. The same thing happened when Terry McMillan had success with “How Stella Got Her Grove Back” or Ice Cube with the Barber Shop movies. I could be wrong, but I’d bet having these movie be successful makes it easier for other movies of their genre to get financed.

    5. @Buff, this is exactly how I feel. Instead of focusing on the “its about time” or making a big issue out of it calling Disney evil, why not grow out of the issue altogether.

      I have grown up in a diverse cultured city, almost to the point where I could say I was the minority. And when I took my kids to see Hairspray (a movie that takes place in a racially segregated era) I had to take the time to explain to my kids why the black kids were treated differently. They just didn’t get it.

      That whole element of the plot was LOST on them because it never occurred to them that skin colour means anything.

    6. Movie Buff in the Buff,
      Please understand that I’m not saying that a child should only have role models that are the same race or color as them. That would be crazy. I’ve personally had many role models and mentors in my work and personal life and they’ve run the veritable racial spectrum. I’ve also tried to instill the same beliefs in my son and other young men I’ve mentored over the years. I’ve always told them to find a successful person, not just a successful black person but a person, in their chosen profession and learn from them. I do believe that what’s important is not the color of your skin but what’s in your heart. I applaud you guys for not seeing this as a big deal, it’s says a lot about you as people. On other hand though, I’ll still be happy that my little princess will get to see a character on the screen that looks like her or reminds her of her mommy.

  7. Ok… your glasses need to be cleaned then.

    The thing about youtube? Anybody can post just about anything they want. Its freedom of speech. Darth Vader is on there singing “Chocolate Rain.” Might want to get a different source. Naive… please…

  8. movie buff in the buff i see that we both see these same things through different glasses.
    Im not saying ur wrong. but i am saying that i think ur a bit naive.

    thank u for ur debate though

    im not a fan of youtube but i typed the roustabouts in and got this video of ironically Racism in Disney.Maybe someone will watch this and see my side. All my arguements are there.

  9. Man, I was scared to death they were going to stop after ‘Princess’. I know ‘Rapunzel’ has been in development hell, but they do amazing work with 2-D. And it’s not really taking a step backwards. Did painting disappear when the camera was invented? :)

    I’m excited and scared to death for this. The concept art I’ve seen is stunning and if they pull this off, it will be so great to have things back on track. (Although I’m really intrigued to see what a Pixar 2-D film would look like.)

  10. When i started writing i was a bit heated
    but lets be honest if i remember uncle remus talked and acted like a slave.
    Have u ever heard about the disney song the roustabouts. Check it out.
    Or how about the dancing top hatted crows.. I believe one name was JIM CROW
    Remember Fantasia.. not the redux the original where theres blond haired blue eyed centaur with black centaur servants. How about disneys portrayal of of asians before mulan

    guys are the ones who need to wake up
    Disney has a history of racism in its images

    we should all know this

    im addressing that. I think they need to be held accountable for the images of their past

    and u guys are taking up for them without pointing out the facts

    1. Uncle Remus talked and acted like a slave because the character, at one point WAS ONE. Its called acting! The story takes place in Antebellum South!

      And the Roustabout song? How does that have anything to do with racism? A roustabout, by DEFINITION is “a circus laborer who helps in setting up and taking down the tents and in caring for the animals, equipment, and grounds.”

      And I suppose Jim Crow was meant to be about segregation? I mean, god forbid they give a crow the a last name that matches his species with a first name that is one of the more common ones in America! Its a coincidence!

      As for the Fantasia “servant,” yes. They recognized that as racist. And they removed it in the late sixties because they recognized what it was. At the time the movie was released, however, you will find that such caricatures were common across the board in the entertainment and advertising industries. And I’m sorry… where is the racism against Asians? I’ve searched my memory banks but cant think of any outside of the Miley Cyrus scandal.

  11. They are open.. but i think u guys are not seeing it form my view.. but i understand
    i sat in ur shoes ive listened to ur arguements.
    but i still feel that disney to represent all of america. I think they’ve had ample opprotunity to tell stories. and they have.. i just think they should have told a story with a black main character a long time ago. I love mulan, alladin, and all the others.
    But my question is and will always be… why did it take them so long
    I know u guys cant answer… id love to know why from disney

    1. They have had black main characters… are you sure you “sat in our shoes?” We’re trying to see what you see, but we don’t live in a place where the other African and African influenced characters are invisible until now. You know Uncle Remus? His character was on screen in 1946… And he is the singer of one of the most well-known Disney songs of all time? Ever heard it? Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah? We HAVE been answering… you just aren’t listening.

  12. Oh and to Movie Buff in the buff. You should read abou the study by Kenneth and Mamie Clarke examing self-esteem in african american culture. It an intresting read. It might help u understand my arguement a bit. Take care though and thanks for the debate

  13. Maybe i am looking a little too deep.
    But i am happy this film is here.
    I wont lie though
    it still bothers me
    My eyes are open… but i feel this a bit too late
    But i thank u guys for ur debate

    1. You sure have turned around from your first post man… You didn’t seem to be too happy with Diney at ALL. But hey, if you’re “eyes” are really “open” then welcome to reality.

    1. Haha, are you sure?

      As far as I’m concerned, Lasseter is playing a huge role in returning the company to its values that Michael Eisner so abruptly dismissed. He’s playing a HUGE role in the rejuvination of the parks in addition to allowing the animators to really care about their craft instead of making them focus on making it cheap and fast to make a quick buck.

  14. This is ALL due to John Lasseter since he was placed as Chief Creative Officer of Disney animation. Most of the Pixar guys (including Lasseter) were trained in traditional 2D animation; their love for that medium + Lasseter’s new creative power = more 2D animation.

  15. If your answer that representation of black america was covered by the characters in the lion king then u prove my argument correct. The emperors new grove was a a story of Latin descent but why did it take them that long to do that story. There are stories from people of all nationalities that get covered by Disney
    my question is. and i WOULD LOVE FOR SOMEONE TO ANSWER THIS why did it take Disney this long to discover a story of African descent?

    Shit is doesn’t have to be a fairytale
    There are other Disney stories that aren’t fairy tales.

    It annoys me that u guys fail to see that disney taking this long is a bit bothering.
    And for the person who said it’s not disney’s responsibility to teach cultural diversity, but is it there responsibility to teach morality?
    Because its all over their cartoon

    I had this debate in class a few weeks ago.
    Can someone please tell me why?

    And this is to Buff in the Buff: My niece is of many cultures. She’s 6 her skin is the shade of toffee. I tell her she’s beautiful all the time. She’s my princess. The images she sees as a child will shape our outlook. I need her to see a woman of color in her fairytales. I need her to see it because it is important to me that she understands that beauty comes in all forms. I need her to see that she can be a princess too.
    As a man i will do my best to show her
    but the world and everyone it should do the same

    You guys may not understand me.
    But u must agree it took them too long

    1. Ok… you want Disney movie based on another culture that is NOT any of the number of examples we already gave you? That happened BEFORE the 90s? I’ll take you all the way back to 1943 and 1945. TWO theatrical releases back-to-back based almost ENTIRELY on Latin cultural traditions. Those were the sixth and seventh full-length animated movies that Disney EVER did. Are you going to start whining how Snow White wasn’t Snow Black now? Pull your head out. It hasn’t taken anywhere NEAR as long as you think it has. And why do you want so badly for your child to see a role model that is “of color?” What… she can’t just pick any role model, regardless of their skin color? Jesus Christ… you need a reality check my friend… you’re fighting against and supporting racism at the same time.

    2. Why did it take this long before they did a story about a frog. Dammit, ever since Kermit they have just been avoiding the issue!

      Screw them insensitive Disney people and their racial and cultural cowardice!!!!!

      Do you even listen to yourself? This character is black and isn’t even representing any specific culture. She is part of a subsect of American blend of French Canadians settlers that established a presence in Southern Louisianna and intermixed with a number of races that already existed in the area. She’s a Cajun.

      But thank god they FINALLY told a story about a black person as the main character.

      You dont understand the issue. Its not a matter of “taking this long” as you seem so determined to label the evil Disney producers of.

      This is you making a big deal out of nothing. Funny that when Little Mermaid came around and the first Redheaded Princess was introduced there wasn’t a heaping pile of minority carrot topped citizens ranting about “Why did it take this long!!!”

      There is already more than enough “colour” in the fairy tales. Disney has already taken us around the world with dozens of cultures.

      Disney has been carrying this “small world” international village concept long before you were born, and if it FINALLY comes to this one character before you can accept that, then it is YOU who has taken too long to open your eyes.

  16. Matt K,

    Yup. Major Pwnage.

    And no worries! I covered Aladdin… I mentioned Jasmine and Middle Eastern culture in there somewhere… I think…. yep. Yep I did.

  17. OK final comment people
    Im not making this a race issue
    I say this for the last time
    it took disney too long
    every child deserves to see the potrayal of their people shown in a positive way.
    We all have beautiful fairytales that we remember from our fairytale.
    Im happy Disney is making this move. and i can’t wait til they make one of a contemporary latin story(please dont say the emperors new groove)
    Cinderella and snow white are both stories that most little girls attribute romance and beauty to. I just feel that its good to see a story where we see(our children) see different shades of beauty, different stories that are not our own.
    When we show our children different cultures we destroy bigotry and racism.
    Disney is the leader in child entertainment and im upset it took them this long.

    1. Hate to tell you, but Emperors New Groove IS a contemporary Latin story. Mayan/Inca history and culture is HUGE in the Middle Americas.

      Sure, it has taken Disney a while to have an African American in a “Princess” role, but there are several flaws in your argument: Up until recently, around the late 90’s(and I discussed this before), the Disney movies that were based on fairytales were set in the country that the story originated in, which were countries populated by people of the Caucasian persuasion. There were no persons of African descent that were kings/queens/princesses/knights. The Princess and the Frog is following a new trend in Disney animation where the fairy tale that the story is based upon is given a twist (i.e.- The Emperors New Groove is the Emperors New Clothes, Lilo and Stitch is the Ugly Duckling, etc…), and the twist happens to include a Black person as the princess. If culture is the true issue here and not race (please make up your mind about that) there have been a NUMBER of different cultures represented in Disney movies (France, England, America, unspecified Middle East, and Africa). They made a freaking RIDE about celebrating cultural heritage! And I STILL can’t get the damn song out of my head. And finally, there have been characters in the princess roles already in their movies. Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan… Get with the program man!

      It is not Disney’s intention to promote cultural diversity, and they STILL end up doing it. Disney was built upon the premise that everyone can have a dream and if they really, truly believe, their dream can come true.
      Suck it up and take your Niece to see a movie that is ATUALLY going to be about accepting people for who they are and not what they look like. If you don’t believe me, go read the damned fairy tale is based on. And, as a side note? If you want people to take you seriously when you’re trying to make your point, try spell-check.

    2. I have an issue with you saying this is not a racial issue then spew nonsense like “potrayal of their people”.

      You ARE making it a racial/cultural issue. You are disturbed by Disney accusing them of dominating a Caucasian standard while they have been long telling stories from cultures all over the world. You say its too long since they choose this particular culture while ignoring that for decades they have been adopting all cultures.

      You want a “black” culture? Well then we would have to go to Africa. But then Lion King already addressed tribal spiritualism in a story but that wasn’t good enough. Now we finally have a black character that is not in the environment of her ancestral heritage and you are accusing them of taking too long to get to it?

      You know what is taking too long? People getting over this race thing. I am so happy we are above racial division, but if people treat everyone like they are the same all we get is “why is it taking so long for people to see we are different?”

      You wouldn’t be happy either way.

  18. Uncle remus…? The hyenas? really
    my annoyance with disney is not that they dont have black chracters, im just upset that it took them till 2009 to blacks representation. I feel that it should be done a long long time ago.
    I’m not from the 60s.. hell im not even black… Im just saying that Disney is way behind on my morality meter. I think all nationalities should have their stories represented. And im upset it took disney this long.

    OK so they didnt do it to capitalize of obama
    I find it extremly perlexing that it took them this long.

    1. How’s the view from up there on your horse?

      Are you really that oversensitive to including a black person in the lead??

      I guess hiring dozens of black actors was not enough to make up for the decades of slavery the black people endured, and now that they have a black person in a main role, you have to moan about that too?

      Seriously. Stop trying to make this a race issue.

  19. The last time the Mouse House went back to 2D was a picture that took me by surprise that I actually liked- The Emperor’s New Groove mostly because I thought the character voiced by David Spade was funny. Some of the antics also bore a slight passing in spirit to some of WB cartoons, like Wile E Coyote and Road Runner. When that came out on DVD, I made it a point to get the Deluxe Ultimate Groove Edition, which had tons of extras regarding the making of a 2D animation film.

    …and then a few years pass, and Disney gets on my bad side. Once when my niece came to visit, she wanted to watch The Disney Channel. I turn on the cable, and lo, the TV spinoff which, not unlike the DTV sequels that water down the original film, cheapen the love of those characters.

    Black, white, green or teal, it makes no difference; I’m willing to bet that the Frog gets its share of hackjob by the numbers DTV release follow ups until the well is dry. It is also ironic that Disney wants to return to 2-D, seeing how they gave out pink slips to such animators earlier this decade.

  20. Heck yes, Disney finally jumps off the ‘it needs to be CG to make a profit’ bandwagon. 2D animation can be beautiful and isn’t a ‘kids’ medium – just look at recent Japanese films such as Paprika and Tekkonkinkreet.

  21. I think its great that, after ending the reign of the Eisner the Terrible, Disney is able to return to their classical animation. I read an article about a year ago where the author interviewed John Lassiter. Lassiter, once the head of Pixar, had just been made head of all animation for Disney. He made a point of noting that Each project would have the freedom to choose whether they wanted to present their respective projects in 2D or 3D. Freedom and the return to having well-crafed movies that aren’t build for the sole purpose of making money to go in Eisner’s pocket! Horray!

  22. I find it disgusting that Disney picks now to portray and promote a black character. Rather then be pioneers they choose to capitalize on America love for our new president. Disney cares not. Their portrayal of blacks is despicable. For years they made is their duty to only celebrate mainstream looks. I’m not taking my niece to see any of this crap. Though my boycott may lead to a absence of future black cartoon charaters in their cartoon but id much rather wait for someone who creates a cartoon simply because its a great story. Disney is makes me puke

    1. Whoa, chill dude! They aren’t trying to capitalize off of Obama… they’ve been working on this film for a little over two years, and the character has been black since the beginning. Its true that they are a little “late” in having a black princess, but up until now most of their princess flicks have taken place in the setting that their respective fairy tales had originated… This time they are simply taking a classic fairytale and giving it a different setting. And what portrayal of blacks in their movies is so despicable?

    2. Yeah, Cody is still got his head in the 60s where Song of the South was so critically bashed for its portrayal of Blacks. I love how he makes blatant generalizations like “their duty to celebrate mainstream looks” when Disney has always had a long tradition of films that celebrate diversity. Clearly he knows nothing of Disney.

      He is just presuming to carry on his anti-disney rant.

      This character has been black for 2 years, long before Obama was ever on the campaign trail. The character is black because of the setting. It takes place in Baton Rouge, and the “princess” is a cajun black woman.

      If they made her white he would complain she isn’t black. They make her black and he calls them patronizing. He just wants to be negative for the sake of being negative.

    3. And even Uncle Remus (One of the main characters in Song of the South) is one of the most celebrated Disney live-action characters! True, there were some slight discrepencies in the way the black people were portrayed, but it was a period piece set in the Antebellum(sp?) South! Common Cody… do a little thinking or research before you bash something…

  23. Didn’t they have black dudes in Aladdin, Beauty & Beast, etc.? 2-D kicks ass, too bad I’m too old for it, now it’s for kids, little blokes…

  24. best disney movies ever

    not in order

    lion king
    toy story 2
    beauty and the beast (f.u. i liked it…)

    by the way..on the black character topic…
    ive always pictured the hyenas from the lion king to be black and those hyenas fucking ruled…

    also muphasa is black!

    and all the monkeys from tarzan! and those mokeys were awesome (especially the head gorilla that didnt like tarzan)

    1. I’d say so too…except for TS2. Toy Story 2 is good for sure, but it’s not great. Not in the same way Lion King, Mulan, Wall-E, B&B and Pinocchio were. And by the way, Wall-e and Toy Story aren’t Disney–they’re Pixar. These days, Disney isn’t half of what Pixar is.

  25. im glad disney decided to finally embrace how beautiful 2d animation can be….cg animation is cool and all but with modern technology they can create truly beautiful pieces of 2d animation….

  26. first black main character…..disney is so groundbreaking….40 years too late …it would be sad if out of no where they get all stereotyped out haha….i could see the mayhem insue

    1. There have been LOTS of black characters, but this is the first one that is one of the “Disney Princess” characters.

      Having a black character is not groundbreaking, but its the first of their Disney Princesses to be Black, so it means something.

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