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Brave

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Links to threads on upcoming Pixar films Up (2009), Toy Story 3 (2010) and Cars 2 (2011).

It has been observed that every Pixar movie to date has basically been a guys' flick. Yes, sometimes the male protagonists get a fair bit of help from a female sidekick or two (most notably Jessie in Toy Story 2 and Dory in Finding Nemo), and of course there is the occasional significant love interest (e.g. A Bug's Life, Cars, WALL-E), but after ten movies, Pixarland would seem to be a man's world ... or a boy's world ... or both.

That will apparently change, however, when Pixar releases The Bear and the Bow on Christmas Day 2011 (only six months after Cars 2 -- making this the first time Pixar has released two films in the same year). This will be Pixar's 13th movie ... or, if you want to dodge the "unlucky" number, you could ignore the Cars and Toy Story sequels and say it will be Pixar's 10th all-original story.

The Pixar Blog (a fan-based thing, not an official outlet by any means) reports:

The movie, being directed by Brenda Chapman and billed as "Pixar's first fairy tale" is, as we've known for a while, centred around a "brave" Scottish Princess Merida, voiced by Reese Witherspoon.

Brenda Chapman, FWIW, was one of the three directors who worked on 1998's The Prince of Egypt for DreamWorks. And according to Wikipedia, "Chapman is only the third woman ever to direct an animated film (Lotte Reiniger of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, and Arna Selznick of The Care Bears Movie, came before her). She is married to Disney director and animator Kevin Lima." (Lima's credits include 1995's A Goofy Movie, 1999's Tarzan and 2007's Enchanted.)

So, make of that what you will.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Further story synopsis from /Film:

The film stars Reese Witherspoon as the

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Yes, sometimes the male protagonists get a fair bit of help from a female sidekick or two (most notably Jessie in Toy Story 2 and Dory in Finding Nemo), and of course there is the occasional significant love interest (e.g. A Bug's Life, Cars, WALL-E)...

Not to deny the overall point, but I'm not sure I would want to squeeze Elastigirl into either of those two categories. (As flexible as she is.)

And according to Wikipedia, "Chapman is only the third woman ever to direct an animated film (Lotte Reiniger of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, and Arna Selznick of The Care Bears Movie, came before her).

Really? I can think of another one off the top of my head. I wouldn't be surprised if there were still others.

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Marjane Satrapi has co-director credit on Persepolis.

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Mary Ellen Bute was a pioneering animation director, and even just cruising the NFB animated section reveals how many women have long been involved with animation direction. I guess some say this off the beaten track stuff doesn't count, but to each his own.

I wonder how long the list is when anime is also included.

Edited by MLeary

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SDG wrote:

: Not to deny the overall point, but I'm not sure I would want to squeeze Elastigirl into either of those two categories. (As flexible as she is.)

I almost said Elastigirl belongs to BOTH categories, actually: she is both a love interest AND a sidekick (or at least a fellow combatant). But, as diffused as the movie's attention may be among the various family members, I think it's fair to say the movie's primary focus is still on the husband and his frustrations (at work, at home, etc.).

MLeary wrote:

: I guess some say this off the beaten track stuff doesn't count, but to each his own.

Well, that's the funny thing. If we're counting Prince Achmed, then off-the-beaten-track stuff would seem to count on SOME level at least. That film is often ignored whenever people talk about, e.g., Disney's Snow White being the first animated feature.

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This from Pixar's facebook (more casting news):

A few weeks ago, John Lasseter hinted at Pixar’s first female lead. Well it’s official—he just announced that Pixar’s 2011 release, The Bear and the Bow, will feature the aspiring archer, Merida! Voice work will even include Reese Witherspoon, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson.

Woah, I just caught that Reese Witherspoon is going to be playing a Scottish Princess. Anyone else have any red flags?

Edited by Foolish Knight

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This from Pixar's facebook (more casting news):

A few weeks ago, John Lasseter hinted at Pixar

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I almost said Elastigirl belongs to BOTH categories, actually: she is both a love interest AND a sidekick (or at least a fellow combatant). But, as diffused as the movie's attention may be among the various family members, I think it's fair to say the movie's primary focus is still on the husband and his frustrations (at work, at home, etc.).

FWIW, just for the record, my not-quite-four-year-old daughter consistently calls this film "Mr. Incredible" whenever she asks to watch it. Which is fairly often.

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Former Disney animator Floyd Norman says Newt, which was going to be Gary Rydstrom's directorial debut for Pixar, is "dead". This has some people speculating that The Bear and the Bow, currently scheduled for a December 2011 release -- mere months after Cars 2 -- might be bumped into the summer of 2012, which is when Newt was going to come out. (Others speculate that Monsters, Inc. 2 might take Newt's place. We'll see.)

In related news, Michael Crawford @ Progress City USA notes that the death of Newt is just one of a few recent cancellations in Disneyworld. Others include The Snow Queen, which apparently would have been the traditionally-animated follow-up to The Princess and the Frog if the latter film had done better at the box office, and possibly The King of the Elves, which would have been Disney's first adaptation of Philip K. Dick.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Disney changed Rapunzel to Tangled ... now, are they changing The Bear and the Bow to Brave?

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Disney changed Rapunzel to Tangled ... now, are they changing The Bear and the Bow to Brave?

Oh dear. The Bear and the Bow was such a lovely, evocative name. Maybe consternation over the lackluster BO of The Princess and the Frog goes deeper than "princess" branding (which is what's going on with Tangled vs. Rapunzel)? Maybe the whole fairy-tale resonances of "The This and the That" are considered passe? Are we to be consigned to one-word titles (Up, WALL-E, Ratatouille, Cars, etc.) from now on?

Edited by SDG

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SDG wrote:

: Oh dear. The Bear and the Bow was such a lovely, evocative name.

I agree.

: Maybe consternation over the lackluster BO of The Princess and the Frog goes deeper than "princess" branding (which is what's going on with Tangled vs. Rapunzel)?

Possibly. FWIW, it also occurs to me that "brave" might have a subliminal hint of masculinity about it (I've got that line from Peter Pan going through my head right now, about wanting to be "an Injun brave"). I think "bears" and "bows" could arguably be said to be a little more gender-ambiguous: "bows" could bring to mind "bows and arrows" on the one hand or "buttons and bows" on the other; while "bears", in a family-oriented context at least, tend to be associated with "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" or "teddy bears" or things of that nature.

: Are we to be consigned to one-word titles (Up, WALL-E, Ratatouille, Cars, etc.) from now on?

And don't forget Bolt, which was originally American Dog!

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SDG wrote:

: Are we to be consigned to one-word titles (Up, WALL-E, Ratatouille, Cars, etc.) from now on?

And don't forget Bolt, which was originally American Dog!

As a screenwriter, I both sympathizes with the desire for a one-word, punchy title (something that looks good on the cover sheet of a screenplay, is always what I think of) and mourn the loss of the long, elegant titles. I am particularly a sucker for "Adventures of" titles.

Though most of my films have one word titles (Knights!, Wanted!) I have written "The Adventures of Professor Andrew!" and "The Adventures of Captain Wendmark!"

(And being that I write kid's movies, I also indulge my love of exclamation marks.)

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With music by ... Bono?

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Overstreet wrote:

: Another mid-production director switch at Pixar.

Wow! Some of the comments at that post are pretty interesting, too.

Interestingly, it looks like Brenda Chapman is being replaced by Mark Andrews, which, if true, means that Brave would become the first feature-length Pixar film (since the original Toy Story, of course) to be finished by one of Pixar's short-film directors; he was a co-director on One Man Band.

And what else has Mark Andrews done? Well, he seems to be a member of Brad Bird's posse, for one thing; he worked with Bird on The Iron Giant before migrating to Pixar and working with Bird on The Incredibles, Jack-Jack Attack and Ratatouille. (In-between Bird's Warner Brothers movie and Bird's Pixar movies, Andrews was also head of story on Osmosis Jones, which the Farrelly brothers directed for Warner Brothers; this is a definite plus in my books.)

So make of that what you will.

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Cinematical, which I am normally loathe to quote, reminds me that there was a flurry of blog posts about a month ago treating the "Pixar's first female director!" meme as big news -- even though the gender of this film's original director had been announced over two years ago.

That makes the timing of Chapman's ankling all the more awkward. What if Pixar had let her go a month ago? Would her femaleness have been more under-the-radar, making her departure less newsworthy? And, given that Chapman and Pixar DID go their separate ways within the last week or so, how obviously close to that separation were they when that meme was making the rounds? What would that have been like for the people involved?

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Drew McWeeny:

Now there's been another shake-up on another picture, and so far, Cartoon Brew seems to have the only real reporting on it. No surprise. They're one of the most informed and connected sources on the animation industry, in print or online or anywhere, and if you need further proof of it, just check out some of the names who pop up in that comments section below the story. People who have credits all over town, for Disney and Dreamworks and Sony Pictures Animation and even Pixar. And what's interesting is how nakedly hostile some of the comments are, which flies right in the face of Pixar's public and press image. Just personal opinions, of course, but some harsh ones.

That's due in part to the reputation that Brenda Chapman has developed over the course of her career. She was one of the directors of the first Dreamworks Animation 2D feature, "The Prince Of Egypt," and she was head of the story department on "The Lion King." She's a talented, well-liked artist, and she's got a lot of fans in the industry. When she was announced as the director of "The Bear And The Bow," which was the original title of "Brave," there were a lot of people rooting for her. And not because she's a woman, but because that particular woman developed that story, and because she has proven with her work that she's got a real voice as a storyteller. I've talked to people who saw the story reel version of "The Bear and the Bow," and I've heard some pretty great things about it. I've also heard that it wasn't easy to describe or categorize, and that it resisted formula in the way it was told. That was one of the things people seemed excited by in describing it. . . .

I talked to a longtime friend who works in animation earlier today, and I asked him for his take on things. He talked about how upset many of his colleagues are, simply because they were hoping they were going to see Brenda's film. It's a real testament to her that it seems like this is the first one of these Pixar staff changes that has really upset other animators.

I've got a lot more to say about the state of Walt Disney Feature Animation in particular and the Pixar-Disney relationship, but I think in order to do so, I'll need to wait until I can get into the specifics of their new film, "Tangled." I'll just say that I love and respect Pixar's work… I think my history of writing about them over the last 15 years speaks to that quite clearly. But i think the more these companies stretch to accommodate visions and voices that stand outside of what's been done before, the better they'll be, and without that encouragement of the new, they risk making the same mistakes that have driven Disney aground in the past.

Maybe not on this film. Or the next one. But there's only so much of the familiar anyone can take, and when you've got the enormous resources and talent that Pixar does, it's important to make the very best use of everything at your disposal. I hope in this case, they've made the right choice.

Note also how McWeeny links Pixar's status as a "financial brand" to their "ruthlessness" in the story department. Many Pixar fans, of course, would be inclined to say that Pixar's ruthlessness is driven primarily by STORY concerns. But is that necessarily the case any more? And what are we to make of the studio politics, i.e. of the fact that this "ruthlessness" always seems to adversely effect people who aren't part of Pixar's inner circle?

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The first concept art has been posted. Also, Kelly Macdonald will be replacing Reese Witherspoon as the lead voice actor... which makes a whole lot more sense to me given the movie's setting and the rest of the cast.

Edited by opus

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opus wrote:

: The first concept art has been posted. Also, Kelly Macdonald will be replacing Reese Witherspoon as the lead voice actor... which makes a whole lot more sense to me given the movie's setting and the rest of the cast.

The most interesting revelation in this article, to me at least, is that original director Brenda Chapman, whose ouster from the film sent shockwaves across the animation community, is ... well, not back, apparently, but she is going to receive co-directorial credit at least, which is more than can be said for the other directors who have been bumped from Disney-Pixar films like Ratatouille and Bolt. (And yes, you can argue that the original directors on those films didn't have a lot to do with the actual finished product, but in the case of Brave, they bumped the original director nearly two years before the release date, which gives them PLENTY of time to do a page-one re-write like they did on Bolt and Toy Story 2, both of which were given complete overhauls in 18 months or less. And it surely can't be coincidental that the lead character has been re-cast because of "scheduling issues" that arose after the original director was replaced.)

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Funny, we were just talking about Brenda Chapman over in the Kung Fu Panda 2 thread...

- - -

When the glass ceiling crashed on Brenda Chapman

Fired by Pixar as director of 'Brave,' the move hurt not only her but her female colleagues in animation. . . .

"I think it's a really sad state. We're in the 21st century and there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view," said Chapman, who spent six years on "Brave" — which was inspired by her relationship with her daughter — before being fired because of what she calls "creative differences."

Chapman's removal came roughly one year after Disney's 2009 animated feature "The Princess and the Frog" disappointed at the box office and one month before the premiere of the company's film "Tangled." That film, which was originally titled "Rapunzel," underwent a number of revisions to broaden its appeal beyond a core audience of little girls.

Chapman is currently on a leave of absence from Pixar.

The company declined to comment for this story, but did confirm that Chapman will be one of two directors who will receive a credit on "Brave." . . .

Los Angeles Times, May 25

- - -

Amid Amidi @ Cartoon Brew speculates: "My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that she has to remain with the company contractually until the film is completed in order to receive her credit."

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Snapshot from a theatre:

braveposter.jpg

Edited by Overstreet

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Nice. Thanks!

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