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David Poland

By David Poland

Disney Night

Oh yes, it’s Disney night… and the mood is right… oh yes, it’s Disney night, oh what a… oh what a night.

Okay… it wasn’t something to dance about. But Disney rolled out the Tangled, unfinished and not 3Ded, 20+ minutes of Tron Legacy, and the Pete Hammond commercial for Secretariat… or the Secretariat commercial for Pete Hammond… or something like that.

Tangled was perfectly pleasant, though whatever media hum that they were pushing hard to make the film more boy-friendly was not in evidence in the film. It’s an animated chick flick and the male action hero was more boyfriend material than Shrek material. The weakness of the film is the lack of a great villain. Their villainess is mean, brunette, and has a Salma Hayek bustline that she keeps on point with the help of Rapunzel’s magic, restoring hair. But because sleeping sickness, much less the death of her salvation is not an option that our villain could ever consider, the threat is minor. Really, it comes down to her angry, aging mother trying desperately to keep her little girl, who keeps her young, from being an obnoxious teen, much less jail bait for somewhat older rogues for whom she has an eye.

Still, a pleasant film. And likely to do similar business to last year’s Disney November animation, though this film could have used a villain as fun as The Princess & The Frog.

The Tron Legacy footage still isn’t selling me… for this reason… they keep saying that it’s a new take, but all we keep seeing is the updated versions of what we already know from the first film. Yeah, Jeff Bridges playing old and young at the same time is cool. And the competition with the Underworld series for tightest costumes may have been won. Speaking of which… Michael Sheen turned up in the clip reel for about 5 seconds… and he looks like the kind of thing we are waiting to see from this film. Right now, still cool – and I enjoyed the original, having rushed to see it on opening night – but waiting for the other shoe to drop.

This is the only physical version of the Light Cycle. It doesn’t actually roll on its wheels. But it’s still pretty cool.

Besides seeing Sheen on screen, I also said, “hey” at a little cocktail after the screenings. He said, I think it’s safe to quote, that he thought the script was “great.” So more reason for hope. Sheen was also great in Beautiful Boy, which premiered at Toronto and won some award up there. And as he plans to do Hamlet on stage next year, after shooting the last two Twilights, he is also talking about producing, writing, and directing as well.

He stood for photos with James Frain, who is also in Tron Legacy, I kept an eye out for someone with a stake running up to seek vengeance. Didn’t happen. Though Mandy Moore looked a little suspicious… and really quite beautiful, though not dolled up as a Disney Princess. (She voices Rapunzel.) Hellboy himself also attended the screening, though seemed to skip the party… and refused to wave to the crowd when mentioned at the event by studio chief Rich Ross.

Speaking of Rich Ross… my favorite part of the evening was spending a little time with and around the new Team Disney. I actually avoided a chat with Mr. Ross, but I got to chat with MT Carney, who was kind of silly and funny and very direct, which is the direct route to my movie business heart. This tone, which also fit with Rich Ross’ introductions, seems to fit the team that has been assembled over there. The success or failure of the marketing group is something only time will tell. But I must say, I like these people. I like the attitude. I like the directness. And I get the feeling that they know/have learned what they don’t know and are doing exactly what they need to do to overcome the deficits in experience.

Obviously, a number of people I count as friends were dumped, rather unceremoniously, by this regime. The sting remains. But business is business and moving forward, I think this group will be a pleasure to work with.

If they were all uptight and paranoid, I would be worried about their ability to push forward. But that’s not my read. As I wrote before, they need to do the job… that is the ultimate determining factor. But for now, I am encouraged.

And one last thought on Tron Legacy… I chatted with one of the producers of the film, who is 30, came to LA right after graduating Kansas State, and found a job with Sean Bailey for five years. Very cool. It’s another positive statement about Disney and Sean Bailey. I mean, TL is, no pun intended, a legacy project and who knows whether the current team would have greenlit it. But young and rising and promoted based on hard work would be a profile for people working on a lot that would make a place vibrant and exciting.

So… a pleasant evening on the Disney lot tonight, even if the product wasn’t life changing. And I still fear Rich Ross and Bob Iger’s plans for eliminating the theatrical window. But sometimes, you don’t really know how something is going to work out, but you just have a good feeling about the intent. This was one of those nights.

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4 Responses to “Disney Night”

  1. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I demand moar details aboot MT Carney.

    Also… “Suspicious”? That demands elaboration too.

  2. Glad that Tangled isn’t the ‘we swear, it’s a boys’ adventure movie’ that it’s being sold as. But the fact stands that if the film opens higher than Princess and the Frog based on the advertising campaign in question, than it will signal to Disney that they were right to make the film appear more boy-friendly. And that darn-sure will influence what kind of projects get the green light.

    Loved the first Tron 2 teaser, which sold the film as a real movie, basically a character-driven piece of moody film noir. But the full trailer makes it look like what I fear: a hallow 3D light show.

  3. mysteryperfecta says:

    I graduated from Kansas State with the closest that they have to a film degree (and its not close), so I can believe that the Tron producer DP is referring to has succeeded based on hard work, and not due to a flashy diploma.

  4. IOv3 says:

    Don’t sleep on TRON LEGACY… end of line.

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