The Walt Disney Company is exiting the traditional animation business. What would Walt Disney think about this development?
CEO Bob Iger, speaking at an annual shareholder's meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 6, 2013, chief executive Bob stated that none of the studio's animation companies was working on 2D, hand-drawn material for the big screen.
Iger did not rule out returning to traditional Disney animation, it will likely be years before another feature is produced.
When this Examiner worked at Walt Disney World an announcement like this would have been met internally with a comment, “Walt is rolling over in his grave.”
Let’s ignore the fact that Walt’s remains were cremated and focus on what Walt himself might think about this news.
Three relevant points should be made.
Point one – Walt hated repeating himself.
Roy E. Disney, Walt’s nephew and son of brother Roy E. once, when asked what Walt would think, replied that the one thing about Walt was that he never repeated himself. The one thing you could be sure of with Walt was that the next time would be different.
In the 1920-30s, Walt and his team produced a short film called The Three Little Pigs. The film spoke to the fears of people during the then current depression and the coming second world war. It was an immediate hit. The box office distributors clamored for sequels. “Send more pigs,” they shouted. Walt replied, “You can’t top pigs with pigs.” He did eventually produce a few sequels. There was too much money to be made to not do them. But, as soon as possible, Walt turned his attention forward and away from pigs.
Point two – Walt was bored with animation.
Although Walt did stir himself to assist from time to time with an animation project, he had, after the box office failures of Pinocchio, Bambi and Fantasia, turned away from animation and into live action films. From there he turned his attention to creating Disneyland. Traditional animation, although still important to the studio, was the past and Walt had already moved beyond 2D.
Point three – Walt loved new technology.
Walt once stated that his studio told stories through technology that made inanimate object move. He successfully married technology with tradition. If Walt were still alive it is likely that he would be heavily involved in 3D projects, computer-based animation technologies and totally immersive screen projects of the likes of which we can only wonder about. If 2D animation was a money loser, Walt would have turned away from it without remorse.
So, has Disney lost its soul because it is no longer producing 2D? Walt’s ashes are not rolling over. They are, if they can, jumping for joy with anticipation of the new wonders to be created.
What about you and your business? Your life? Are you looking backwards? Or, are you focused on what comes next? Take a lesson from Walt and get excited about the future. The past is over anyway.