Posted on March 9, 2007

Disney Creates First Black Animated Princess

CBC Arts, March 9, 2007

Walt Disney Co. plans an animated film it bills as “an American fairy tale” that will feature the first black princess created by the studio.

And in a return to its roots, it plans to use hand-drawn animation to create the film, The Frog Princess.

Disney outlined plans for the film in New Orleans on Thursday at its annual shareholders meeting.

The Frog Princess is the first animated film to be conceived since Disney’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios, the computer animation house that created such blockbusters as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo and Cars.

The use of a classic hand-drawn process may be an indication Disney intends to create two streams of animation—one computer based, one based on more classic techniques.

Randy Newman, who created music for Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Cars, will write the score.

John Musker and and Ron Clements, who co-directed The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules, wrote the story and will direct the film, which is set in New Orleans.

“The film’s New Orleans setting and strong princess character give the film lots of excitement and texture,” Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook said.

The heroine, Maddy, becomes the first African American among the Disney princesses, who are collectively responsible for more than $3 billion in annual retail sales.

Disney abandoned hand-drawn animation after 2004’s Home on the Range, one of a series of animated films that provided poor returns.

The company bought Pixar, known for its computer-generated imagery, and gave Pixar’s John Lasseter creative control of animated features.

Analysts said Disney may be retesting hand-drawn works with The Frog Princess with the idea of producing more films using the classic animation process that launched the original Disney studios.