Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

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Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by gaastra » October 26th, 2015, 8:03 pm

http://gonintendo.com/stories/245480-ki ... -the-movie

Don bluth returns to animation. Looks like he is making a kickstarter to pay for a 10 min promo to get a studio to make a dragons lair movie. When is the last time don bluth did a cartoon?

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by Dacey » October 27th, 2015, 12:11 pm

Titan A.E. Which was waaaeaayyyy back in 2000, and wasn't even his project originally!

Sadly, I don't see this actually happening, though. At least not with the budget that he'd need to be able to pull it off.
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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by EricJ » October 27th, 2015, 2:26 pm

gaastra wrote:When is the last time don bluth did a cartoon?
And ftm, when was the last time studios did a cel-animated movie? (At least, that weren't crushed by Avatar and Harry Potter)
Otherwise, think that would have been around the time of Titan AE, too.

Bluth's been in that Grandpa's-off-his-meds phase for a good twenty years now, but this is the last final career icing-rose on the cake.

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by gaastra » October 27th, 2015, 6:27 pm

"And ftm, when was the last time studios did a cel-animated movie"

This year. It was called spongebob sponge out of water and was a big hit and we got When Marnie Was There as well.
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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by droosan » October 27th, 2015, 10:29 pm

There was also Song of the Sea, earlier this year. Europe and Asia have been keeping traditionally-drawn animated features alive for several years, now.

And -- love him or hate him -- that is a major part of Don Bluth's legacy: keeping traditionally-drawn animated features alive. He seriously does not receive enough credit for this.

Prior to his split from Disney, they were making new animated features largely one-at-a-time, at a rate of one every 3-5 years .. and the quality of those films had noticeably declined since Walt Disney's passing. Bluth's departure was a key component of several factors which stopped both of those trend-lines in their tracks, and put the Disney studio onto the trajectory of its "Second Golden Age".

Bluth's first few films posed a serious challenge to the market dominance Disney had largely enjoyed 'unchallenged' since the 1950s -- enough so that Steven Spielberg saw value in spurring his success .. which was likewise instrumental in shaping Disney's re-emergence in the late-1980s. Even marketing techniques such as McDonald's 'Happy Meal' toys and producing 'top-40-radio-friendly' versions of titular theme songs had first been pioneered by Bluth films, before Disney quickly adopted the same methods.

But Bluth's early success was also instrumental in showing other studios that Disney was not necessarily the only game in town for animated features, anymore; the proliferation of other feature animation studios in the 1990s is -- at least partially -- thanks to him.

--------------------------------------------

As to Titan A.E., by all accounts I've heard (directly from many of the artists who'd worked on it), Bluth very much pulled a 'Brad Bird Ratatouille' maneuver with that film. He took over a movie which had previously been pulling in a hundred different directions, story- and design-wise, and made the movie 'work'. Unfortunately, it was not enough to save the Fox Animation studio (I still can't believe Fox 'shuttered' that studio after only two films!!). :roll:

--------------------------------------------

After the closure of Fox Animation, Bluth started a quarterly magazine (lasting only 6 issues) titled Don Bluth's Toon Talk which was part Bluth-studio history, and part animation technique discussion, along with interviews of animation greats such as Milt Kahl and Ken Anderson. A few pages of each issue were devoted to a serialized Dragon's Lair comic strip, drawn by Don himself:

Image
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Bluth continued to refine his Dragon's Lair feature story treatment over the ensuing years, parts of which were used to inform the Dragon's Lair comic-book miniseries published by Arcana in 2006.

He's also published two animation instruction books: Don Bluth's The Art Of Storyboard and Don Bluth's The Art Of Animation Drawing (both, sadly, now 'out-of-print') .. and has held 'Richard Williams-style' instructional seminars on occasion (both online and in-person), passing-on his knowledge of animation craftwork to a new generation.

--------------------------------------------

Unfortunately, Bluth's 'achilles heel' is the same as it ever was: funding. Money woes have dogged his studios since its earliest days .. and more than anything, were responsible for his move to Ireland .. the eventual drop in quality projects at the Sullivan-Bluth studio .. and (after the Fox Animation closure) his subsequent efforts to get a new feature of any kind off the ground.

I'm honestly surprised he hasn't approached a Kickstarter-style funding program sooner than this. 8)

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by EricJ » October 27th, 2015, 11:04 pm

droosan wrote:I'm honestly surprised he hasn't approached a Kickstarter-style funding program sooner than this. 8)
I think he got a little too Veronica Mars happy, and thought Kickstarter was a magic Internet pot o' gold of secret viewers out there who would automatically mommy-allowance ANY movie that studios didn't see any earthly reason to make.

And yes, Bluth did create the illusion of "reinvigorating" what Disney should be doing back in the mid-80's Black Cauldron days for lack of anyone else when Disney wasn't doing it, but once they did start doing it, during the 90's Renaissance, you could look at Thumbelina, Rock-a-Doodle, or A Troll in Central Park, and either be disturbed, or very, very frightened. Or both. :shock: No wonder the other Disney animators hated him.
Certainly, private funding would be a safer option, given the bad habit of studios that kept going bankrupt under him.

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by Ben » October 28th, 2015, 6:02 am

I was going to mention Song Of The Sea, but thought Eric would be pedantic that he meant big studio releases! ;)

Bluth certainly has a solid placement in the history of animation, love or hate him and/or his films as you say. It's true that his leaving Disney in the late 70s contributed to their change in track but not in a major sense (within Disney, Bluth was already a polarizing fellow). The Rescuers had been a major success for the studio and The Fox And The Hound would mark the start of returning to colored ink lines and the lusher style that Bluth had felt had been missing (I guess he just didn't like the Xerox look either), but it was obviously in story that the Disney films were really lacking, though, ironically, that was never Bluth's strongpoint either.

Even with Bluth's competition Disney wasn't particularly worried: NIMH flopped against Fox And The Hound and then Disney went through the Eisner takeover: whatever was happening at the studio at the time would have been looked at as a problem to solve. It was really the Care Bears Movie beating Black Cauldron into the ground that gave Disney the wake up call, and even by then Ron 'n' John had been working on Great Mouse Detective, the first film to put Disney back on the map, as well as, if I remember, still beating Bluth/Spielberg's An American Tail, if only narrowly.

Droo is right in that Spielberg's two Bluth films did forge the McDonald's tie-ins, but I must point out that when people mention the start of use for pop singles in the credits of animated films to help sell them, everyone overlooks Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes for Watership Down in 1978! Songs for films were nothing new (the Bond films had signature tunes from the 1960s, the 70s had many for "prestige" films), but Bright Eyes was really the first time a song helped an animated feature play well - its airplay in the UK alone did actually help the film get its distribution in the first place and keep it in the charts for weeks on end.

After Watership Down, Bluth did try with Flying Dreams from NIMH by the great Paul Williams, but this came towards the end of Williams' initial successful run and didn't help the film any, after which another whole heap of "movie songs" - culminating in the huge culture shifting Ghostbusters theme - saw everyone jump on the bandwagon and adding MTV friendly songs to their films. By the time of Tail, it probably would have had a song attached to it for marketing anyway, but it's true the orchestration would define the next decade of animated film pop singles. It didn't inspire Disney, though, for another six years: after Tail in 1986 the first film to release a liftable ballad for a Disney animated film was Beauty And The Beast in 1992.

On Titan AE, a film that I actually love, he did seem to work wonders after the original film, Planet Ice, wound up being in physical animation stage without an actual story, if I understand what happened correctly. It's a vastly underrated movie with lots in it to enjoy, but I wonder if the end result wasn't that Bluth was doing it more because he had been assigned to it rather than because of any emotional investment. It's interesting that the two Fox films he did that were great were two that he didn't have complete reign over: Anastasia (closely watched by Bill Mechanic, who wanted Fox Animation to be big), and Titan AE, which was a rescue job and so wasn't filtered "pure" through Bluth's brain. When they did leave him alone, we got Bartok The Magnificent...

(I agree that shuttering Fox Animation was nuts after three films, but by then Blue Sky was in the picture and you can see their thinking: why subsidize a whole unit of flopping traditional animation when they could pick up, at first, each bright and shiny, newfangled CG film as they were made?)

Which brings us to his other Achilles' heel: ego. Yes, he's always had financing issues, but that's because he hasn't had a hit in ages and that's because he likes to control *everything* in a Lucas way, but without the Lucas money. If there's one thing that makes the Bluth films stale visually it's because he comes up with all the character designs when he should really let others bring more variety to them. All of Bluth's characters have the same eyes, the same build...even "young" faces have an aged appearance to them that bears too much weight on their shoulders. Unfortunately, Gary Goldman - while giving huge credit to the guy for sticking with his pal through thick and think - doesn't seem to be as strong as Gary Kurtz was to George, and because of experience, Bluth gets free reign, something that was perhaps equally as much about why he left Disney as what he says he felt about the artistic quality (I must admit to a sometime brief-ish connection to Don and Gary that gave me some insight but that I'm not going to get into here).

It's fair to say that the demise of traditional animation hasn't helped him: I don't think the lack of being able to get a hand-drawn feature off the ground is only because of his name but because the medium is stagnant in the studios' eyes at the moment. But returning to Dragon's Lair (only because it has something of a brand recognition and is the only one of worth in this regard that Bluth owns outright) isn't going to change that. If the project has had no traction in the past when everyone remembered what Dragon's Lair was and Bluth had many more ties to the studio system, then it's not going to get much going now.

Kickstarter also seems a little of a "sad" way for him to go, when people like Richard Williams are making films off their own bat: if Bluth wants to try and pitch then shouldn't he be making this himself anyway? When the movie (probably doesn't) come along, do those Kickstarters share in that or is it a case of "thanks for the help"? And why can't this thing be made for $15m, certainly less than $20m? He's apparently been working on it for years: surely he has a script, some storyboards, designs, etc? Even with or without those materials, studios like Cartoon Saloon and even DisneyToon have been able to make outstanding features for less than these amounts, so why the impossible-to-achieve $80m+ (I think was the number mentioned) that he says he needs?

As much as I love Don and Gary, this isn't the right approach. I really want to be told to eat my own hat, in time, but sadly I just don't think this is going to happen. :(

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by EricJ » October 28th, 2015, 12:56 pm

Ben wrote:everyone overlooks Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes for Watership Down in 1978!
After Watership Down, Bluth did try with Flying Dreams from NIMH by the great Paul Williams, but this came towards the end of Williams' initial successful run and didn't help the film any
Yeah, hate to break it to you across the Atlantic, but everyone DID overlook Watership Down in the US--
It escaped the art circuit, but had a minor indie run in mainstream theaters, and apart from its book audience, was seen as just a new "serious animation" curiosity in tandem with the Bakshi LOTR in the same month. (And "family/commercial", you will agree, it was not.)
The song was thus never a top 40 hit over here, but it was at least remembered enough for geeks to get the joke in the Wallace & Grommit movie.

Bluth's Paul Williams song was more in the sense that Ron Miller 60's-70's Disney movies always had some ballad that made the Best Song nominations, so while he was in his old-school 70's-Miller mode, he wanted to give us another treacly, waif-sentimental Rescuers song. The same could be true for American Tail's song, which Universal wanted to use for promotion; it just had the fortune to be one step ahead of Disney's own new Renaissance confidence in Alan Menken songs being contemporary and Top 40-accessible.
Ben wrote:It's interesting that the two Fox films he did that were great were two that he didn't have complete reign over: Anastasia (closely watched by Bill Mechanic, who wanted Fox Animation to be big), and Titan AE, which was a rescue job and so wasn't filtered "pure" through Bluth's brain. When they did leave him alone, we got Bartok The Magnificent...
(HOO-boy--And those ellipses do mean "'Nuff said." :shock: )

Anastasia--wacky and disturbingly protracted "decomposition" jokes aside--at least had some framework for Mechanic to work around, since it wanted to coldly replicate the 90's Renaissance movies from the sum of their parts.
But giving Bluth a Joss Whedon sci-fi epic just on the strength of his availability and having a hit to hope build the corporate studio on, still feels like the equivalent of giving Chris Columbus the Avengers movie, just because he made so much money putting special effects into Harry Potter.
If it'd been at Warner's struggling studio and they'd tried giving Titan to that Brad Bird kid who'd at least done some sci-fi thing, you can't help wondering how much more coherent a movie it would have been. (And how less gay the alien sidekick would have been.)
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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by droosan » October 28th, 2015, 3:14 pm

I was careful to state that Don Bluth's departure and the influence of his early films were only amongst many other factors in the Disney studio's turn-around in the 1980s.

Had Bluth stayed with Disney, chances are he would've clashed early-on with Katzenberg or Eisner, and been unceremoniously forced-out, anyway .. but that scenario likely wouldn't have dealt as large of a psychological blow to the studio as his voluntary walkout (and the simultaneous exodus of several other artists) had done, in those uncertain years before the Eisner era.

It's true The Secret Of NIMH was not a box-office success (though, I loved it; it was easily my favorite movie of 1982 -- which was a very crowded year of excellent films) .. but NIMH did capture the attention of Steven Spielberg, who enabled the elevation of An American Tail and The Land Before Time to genuine hit status.

I confess I was not aware that "Bright Eyes" had been a top-40 radio hit (though, I was still living in Japan in 1978 .. and did not see Watership Down until the 1990s).

As to ego -- show me a director -- animation or live-action -- who doesn't have one..? Seems like that's a job requirement! :wink:

But, yes; that is a factor in the several 'burned bridges' Bluth has left in the wake of his career .. and is part of the reason he's struggled with financing for any new film projects during the past 15 years (though, as I'd detailed above, he's hardly 'sat idle' during that time).

As much as it pains me to say it, I agree that crowdfunding a pitch-reel is perhaps not the best approach (but it is surprising that Bluth hasn't tried it before now). I'm also not certain a Dragon's Lair feature film has much potential demand or audience appeal .. though, I'll admit I am rather a poor judge of either. :|

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by gaastra » October 28th, 2015, 5:50 pm

"Even with Bluth's competition Disney wasn't particularly worried: NIMH flopped against Fox And The Hound"

No it did not lose due to fox and the hound. It came out the same day as a little movie called ET! Guess who won.

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by Ben » October 28th, 2015, 7:20 pm

Obviously NIMH and Fox/Hound did not come out the same time, but in terms of box-office for the two biggest animated features of 1982, Fox/Hound beat NIMH.

Arguably, NIMH is easily the much better film and the one that has stood the test of time more than Fox/Hound, even though both don't really get the love they should from their studios.

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by Dan » October 28th, 2015, 9:07 pm

I attended a two-day seminar Don and Gary conducted way-back when in 2000. I remember it being my first real exposure to at least understanding a little bit of the amount of thought and care went into creating even the smallest of scenes in a high-end animated feature. Each of us walked off with a forty-page "Animation: One Way to Approach It" guide that Don wrote that summarized and expanded upon much of what they were talking about. Going through the guide again just now, it's interesting the amount of thought Don believes we should consider when approaching a scene, no matter how big or small. There's a bit where he lists 20+ questions you should ask yourself when beginning a scene (let me know if you want me to post them :lol: ).

Coming back to Dragon's Lair, I would love to see a Dragon's Lair movie. But I think it's way too late for Bluth to be able to pull it off on his own and under his hands-on approach. I rather like the comic adaptation that was done a few years back and feel that was probably the best adaptation of the game we were probably going to get. It stuck with the Bluth style, but allowed others to craft the story while staying true to the original.

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Re: Dragons Lair Movie Kickstarter

Post by Dacey » January 13th, 2016, 6:50 pm

Don Bluth didn't get Inside Out. At all.

Everything that ever went wrong on his movies was someone else's fault, according to him.

Also, HE is the reason that Disney got better!

http://channelawesome.com/shut-up-and-t ... y-goldman/

(Also, it's very ironic for him to say that modern Disney characters look like "puppets" when Anastasia/Akima and Demitri/Cale had basically the same designs!)
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