‘Solo’ Could Be A Star Wars Western

After much speculation with the release date of ‘Solo’ on the horizon, an impressive teaser trailer has been released along with a Super Bowl TV Spot. We still have to see a full trailer, as Lucasfilm clearly labels it a teaser trailer, but we can see where Star Wars is heading.

Let’s remember that, after all, Star Wars has been mainly a sci fi soap opera. Without the special effects, the Skywalker family could easily fit within the soap operas on TV. With the sequel trilogy of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, we still see this recurring theme of relations within the characters. Everything changed with Rogue One, adding much more military flare to the galaxy we all love.

And with Solo, it is time that Star Wars gets some spaghetti western in the mix.

Think about it. One frame of the teaser trailer clearly states this comparison. But in the end, this is a western. Han and Chewie, partners from the old West. Lando, your usual gambler with the best horses (or spaceships) in the stable. All of them moving from town to town, searching for loots to survive.

There has been negativity surrounding this film, mainly because of the directorial shake up and the fact that The Last Jedi left many fans wondering if they’ll even like Star Wars anymore. Solo can pick up those pieces and launch us into a different adventure, just like Rogue One did in 2016.

Few people remember that Star Wars fans also had mixed hopes for Rogue One, which ended up becoming a solid movie detailing one of the most compelling missions in the saga.

Maybe Alden Ehrenreich does not even sound like Harrison Ford, but he has the cadence in his voice and the physical movement to deliver a convincing Han Solo. Donald Glover fits perfectly with Lando Calrissian, with his charm and presence. Let these guys take you into the western genre and see how Star Wars can make it great.

In 1977, George Lucas taught us that soap operas in the galaxy could be compelling. In 2016, Rogue One taught us that warfare could be the main focus in a Star Wars film.

Solo might actually teach us how Han is the wildest cowboy in the whole galaxy.

Off With Their Heads!: What Is Happening With Disney’s Audio-Animatronics?

Since the update of The Hall Of Presidents, there has been some comments about one of the prime technologies of the Disney theme parks: Audio-Animatronics. The comments have caught steam since the Ursula and Auctioneer animatronics from different parks have been found without their heads in place.

Animatronics are complex technological marvels that allow to express the story being told in Disney’s attractions. Some of these figures require constant maintenance, due to their complexity in their movements. Some of them stop moving due to some technical difficulties, other start vibrating like crazy due to an actuator trying to move. We’ve seen what happens when these AA’s go wrong. Taking into account all of this, it seems that an AA losing its head could be the bottom line for noticeable negligence from maintenance.

For some years, a part of the Disney community has criticized the reduction of maintenance for Audio-Animatronics in the parks, making regular the fact that some figures don’t work. Maybe it isn’t Disney’s fault in some cases, but on the production of Garner Holt.

Since 2013, Walt Disney Imagineering has outsourced the Audio-Animatronics from Garner Holt Productions, the recognized organization in making high quality figures. This doesn’t mean that Disney closed MAPO, the Audio-Animatronics division, all-together. Some insiders like Jim Hill have mentioned that some animatronics (like the Ursula figure from Ariel’s Undersea Adventure) and the skins for the figures are done in-house, but most of the creations are outsourced.

It is hard to say that, if Disney now has Garner Holt do all the animatronics, this means that they also outsource all of the maintenance too. This could explains why some figures from several don’t work for a considerable amount of time until a refurb, which allows to repair or replace them in bulk.

Let me be clear that I don’t have any sources from the matter, but it might be the reason some figures just don’t get fixed for a while. These are expensive toys to take care of, but the negligence is much worse as they would later have to replace it. Even though the figures are outsourced, should they outsource the maintenance too?

Ursula and the Auctioneer could just have a bad day, but it makes me wonder how the outsourcing of the Audio-Animatronics affects their maintenance. Yes, outsourcing could be cheaper, but maybe not in the long run. Can they buy Garner Holt altogether? Could be an interesting move, but as new attractions have fewer AA’s, I don’t see that coming soon.

Maybe the answer to all of these figures in decay could be the fact that they need to wait for them to be fixed.

Photos Taken From WDWNT, No Midnight, disneysapsquad.

FastPass Could Become Fa$tCa$h Without Any Benefit

There are rumors that Disney might be testing a $50 fee for an additional 3 FastPasses. In a recurring strategy of maximizing revenue by allowing some experience for money, this seems like the next step where the experience that used to be for everyone could now be for a reduced audience willing to give as much money to ensure their Disney experience is perfect.

Maybe this is a decision in response to Universal Express, the premium ticket offer by Universal to evade lines throughout their parks. So, why shouldn’t Disney try a similar strategy if Universal has been quite succesful in a similar offering?

The difference is that Universal makes a clear line; if you don’t pay, you’ll have to wait in line. In the case of Disney, everyone has the right for 3 Fastpass reservations. After using them, you can reserve to other experiences throughout the park. A $50 fee is added to the normal pass to add 3 more initial FastPass. Here we have a short sighted decision where Disney isn’t even sure what to do since the Magic bands transition, were now the fastness delivery is being achieved through Disney’s app. Now we need to embrace this new system with the added expense of adding fastness for a fee. This is in a similar vein to Disneyland’s max pass.

I understand that the Disney parks are a business after all, were maximizing revenue is important. What makes me cringe with these experimentations is that the guests aren’t receiving any improved experience by throwing money at Disney. Here we are with the same problems with untrained cast members, huge crowd problems, and attractions that haven’t received the necessary refurbishment to keep it updated and on a pristine working condition. If im paying an extra $50 to add FastPass, I want a good maintenance on Audio-Animatronics in any attraction. The problem I have is that this decision only maximizes revenue without adding any improvement to the management of the parks.

Let’s take into account that this offering is being presented for Disney Vacation Club members and not any guest from the Disney resort or even off site park goers. This may make sense, as DVC members are already willing to give more money to maximize their experience. It is in their hands to prove Disney wrong or right about this decision, as the decision depends if there’s a market for it.

Yes, Disney is a business after all, but maybe maximizing every single space and opportunity for profit may end up shortening the market in such a way that their growth will stop happening when few families are able to visit the parks. I’m worried many kids wont be able to give their children the experience they had when they become parents.

Nitpicking Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ New Background Music

For many fans, the music that surrounds Disney’s well-crafted illusions in the theme parks is the most recognizable element when taken out of its context. We vividly remember those ragtime tunes in Main Street U.S.A., the optimistic retro of Future World, or the far-away drums in the Animal Kingdom. Disney’s Hollywood Studios also has its own background music, consisting mainly of movie themes of several studios (ever heard the Harry Potter theme song near the Chinese Theater), Pixar themes near Toy Story Mania, and some jazz tunes in the area of Sunset Boulevard.

Last week, most of the background music in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been replaced, representing the current transition the park has towards a new, adventure-oriented identity.

WDW News Today released a video detailing some of the songs present in different areas of the park. You can watch the video here:

Even though we don’t have a full recording of each area of the park, I noticed some nice details about the music and how it actually changes the theming of several places of the park. Taking into account that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will become the park where you have adventures inside the movies, the Imagineers are starting to carry on this theme with the clever use of music within the lands.

Main Entrance

In this area, the Imagineers decided to go with an upbeat Jazz medley of several Disney songs, ranging from Snow White’s Heigh Ho to Tangled’s I See The Light. The music, according to WDW News Today, was originally composed for Mickey Avenue at Shanghai Disneyland. This style of music gives a good feeling, it makes us ready for our own adventure and makes us remembers our most beloved characters from Disney. In some ways, it feels similar to the music at the Magic Kingdom’s entrance, but less nostalgic and more upbeat.

Hollywood Boulevard

Here is where the changes in music change the overall theme of an area. For Hollywood Boulevard, we listen to classic Jazz from the 30’s and 40’s. These are the years when sound and color started to become part of films, consolidating the movie industry. During this time, the film genres also started to spruce up, now that directors and writers have done enough work that we see patterns of drama, comedy, horror, and sci-fi. Walt was working to move from short animated pictures to full length.

Hollywood Boulevard is no longer the Hollywood that never was and will always be. With the new background music, it feels that we are heading towards the Hollywood that once was and allow us to transport us to the different adventures we are about to encounter during our stay in the park. This makes sense with the fully themed environments of Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge, and even Sunset Boulevard. As we mention other Hollywood themed areas of the park, you’ll also notice there’s a timeline created with the different choices of music.

Sunset Boulevard

Here we are, at the Los Angeles of the Roaring 20’s. With some vocal track and Big Band hits. With the Tower Of Terror at the end of the street, Carthay Circle and some shops, we experiment a Hollywood that is starting to grow. This keeps with the timeline we have, as Echo Lake has more contemporary music compared to Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard.

The Imagineers have acknowledged Rock n’ Roller Coaster, giving some rock tracks for its surroundings. In this sense, we have the feeling of a temporary music festival in the middle of Los Angeles. This is subtly done using some crowds that can be heard throughout the tracks.

If Imagineers are attempting showing different stages of Hollywood with the music, Sunset Boulevard shines. This is the Hollywood that is starting to shape up film history, that later evolves into Hollywood Boulevard.

Echo Lake

In this area, we start listening music from the 50’s and 60s, during the golden age of cinema. It also makes sense that they work within this time period, acknowledging television as a new pathway to the entertainment industry. The different buildings resemble offices of talent agents, detectives, and studio executives. Let’s not forget the sound stages near the area. The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular presents the beginning of the blockbuster film. As we move along, Hollywood moves forward into Grand Park (Muppet Courtyard) and Grand Avenue.

Hollywood Timeline

What I’ve stated so far is that each non-movie area represents a different time of Los Angeles as the film industry grows. If Imagineering is approaching this way, this minor change leads the way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios new identity. As we see Hollywood in each stage, we can later experience the adventures that films have given us. Instead of letting these areas linger, they become part of the story being told. I loved the older background music, but this has shown how a single change can transform the vibe of an area.

State Of The Walt Disney Company: The Studios

Ever since 1923, Disney is in the business of making movies. This has expanded throughout the years, especially under Iger’s acquisition deals. As of right now, there are 7 production studios under the Disney brand. Every single one of them has its own set of problems, but I want to pinpoint what can be done to keep a direction within different studios. With the $6 billion mark done in 2017, we can say there’s room for creative dilemmas that might improve where the division is heading.

John Lasseter

In November 2017, John Lasseter announced a 6-month leave of absence due to sexual misconduct. He’s not only the genius of Pixar but the main creative leader for everything regarding animation (Pixar, Walt Disney Animation, Disney Toon Studios). What I’m wondering is how this situation affects his relationship with the company and if Disney has a future leader in place.

In the case of Pixar, it has been mention Peter Docter (Up, Inside Out) and Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Finding Dory) as possible replacements for Lassetter within Pixar, but we don’t know if he would become head of the other animation studios. Considering what has already happened, it is the time that Disney starts shuffling the leadership roles. It is difficult to make cultural changes within the studio when the output has been consistent, but maybe a little change might expand the possibilities.

Walt Disney Animation

Since Rapunzel, every single movie from the studio has been great. I’m not saying this lightly. The studio is exploring new ways to tell stories in a visual way that hasn’t been done.

With the release of Ralph Breaks The Internet later this year, we will see Disney again working outside the princess realm, trying out totally different universes. Wreck-It Ralph has been one of the best movies from the studios in recent years and the sequel must bring the same experience of world building with a heart in mind. Still, things aren’t in the best way possible.

Gigantic, a retelling of the classic beanstalk story tale, was shelved besides being announced with concept art in D23. Maybe the story wasn’t one that could work, but I was hyped to see where Disney could have gone with this kind of story. Also, Frozen 2 will be released next year, even though Olaf’s Frozen Adventure didn’t have that much of a big hit in 2017. The animation studio shouldn’t rely too much on sequels, besides doing it when there is a good story to be told. Even though sequels could be interesting, they’re sure-fire project at the box office. If a healthy release of sequels leads to other groundbreaking projects, I’m all in. If not, then Disney’s resurgence in animation might lose its flame.

Pixar

Many critics are worried about the creative health of this studio ever since the number of sequels that Pixar started to ramp up. The Incredibles 2 will be released this year, which is the most wanted sequel ever since Pixar released the first movie. Seriously Pixar, why did it took you so long? Yes, Toy Story has been solid with its sequels but The Incredibles deserved their treatment too.

Cars 3 and Coco were released in 2017, with the Day Of The Dead taking the first place. Coco may have given a good dose of medicine for those critics that worried about the studio. Coco may be one of the top 5 movies from Pixar (1st place in my book). With The Incredibles 2 this year and Toy Story 4 on the horizon (expected for 2019), this might give some space to more original films. Pixar has matured as a studio, but it shouldn’t stagnate because of it.

John Lassetter might be the spiritual guide for the studio, but we should start seeing more attention from younger talents at the studio. We already know that Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird, Pete Doctor and Lee Unkrich have influence over the studios’ decision, but the exposure of younger talents might be the right way to go. Let’s bring women to the screenwriting, producer and director position. Experiment with some short films to learn what younger talent could do. There are few new faces from Pixar and giving them the exposure they deserve is a good way to go for the studios’ future.

Walt Disney Pictures

This studio has consolidated their slate. With the blend of some sequels and remakes with other original projects, the live-action department has never been as good as it is now. A Wrinkle In Time should offer a new glimpse at what could be done under the fairytale genre, Nutcracker and The Four Realms has the potential to become a classic retelling of a Christmas story, and everyone will buy tickets to meet again with their favorite nanny with Mary Poppins Returns.

The stakes are high this year for each film. A Wrinkle In Time has been known to be Ava DuVernay’s pet project. She’s even rejected ta Star Wars film for it.

In Nutcracker And The Four Realms, the ensemble of actors should be able to move people to the theatre and give it a chance as a Christmas movie.

But the most anticipated movie of all is Mary Poppins returns with Emily Blunt taking the character that people remember it for Julie Andrews for at least half a century. With Lin Manuel Miranda as Bert, this film could be one of the strongest hits for Disney in recent years or a total disaster. By moving the project forward, I believe that the studios consider there’s an interesting story to tell and the cast has done a great job. The biggest responsibility is under Emily Blunt’s shoulders as the most beloved nanny of all time.

DisneyToon Studios

This studio may not be a fan’s favorite, but it definitely represents an important part of Disney’s overall strategy. Let’s not forget how Tinker Bell and their friends rose to prominence up to the point that Disney considered making a complete land in the Magic Kingdom dedicated to the fairies. Even though they represent a sad period in Disney history (those sequels to Cinderella, Tarzan, Hunchback Of Notredame, and Beauty and the Beast), there have been many positive projects life A Goofy Movie and the Tinker Bell films.

Now that this studio stopped being a direct-to-video sequel powerhouse, it doesn’t have a clear direction. The only released film that is barely original (with a strong resemblance to Cars) is Planes. Maybe it is time to reconsider the place of this studio within the company’s strategy. If it doesn’t have a clear direction in the next few years, better shut down production as it is already struggling. The only future projects in place are from Disney Fairies and another sequel for Planes.

Disneynature

Disneynature has a strong link to Walt Disney because it is the spiritual successor to the True-Life Adventure films. The nature documentary studio has released one movie per year, keeping up with production although some films barely profit at the box office. The problem with these films is that Disney doesn’t fo much marketing, missing some opportunity to offer these style of documentaries to new audiences. Personally, sometimes I learn about these films at the end of the year.

Disneynature could be more prominent with some slight marketing changes. Stop giving full focus to the film in April and give teasers and trailers in advance. Make people have some interest some months in advance. Also, some cross-media synergy could be made in the Animal Kingdom, with preview showings in some part of the part just like it has been done in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney Presents Theatre (originally One Man’s Dream).

I believe these films deserve more attention due to the amazing photography work is has been achieved in these films. Maybe these will never be blockbuster films, but with some changes in the marketing more people could be intrigued in watching some of these nature films.

Lucasfilm

So far we’ve had three Star Wars films: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and Rogue One. With Solo just six months away, Lucasfilm has done a great job at reviving the franchise with new characters and a solid cast. After the fan criticism generated by The Last Jedi, Solo has the job to reconcile the fans and lure newer audiences with one of the most recognizable characters in Star Wars.

There have been rumors of Alden Ehrenreich having difficulties to deliver the character due to his lack of acting abilities, but it doesn’t make any sense. His career has been filled with auteur film like Blue Jasmine, Retro, Twixt and Hail, Cesar! Maybe he is having difficulties with the character due to the difficulty of being on Harrison Ford’s boots, but anyone will be scared of performing such a recognizable character.

What I want from Lucasfilm this year is to start exploring the Indiana Jones territory, as they’re pigeonholed right now with the Star Wars movies. Maybe they need to work on a different universe or franchise in order to stay fresh and experiment new horizons. Also, I want to see how they will keep dealing with the Star Wars stand alone films as they have been very useful to introduce new fans to the universe. I have many friends that they’re favorite Star Wars film is Rogue One, showing that these films have the potential to present Star Wars to newer audiences.

Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy has been part of the Lucasfilm family since Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Her track record of blockbuster films is impressive and makes sense why she is the head of Lucasfilm. But maybe things haven’t turned out as good.

So far, the two Star Wars standalone films have had some directorial shake-ups, with Gareth Edwards having to do reshoots per the producer’s request. Most noticeably, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were replaced by Ron Howard half way of the filming of Solo. In this sense, Lucasfilm hasn’t been straightforward with the directos on what they want from a Star Wars film. While Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were being replaced because they tried in making the Solo film a comedy movie, Rian Johnson has free will to add as much comedy as he wants in The Last Jedi. Maybe there should be guidelines regarding what Kathleen Kennedy wants from the Star Wars Trilogy and the Star Wars Stories.

I don’t see anyone replacing Kathleen Kennedy as of now, but maybe we’ll see some slight change in leadership for the upcoming years. I might even consider bringing George Lucas back for some creative guidance.

Marvel Studios

So far, Marvel Studios is in good hands. The superheroes keep doing hit after hit. Now with their new expansion into other genres, with Thor: Ragnarok being a comedy and the upcoming Ant-Man and The Wasp being a Romantic Comedy, Marvel is reinventing their characters to get rid of the so-called superhero fatigue.

Avengers: Infinity Way will be a transition point for the next phase of Marvel films, introducing new characters with the Avengers ensemble we’ve seen so far. We still don’t know what this could mean moving forward, but I’m glad that Marvel is willing to put some renowned characters on the bench for a while as lesser-known characters like Ant-Man, Black Panther and Guardians Of The Galaxy have a more prominent role in the MCU. In order to keep producing the same amount of films Marvel wants, they need to embrace newer characters to refresh the universe and prevent the super hero fatigue that many critics have talked about.

Keep It Consistent

As I’ve said in a previous article, most of these decisions and criticisms boil down to consistency within the company’s overall strategy. There are some cases where there’s not that much of a problem, like Marvel and Walt Disney Animation Studios. In other cases, there are some issues that affect the performance of the projects, like the case of Disneynature and Pixar. Bob Iger might be too busy dealing with the Fox merger, but there are some fires that need to be shut before stepping down as CEO.

Disney Media Networks

Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media

Upcoming Streaming Service

Disney/ Fox Deal

Laughing Place: Japanese Professor States That Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White” Promotes Sexual Violence

This is one of those stories that happens every once in a while expressing some sexual message might be involved in Disney films. The claim comes from an academic paper, saying that kissing without consent to wake up the princesses can be considered rape and sexual violence. Due to the cultural significance that these films have, there will always be conspiracy theories and claims of sexual messages. So far it has been a trope to keep finding subliminal messages in Disney films.

Source:Laughing Place

State Of The Walt Disney Company: 2018 Should Be The Year Of Consistency

In 2017, The Walt Disney Company had one of the most successful years of the company. Several movies were released to critical acclaim, Disney Parks kept in constant growth, and they began one of the most important sales in Hollywood’s history. Bob Iger is happy, but that doesn’t mean there’s still room for improvement.

One of the most important things that Disney should be aiming is consistency, something we are not getting from all the divisions. I understand how big the company is and the complexities of each film division, with its own creative culture. In this complexity is where Disney should have some traction to stabilize and try out different ways to handle each division.

This current theme of consistency expands throughout most divisions and needs to be handled with care. With the Disney/Fox deal going on, maybe it is the moment when it is difficult to have each area of the company firing on all cylinders.

We need to understand better what is going on with some areas. One example is the current amount of offerings at the parks. Even though we have a lot of attractions on the way, other areas of the parks are in an undesirable state. Other case is the merchandise, were there is an impressive amount of offerings that might confuse the consumer, especially with the toys. The more confusion, the fewer sales, and the brand loses its value.

I’m not expecting a negative year for Disney. If 2017 went great with some minor details, 2018 could be the strongest year we’ve ever seen for the company if they play their cards accordingly. There’s time to regroup and let the company be directed to one path with Bob Iger staying as CEO for a couple of years. The company still is understanding how big it is right now with Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and now Fox under their wings. It is time to consolidate the culture of the brand so that these divisions can breathe freely in a healthy, creative and consistent environment.

State Of The Walt Disney Company: Disney Studio Entertainment

Disney Media Networks

Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media

Upcoming Streaming Service

Disney/ Fox Deal