Looks like Disney Feature Animation is having second thoughts about a lot of things right now. Here's a summary:
"King of the Elves", a CG feature that's been on the Disney Animation projects' site for a while, quietly disappeared at the end of last year. (See HERE for a discussion on KotE - there's also discussion on the "Snow Queen" thread linked to below.)
Rumors of "Snow Queen" getting the axe (again) surfaced on February 3rd and seem to be confirmed now (see this enormous forum discussion - lots pages/entries - following the announcement of SQ getting greenlit, then cut HERE, as well as the TAG blog HERE, though I can't find the reference in a quick search.) This is despite a very recent public confirmation in early December 2009 by Disney Producer Peter del Vecho that "Snow Queen" was to be the next hand-drawn feature after the Pooh movie (see my post HERE).
And, also surfacing on February 3rd, it appears "Rapunzel" may be about to have (another) name change, though it should be noted, insiders are quick to say "Rapunzel" has always been a working title. See above for the initial change. (See HERE for the article.)
No official sword from the Mouse House on any of these yet but we're unlikely to hear anything official about the cancellations. Regarding the name change we should know in the next few months.
You, like many others, may be asking why? (Or: "WHY?!") Because there's no official, announcement reasons are vague and can only be considered rumors at this stage (even when information seems to be coming from the inside).King of the Elves disappeared very quietly and as not much information was released about the project in the first place there doesn't seem to be much discussion on the subject.
Snow Queen, on the other hand, has been getting a lot of attention by Disney watchers. From what I'm reading, many people picked up Hans Christian Andersen's story to read for the first time when Disney announced it was the next 2D project less than two months ago. Skepticism turned to excitement in the potential of the story, especially for animation, so the main rumor that Disney couldn't settle on a story approach have left people with their jaws dropped in shock. (Stay tuned for some glimpses at past attempts in the next few posts.)
The "Rapunzel" name change seems to be a reaction to 'too many girly pictures' and an attempt to attract more boys to the film/Disney product. Initially titled "Rapunzel Unbraided" then changed to just "Rapunzel" the proposed names take a different approach. The current possibilities are: "The Thief and the Tower", "The Hidden Tower" or perhaps even "Tangle" or "The Switch", though the last name may something else altogether.
There seems to be concern about Disney only being about fairy tales (again) and that there are already too many 'Princess pictures' in a row. The other factor, especially in SQ's cancellation, seems to be how "Princess and the Frog" 'underperformed' at the box office (read, it wasn't a blockbuster like "Avatar", though the current earnings would be considered an outstanding success by most film companies).
So what's next?
The answer to that is barely anything. "Rapunzel" will still be released and after that is a "Winnie the Pooh" feature. "Ramayana" has been bandied about for a while as a possible project and I read that it's mentioned in the introduction of the book "The Art of the Princess and the Frog", something I can't confirm as I haven't read the book yet myself. After that, nothing is confirmed or even rumored anymore. "The Ballad of Nessie" still remains on the shorts project list but this means not only are no more fairy tales planned and no more 2D but that a whole lot of people just lost their jobs. If Enchanted 2 wants animators (see my post earlier in the week HERE) there are a LOT to choose from this week!
Regarding the future of animated fairy tale films, not just by Disney, the response to "Rapunzel" will be telling but possibly not as much as when Pixar release their first fairy tale "The Bear and the Bow" (see my post on the exciting sounding movie HERE), which has a very different approach (ie. not a musical princess film).
If I find out any updates you can be certain I will post them.