Thursday, August 22, 2013

Breaking News: Disney's Next (Unannounced) Fairy Tale: "Giants"

Remember me hinting there was another fairy tale feature in development at Disney Feature Animation I couldn't yet announce due to Disney pulling all the info? Well this is it. And this time it's "boy-centric".

Make way for Giants. (Actually Storm Giants.)

Since D23 has spilled the beans on many Disney projects we've also gotten some sneak peeks at films in development too. This movie is still pretty early on in the development process and Disney have yet to officially announce this so there's a chance it may go away BUT for now it's looking solid.

Director Nathan Greno (co-director on Tangled) has already pulled together a couple of table reads (ie, he has a working script) and is well into the concept and design stage as well. Giants is said to be to Jack and the Beanstalk "what Tangled is to Rapunzel and Frozen is to the Snow Queen", which means it could have many things in common with the fairy tale or it only be using the fairy tale as a starting point.

Thanks to Brendon Connelly at Bleeding Cool, as of yesterday afternoon, we have some character and plot details - much more than expected! Note: it appears that the human characters are actually human as well (not talking mice, or ducks, or whatever Goofy is*):
(A) few years from now, we’ll be some distance away from Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, a film with which Giants shares more than a few specifics.
For one thing, they both have a hero called Jack, and Giants named for the Fee Fi Fo Fum rhymes. In this story, these names are abbreviations of Feebus, Fifen, Fogel and Fobert, a family of giants at the heart of the tale. There’s another brother too, Faustus, their leader. Like all good villains, he’s got a relatable point of view, he’s just not quite joining the dots correctly.
Also like Singer’s film, we see the introduction of a love interest from a class above Jack. In this case, Angelina isn’t royalty, but just from a merchant family, though her parents do see him as being “below” her. 
Stills from Disney's Mickey & the Beanstalk 1947
The real money is manifest in Marco, born to nobility and the third corner of a love triangle with Jack and Angelina. He’s a good guy, though, and the only reason he and Jack can’t be fast friends from the off is that they’re both drawn to Angelina. And, yes, he’s called Marco because, like Polo, he wants to travel – and to open up trade routes. 
The fourth human lead is Inma, a scrappy tomboy type – and something of a class warrior, I understand. She’s the one I’m rooting for in this story, the tireless fighter against injustice, taken less seriously because she happens to be a pre-teen girl. Of course, there is that story about David and Goliath
But, okay, it’s not the humans that get the title billing here. It’s the giants. The Storm Giants. Huge, thunderous figures.

In this story, the Storm Giants have made a pact with the humans. If the humans work for them and give them a percentage of their harvest and livestock, they’ll return the favour by keeping danger and threats at bay. At first, it must have been appealing to have a Giant agree to fight your corner, but the people aren’t getting enough for themselves now. Faustus’ name is seeming to be a touch ironic. 
And this is where we find ourselves at the beginning. As you might expect, there’s then a journey up to where the Giants live and some terrible conflict between the humans and the Storm Giants. There’s a lot of sneaking about and gruesome recipes and all that good stuff you’re used to from fairy tales about ogres and their ilk. 
But what you may not expect is how Jack ends up befriending one of the Storm Giants – and this is what sews the beans, if you will, for the adventure, and the big changes it brings about.
There has been no official response from Disney on Giants at this time.

You can read the rest of the article HERE, which also highlights details on the approach of the film and how it's likely to end up looking. (And yes - it will be CG, not hand drawn. It's going to take a huge success elsewhere in 2D land for Disney to try that again unfortunately.)

From the details above, this sounds like it actually might be a Jack and the Beanstalk retelling this time around, instead of one of those vague "inspired by" concoctions so, after being sadly disappointed by Frozen's lack of a fairy tale anywhere to be seen (it might be a beautiful fantasy but it's not The Snow Queen and it's not a "new" fairy tale either) my interest in what Disney might do with a fairy tale is once again piqued. It's early days yet though (very early) so right now we can still expect quite a few changes.
It won't be the first time Disney has tackled Jack and the Beanstalk (the classic Mickey and the Beanstalk short from 1947 is quite wonderful and images from that film have popped up regularly in Disney's merchandise and products along the way, including the video game Epic Mickey). Disney/ABCs Once Upon A Time had a brief storyline line about Jack (Jacqueline) and the Beanstalk but it felt unexplored and too short lived, though the giant, Anton, did survive to make it to Storybrooke and in episodes beyond and the magic beans have been the main magic source for most of Season 2 (and catapulted the characters into Neverland for Season 3).

I'm very curious to see how they handle the boy-billing for a fairy tale feature animated film and if they can resist the princess marketing tie-ins in any way. There's a lot more to fairy tales than just princesses and I'd dearly love to see one of the biggest influences on fairy tale perception today acknowledge that (and maybe even have fun).

Here, to remind you how fun Jack and the Beanstalk can be is Mickey and the Beanstalk, complete with introduction by Professor Ludwig von Drake, who reminds viewers that Jack and the Beanstalk has been told many times by many different people in many different ways.


Additional source: Slashfilm

*Goofy is supposed to be a dog but Pluto doesn't seem aware of that and Goofy is in love with Clarabelle... which is... bizarre.

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