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Disney blames their cancelled Stop Motion project for $50 million loss

September 14, 2012

Update to an earlier Stop Motion Works post about this news item. Only my view/observation – when film projects & budgets get too big and bureaucratic, internal business politics & egos takes-over … the creative art/craft of filmmaking seems to get LOST. Yes, filmmaking is a business and this stuff has always existed in commercial mainstream filmmaking since its early history, but now as the production budgets gets EXTREME the business & profit factor LUST is much worse, like on steroids!

Disneys cancellation of Henry Selicks stop motion animated film costs them 50 million

Disney Writing Down $50 Million Loss Rather Than Finishing Henry Selick’s Next Movie

Disney to write off over $50m as film cancelled

After reading the above various soundbytes, I just get feeling perhaps the formerly ’still was in production’ Henry Selick stop motion project being used as a scapegoat and/or sacrificial lamb for Disney’s financial woes via some creative accounting? (disclaimer -only my speculation & editorial opinion :) ) I would think the already completed John Carter that had a $250 million budget (and $200 million loss) should bear some responsibility for Disney’s financial diffculties. John Carter feature was an initial loss but I hear that The Avengers saved Disney’s financial rear end.

As I puff my Gandalf pipe and concluding observations:  The mainstream mega millions stakes motion picture industry is stuck in their orthodox business model where they continually gamble all their eggs in the Tentpole features. I do not think they will change or only until competition forces them, and then possibly they might adjust in attempts to survive. That is why I prefer small independent film-made products where there is more freedom, choices, variety, creativity and optional distribution venues (especially thanks to technological advancement) for delivery to niche audiences.

LINKS: Henry Selick’s Stop Motion Feature AXED by DisneyWhat is a ‘tentpole movie’?

Topics: Films - Shorts - Animation, Puppet Animation, Stop Motion | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Disney blames their cancelled Stop Motion project for $50 million loss”

  1. Dave Hettmer says:

    “us 2-bit small time amateur no-budget short film makers – all know that the important thing is to get the story right before investing in all the setbuilding, puppetmaking, and lengthy animation process, you would think the big boys would know that too”

    They’ve become soft. Quite often the process of making a film will include revisions, and I think it’s taken for granted that story problems will work themselves out. Aardman worked out story problems on Chicken Run very well, and the same for Wrong Trousers. Were Rabbit didn’t have the same impact as the other two, but it was consistent within itself as a lighter story.

    So based on experience they can have some confidence that they can work out the kinks as they appear. But clearly not always, since they shut down T&H.

    Selick’s projects tend to be somewhat boutique, edgy enough that they won’t have the kind of universal appeal as Chicken Run. But since he’s succeeded on several like that, My conjecture is that he started down a similar path but like Aardman and T&H ran into a wall. There’s no question that the artist were up to the task – after all the films he’s made he wouldn’t have suddenly hired a bunch of people who weren’t up to the task.

  2. L.I.O. says:

    I agree with Grecodan, but I expand it WIDER – Most of mainstream flick biz do not understand the process of stop motion animation which to them they likely see as a sub-genre . Stop motion creative/production process is more organic. That means ’suits’ not able to exercise as much control during its production (like Cgi & 2d animation). I have always said, do not rely on mainstream as an indicator of Stop Motion’s popularity or success. Tinsel Town aka Studios/Suits not changed even since Uncle Ray’s days …. he always had difficult time selling his brand of fx animation.

    This is an interesting related observation/commentary write-up (also read comments to article) ….
    The Stop Motion Animation Box Office Glass Ceiling

  3. StopmoNick says:

    From what I’ve read, Hollywood studios don’t make their money from bringing in a reasonable profit on most of their films. They make it on one or two big successes, with losses, minor earnings, or break-evens on all the rest. So films that lose money are almost the norm, with a couple of big hits saving the bacon, every year. Singling out just one to blame it all on seems unfair, unless it lost, say, 200 million or so…
    Independents, on the other hand, live or die on how their one film does.
    I’d like to know what was wrong with the Selleck film too, and why it took so long to figure out that it wasn’t working.
    The last time this happened with a stopmo feature was Aardman’s cancelled Tortoise and Hare, they got into major production before realising there wasn’t enough of a story there. we – us 2-bit small time amateur no-budget short film makers – all know that the important thing is to get the story right before investing in all the setbuilding, puppetmaking, and lengthy animation process, you would think the big boys would know that too. You can’t guarantee financial success with any film, but you can do the homework so it is a film worth making and has at least a fair chance. What I’m wondering is, was this going to be a bad film, or was it going to be an interesting film that lacked the broad popular appeal needed to rake in the big bucks?

  4. Dave Hettmer says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some spin here for the financial wonks. If the execs manage to rewrite the accounting so they can blame losses on specific projects that appear somewhat isolated from Disney as a whole, then it’s easier to make the losses appear to be aberrations rather that a sign that Disney is having general problems creating good product. “Blips” in the creativity curve won’t drop stock value much, if at all, while a trend of problems will.

    The rubber-necker in me would really like to find out what went wrong with this project. No one outside the production knew what it was about, yet they had a full studio of people working for a year or more. That’s a lot of time and money to spend on something that isn’t working. I’m guessing much of those resources were spent trying to salvage it creatively. Also, no one near the top of the creative side is publicly lambasting Disney, which makes me think this wasn’t just some clueless exec pulling the plug.

  5. Peter A. Montgomery says:


  6. grecodan says:

    I will reiterate earlier opinions…this has EGO written all over it.

    New studio chief. A production located in far off Portland (Portland!!!) being filmed in a process the chief does not understand.

    It was doomed from the day he arrived in Burbank.


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