Tag Archives: Disney

“The Year Disney Started to Take Diversity Seriously”

“Mira Nair didn’t know it, but for years, she lived just 15 minutes away from the subject of her next film—chess champion Phiona Mutesi, a prodigy from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. It took the attention of one particularly dedicated Disney executive, Tendo Nagenda, to introduce Mutesi and Nair, then shepherd through the studio a film: Queen of Katwe, a movie that looked almost nothing like anything else from the company that brings you Avengers, jedis, and pirates.

“I’ve never had a guardian angel in any film in a studio,” Nair tellsVanity Fair. “[Tendo] is truly one because he made it happen.”

Katwe is a film about a young African girl, with essentially no speaking roles for white characters, directed by an Indian woman. It’s an anomaly even in an industry that prides itself on having an imagination. But it’s also one of many examples of how Disney is diversifying its array of upcoming films, presenting more inclusive visions of everything from classic musicals to a galaxy far, far away.

In the near future, we’ll have a Christmas movie starring Kevin Hart as Santa Claus, an adaptation of The Nutcracker starring Misty Copeland and Morgan Freeman, and a surprising reimagining of The Rocketeer starring a young black girl. Ice Cube is working on a hip-hop version of Oliver Twist. Moana, Disney’s first Polynesian princess movie, is set for a Thanksgiving-week release. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Disney’s latest go-to music man, who also penned songs for Moana) will co-star in a Mary Poppins sequel.

The upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story presents an intergalactic rebellion from the likes ofForest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, and Donnie Yen—and all led by a woman, Felicity Jones. Between 2016 and 2018, about 24 percent of the studio’s live-action releases will feature ethnic minority leads, Disney says…”

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/11/disney-films-inclusive

“Riz Ahmed Talks His ‘Rogue One’ Character, Says ‘Star Wars’ Is ‘Leading the Way’ for Hollywood Diversity”

 

Riz Ahmed, whose breakout role was in this year’s HBO drama The Night Of, stars in December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The new movie has the most diverse cast of any Star Wars film to date, also starring Forest Whitaker, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna, and Sharon Duncan-Brewster, to name just a few. Ahmed spoke about this diversity in a recent interview, and also provided some insight into his cargo pilot-turned-rebel character Bodhi.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about The Night Of and Rogue One, Ahmed talked a bit about how he approached his character for the new Star Wars movie and gave him a pretty fantastic background story.

Bodhi is someone who’s been running away his whole life. His planet gets occupied, so he goes, ‘How do I get out of here?’ And the way was by becoming a long-distance cargo pilot. But, of course, that comes with guilt. If you look down and you’re wearing the same Imperial uniform with the same insignia that the people occupying your planet are wearing, it’s guilt and a lot of running away. I had the idea that this character is jittery. He’s jumpy. There’s a restlessness to him. This comes from the trauma and guilt.

THR then asked him how he felt about the fact that this is the most diverse cast of any Star Wars movie ever, to which he replied that he feels extremely positive.

I feel like Star Wars is leading the way. I like to think we are all heading in this direction. Some people are kicking and screaming or dragging their feet. Some people are sprinting. It’s really a credit to [Lucasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy and the team there that they want to embrace the future and the reality of a global film market. It feels contemporary, it feels global. Culture is a space for us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, so why don’t we just have as many different kinds of shoes as possible..?”

http://screencrush.com/riz-ahmed-rogue-one-diversity/

“All About Auli’i Cravalho, the Amazing 16-Year-Old Voice of Disney’s Moana”

“Before you get to know Auli’i Cravalho, the amazing 16-year-old voice of Disney’s new heroine Moana, it’s probably best you learn how to pronounce her name.

“It’s ‘ow,’ like you stubbed your toe. ‘Lee,’ like Bruce Lee. Then, you add an ‘e.’ Auli’i Cravalho,” she explains (with bonus pantomimes) to PEOPLE in the above video.

 The Hawaiian native, who turned 16 on Tuesday (the day before her new movie premieres!), was born on the Big Island and now lives in Mililani on the island of Oahu with her mom, Puanani. The rising star was discovered almost by accident, when Disney talent scouts saw her sing in a YouTube video.

Cravalho, a member of her school’s glee club, gives props to her mom for her strong pipes. “I credit my singing to my mom because she didn’t give me a binky when I was a baby. I cried and screamed for the first six months — my mom would say four years of my life — and I developed wonderful lungs,” she says.

For the first-time actress, performing in the privacy of a sound booth was a welcome introduction to the big screen. “I really like it because when I’m in the studio, I kind of just close my eyes. I don’t have to worry about what I look like too much, and I don’t have to worry about perhaps not moving my eyebrows in the right direction to look sad or something,” she explains.

Plus, when it comes to acting with her voice, Cravalho is a natural. “I’m kind of an animated person,” she adds. “I was given this really big blessing that my voice just kind of carries the emotion.”

In the film, Cravalho plays Moana Waialiki, the high-spirited daughter of the chief of a mystical Polynesian island, who sets sail to an island with a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) to help save her family from disaster. The story is full of Disney fantasy, but Cravalho says her character’s journey toward self-discovery — and the fact that she makes that journey alone — is relatable to everyone…”

http://people.com/movies/all-about-aulii-cravalho-the-amazing-16-year-old-voice-behind-moana/

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“‘Mulan’ Gets 3D, Live Action Treatment From Disney For 2018”

“Disney is putting a live-action 3D Mulan film on the fast track for November 2018, building upon a tried and true strategy of taking already branded and beloved animated films and giving them new life for  the big screen. This one also has a female protagonist, not unlike their box office hits Cinderella and Maleficent. The studio plans a worldwide casting search for the lead Chinese actress for the role. This is not the first time that the movie has been made into a live-action film. One was mounted by Chinese filmmakers in 2009 — Mulan: Rise of a Warrior.

The move is interesting, given the strength of the Chinese in the entertainment industry right now and the fact that the company just opened a major theme park in Shanghai so we expect a Mulan-themed adventure ride in the future there. Jackie Chan, the beloved Chinese actor, dubbed the animated musical Mulan for Disney in 1998 when the film was released in China.

The story follows the rise of Mulan during the Han Dynasty when this daughter of a legendary warrior impersonates a man to fight against a Hun invasion. The new live-action film is combining the story of the ballad of the legendary Hua Mulan with the highly popular 1998 animated film, which carried the same name and made a whopping $304M worldwide at the box office.

The spec, written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin, was purchased by the studio last  year and the project has been on the fast track ever since as they brought aboard Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Jurassic World, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, and the upcoming Avatar sequel) to get it into shooting shape…”

http://deadline.com/2016/10/mulan-live-action-3d-disney-november-2018-1201830651/

“Why Disney Decided to Make Moana the Ultimate Anti-Princess”

“Partway through Moana, an animated musical due out Nov. 23, the titular character’s traveling companion, a tattooed demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), refers to her as a princess. “I am not a princess,” Moana says. “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess,” he counters. But Disney’s latest heroine, a 16-year-old Polynesian voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, puts an end to this mansplaining. She doesn’t do it with a witty retort; instead she does it by navigating the ocean, defeating a pissed-off lava monster and saving the world with a dimwitted pet chicken in tow.

The newest Disney character to join the ranks of Belle and Ariel is, in fact, just what she says she is: a heroine. That’s the point, say directors Ron Clements and John Musker, who helmed such classics of the genre as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. “We saw this as a hero’s journey, a coming-of-age story, in a different tradition than the princess stories,” says Clements. Adds Musker: “I don’t know that any of the other princesses we’ve been involved with we’d describe as badass.”

The idea for an animated feature set in the Pacific Islands was conceived five years ago by Musker, who was inspired by the novels of Herman Melville and Joseph Conrad and paintings by Paul Gauguin. Recognizing that all of these perspectives on the region came through the eyes of westerners, he began a deep dive into Polynesian mythology, culminating in a trip, along with longtime partner Clements, to Tahiti, Samoa and Fiji.

During the trip, Musker and Clements rendezvoused with archaeologists and linguists, choreographers and village chiefs. By the time they left, a central theme was beginning to come into focus: navigation. “We learned about dead reckoning, where they sailed by their knowledge of the stars and the currents,” explains Musker. “It was very much a source of pride to them that they were the world’s greatest navigators in doing so…”

http://time.com/4473277/moana-disney-princess-directors-interview/

“Floyd Norman, Disney’s First Black Animator, Reflects On The Studio’s Past, Present And Future”

“Everything Floyd Norman says is worth writing down. The longtime Disney animator carries an impossibly sunny disposition, almost always speaking in complete sentences with enviable poise.

That’s not empty flattery. Norman’s colleagues seem to agree. For proof, see the new documentary “Floyd Norman: An Animated Life.”

Opening in limited release and premiering on VOD platforms this weekend, the movie traces its 81-year-old subject’s boundless devotion to Disney. In 1956, Norman became the studio’s first black animator, working alongside Walt Disney himself as a story artist on such classics as “Sleeping Beauty,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book” and “Robin Hood.”

Norman left Disney after Walt’s death in 1966, instead capturing footage of the civil-rights movement and working on other animated properties, including “The Smurfs,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “Fat Albert.” His devotion brought him back to Disney in the ‘90s, when he contributed to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Mulan,” “Monsters, Inc.” and more. But Norman was forced into retirement at age 65. He was understandably bitter, but Disney was home. Norman began showing up with his wife, who works at Disney Publishing, and his celebrity status around the campus grew. That led, inevitably, to more gigs, meaning he is, once again, employed at Disney.

The documentary, directed by Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey, is a sweet take on a life devoted to merriment. That Norman broke boundaries along the way is, in his eyes, happenstance. I hopped on the phone with Norman earlier this week to gab about Disney’s history.

You arrived at the tail end of Disney’s golden days, and you left right as the quality waned in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Then you returned after the proverbial Disney Renaissance hit in the ‘90s. So you’ve pretty much only been there when the studio was thriving.

I never felt like I really left, though. Even though I wasn’t part of that ‘80s and early ‘90s renaissance, I was still nearby because I was working at Disney Publishing. So I was still able to watch it all firsthand…”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/floyd-norman-disney_us_57bf377ae4b04193420e22be?section=&

“Here’s What We Learned about ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ from the Explosive New Trailer”

“It’s four months and counting until the new “Star Wars” standalone film “Rogue One” premieres, and the excitement and anxiety aren’t waning — especially not after the new trailer that aired during the Olympics Thursday night.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” takes place in between the events of the third and fourth episodes, “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope.” It follows a Rebel Alliance mission to steal the plans to the Death Star before the Galactic Empire can use it for evil.

There’s no “Inception”-like horn in the new trailer, but there is plenty of imagery of the Death Star, Jedha (which is like the Mecca for believers of the Force), the modern C-3PO comic-relief droid, battles with blasters, and more.

Oh, and we have the first look at Darth Vader.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” hits theaters December 16. In the meantime, theorize with us about what all of these new images from the trailer mean…”