I'll save you the finer details of the long-troubled production on "The Snow Queen" Disney animated feature and try to sum it up quickly.
The film was at one point a serious contender to join the Disney animated feature films legacy around 2002, but when Glen Keane left the project, news puttered out. Here's a snippet from an article regarding his departure:
Now Disney studio execs were understandably upset when Keane upped and quit The Snow Queen, a project extremely important to WDFA’s future since it will be their first feature length cartoon based on a classic fairy tale since the original Aladdin back in 1992. Mouse House execs are really counting on this movie to help the Walt Disney Company reconnect with its increasingly disenfranchised customers. So to have a big gun like Glen opt not to work on that project anymore (and take a flyer on something as flaky as Rapunzel) was really a blow. That said, Disney execs were still thrilled that Keane opted to stay at WDFA.
It seems as though 2003 was the end of the line for an animated "The Snow Queen".
In 2006, Disney's famed in-house composer Alan Menken was writing a stage musical version of the story but news of the project also halted.
Various names have been attached to the project over the years including the Brizzi brothers, Dick Zondag, and Dave Goetz. News has been spotty at best. The feature was finally proclaimed dead in the water by Disney fans when no more news emerged in several years.
In October 2008, concept art was shown off by Don Hahn at an event promoting his new book The Alchemy of Animation. However, no explanation of its status was given.
That art can be found here:
That blog belongs to animator Harald Siepermann. He stated the project was canceled in a March 2008 interview at Animated-Views:
The Snow Queen. Can you tell me about that?HS: I worked together with Dick Zondag on The Snow Queen. I’ve known him since Balto, actually, which we did for Steven Spielberg animation. When the time came for The Snow Queen, they gave me call and then I did some first design based on a young Meryl Streep kind of character. Unluckily, the project was canceled because Disney didn’t want to go into fairytales anymore at that time. They said that they wanted something wise, witty and more modern, because at that time, you know, everybody said that the Disney formula was dead and nobody wanted to see princesses and stuff like that. So, that project was canceled, sadly. But I spent a couple of weeks on some Queens, trying different levels of caricature on her, some more cartoony, others less.
You can find the rest of that interview here: http://animated-views.com/2008/enchanted-interviews-chapter-four-harald-siepermann-and-troy-quane/
I e-mailed Mr. Siepermann and he had this to say:
Dear Neal,Nice to hear from you. Anyway, I haven't heard from any Snowqueen-plans, which doesn't mean, that it's not going to happen, but so far nobody has talked to me about it. I'm sorry I can't help you out there, but I will keep my eyes and ears open.Thank you, H
Whispers concerning this film's status have never ceased. Many a Disney animation project have come and gone in silence, however the exact status of "The Snow Queen"'s production has remained a popular debate in forums. The most recent rumors being that Mike Gabriel (co-director of "Pocahontas", "The Rescuers Down Under") was directing for a 2013 release and it would be traditionally animated. Dean Wellins (screenplay of "Rapunzel") has also been on-again, off-again reportedly attached to the project.
But, those are just rampant rumors.
Mike Gabriel didn't have much to tell me when I asked him A) If the film had resumed production, B) Was he the director, and C) Was it releasing in 2013? Here's his response:
Sorry dude, the studio doesn't want Snow Queen info out at this point. Thanks for the interest.
Now there's more fuel for the fire, and this time it seems to be legitimate news.
Alan Menken spoke to the Italian press recently while in Milan (where the stage version of "Beauty and the Beast" is about to open).
The interview, from a respected Italian newspaper, was posted yesterday. It seemed pretty clear that he is working on an animated "The Snow Queen". Here it is for you all to dissect:
(translated from Italian)
In his future at Disney?I'm preparing the soundtracks of two cartoons, Rapunzel and Snow Queen, and of a live musical film feature of Beauty and the Beast. At the same time I am also working on a musical comedy that will debut in Autumn 2010, Leap of Faith.
You can find that interview here (warning: it's in Italian): http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmsSezioni/spettacoli/200906articoli/44340girata.asp
We all know that Menken is working on next year's Disney tentpole animated feature, the CGI "Rapunzel". How come he's mentioning "The Snow Queen" again? He clearly said 'cartoon'. He separated out Beauty and the Beast and Leap of Faith as live-action.
Perhaps I'm reading too far into it, but I think it's interesting that while I called it "The Snow Queen" in my e-mail, Mike Gabriel merely referred to it as 'Snow Queen'. Alan Menken also simply called it 'Snow Queen'. No The affixed. Simple coincidence? Finally, Mike Gabriel didn't say "that project was canceled" (a response I got from a Disney animator when I asked about the status of once-Disney animation project "Joe Jump"). Instead, he said Disney wants no information out at this point. That's not a "yes, production has resumed", but it's also not a "no, that project is dead".
Again, maybe I'm just reading too far into this.
Between this winter's "The Princess and the Frog", the first traditionally-animated film in five years and first Broadway-style princess film since 1992's "Aladdin" and next year's CGI "Rapunzel", it seems as if Disney is willing to do 'traditional' projects again, not just 'hip' or 'modern' ones. 2D is back for sure now, because we know 2011 will bring a new hand-drawn Winnie the Pooh film. So traditional-animation is back and serious films are okay for Disney again. Could John Lasseter, current savior of Walt Disney Animation Studios, have seen the potential in this film and resurrected the project?
No legitimate news since 2005, but now Menken has stirred the debate up again. We know this is a different Disney than a few years ago when the project was canceled. Does this mean "The Snow Queen" is back?
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!