Entertainment behind the scenes
John Lasseter, the Walt Disney Co’s chief creative officer, walked onto the stage at the company’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, on Sunday wearing a suit jacket over a Hawaiian shirt, and the crowd greeted him with the cheers and shouts usually reserved for a conquering rock god. At one point, a fan held up a flashing red Buzz Lightyear toy the way someone might hoist a cigarette lighter at a concert.
With an adoring audience of more than 3,000 Disney fans before him, Lasseter spent much of the presentation talking about Disney’s new push to reclaim its former glory in hand-drawn animation, an artform the studio abandoned after 2004′s box office failure “Home on the Range.” Lasseter is known for pioneering computer-generated imagery (CGI) on animated movies like “Toy Story” at Pixar Animation Studios, but he went to great lengths to promote Disney’s upcoming projects in that other style of filmmaking, which paradoxically Pixar helped to make less popular through the success of its CGI movies before Disney acquired the studio in 2006.
Lasseter described Disney’s upcoming hand-drawn movie “The Princess and the Frog,” set for a Dec. 11 release, and he offered more details on the new “Winnie the Pooh” movie that Disney announced earlier this week, as a hand-drawn film set for release in spring 2011.
“Honestly, this is the most blessed production I’ve ever worked on,” Lasseter told the crowd about “Winnie the Pooh.”