Disney Steps Up Classic 3-D Conversions

Well, that didn’t take long. After the surprising success of The Lion King 3D (which is expected to cross $80 million today, coinciding with the Blu-ray launch), Disney plans to roll out more animated classics theatrically in 3-D: Beauty and the Beast (Jan. 13, 2012); Pixar’s Finding Nemo (Sept. 14, 2012) and Monsters, Inc. (Jan. 18, 2013, a precursor to the Monsters University prequel, which arrives June 21, 2013); and The Little Mermaid (Sept. 13, 2013).

Originally released in 1991, Beauty and the Beast, of course, was the first animated film ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The 3-D conversion was actually completed before The Lion King‘s, and it’s already had a limited release at the El Capitan in Hollywood. Producer Don Hahn previously told me that while they learned a lot from the Beauty and the Beast 3-D conversion, The Lion King was much more challenging: the characters required more attention because of their horizontal design, as did the epic African locale. However, the result was a much more cinematic experience that pushed the envelope of hand-drawn 3-D conversion, overcaming the cardboard cutout factor.

Disney stereographer Robert Neuman figured out a wonderful hybrid aesthetic for hand-drawn 3-D. By creating the fusion of 2D animation with stereoscopic 3-D, he “created a new medium with a fresh look.”

The question now becomes: Is the enormous 3-D success of The Lion King a one-off or a game-changer?

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Movies, Tech

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