First Look at Big Hero 6 from Disney

After much speculation about Disney and Marvel teaming up for the obscure Big Hero 6, the studio officially announced that the animated feature directed by Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh) will hit theaters Nov. 7, 2014. Not surprisingly, the first superhero collaboration is a lush Miyazaki-inspired adventure about robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and his robot sidekick Baymax, who join forces with a reluctant team of newbie crime fighters to save the mythical San Fransokyo from destruction.

Cross-pollination between Disney Animation and Marvel was inevitable, just as it will be with Lucasfilm. But now Disney has the advantage over its rivals in leveraging the superhero genre as part of its animation slate.

Hall, a comic geek, went through the Marvel archive in search of obscure properties that Disney could make its own with frenetic energy and popular visual tropes, reports the Los Angeles Times. And the one that whetted John Lasseter’s appetite was the manga riff, Big Hero 6, by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau. Like Rich Moore’s delightful Wreck-It Ralph, it’s an outside the box project with cultural resonance and commercial appeal.

The video clip below provides a sneak peek at the painterly eye candy on display for San Fransokyo. It’s a Disneyfied anime dream come true for the animators. And, by the way, before totally writing off 2D at Disney, it should be underscored that while a handful of hand-drawn vets were laid off as part of the studio’s downsizing, drawing is still important, even on CG features. And Disney is committed to melding 2D and 3D into a new hybrid aesthetic. That was the whole point of John Kahrs’ Oscar-winning Paperman experiment: bringing 2D into the 21st century. Now the challenge will be for Kahrs to adapt his innovative technique into a romantic animated feature.

Meanwhile, Frozen (Nov. 27) has all the makings of an organic hand-drawn meets real-world sensibility, as Disney continues to reinvent the fairy tale. I can’t wait to see what Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (the first female director of an animated feature at the studio) have come up with.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Clips, Movies, Production Design, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

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