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Disney Revitalizing Hand-Drawn Animated Features? Genie’s Creator Says Yes!

Disney Animated Movies

Does anybody know what that last 2-D animated feature film to be released from Walt Disney Animation Studios was?

It was Winnie the Pooh in 2011.

What was the last hand-drawn Disney Princess movie? The Princess and the Frog in 2009.

Princess and the Frog

Credit: Disney

With the success of Pixar’s feature films and Disney’s own successful ventures with features like Tangled (2007), the moviemaking giant that championed and pioneered cinematic animation changed course to prioritize making computer-animated feature films over traditional hand-drawn 2-D practices.

While 2-D and hand-drawn animation have remained a part of both Disney and Pixar, they have been demoted to short-film projects–from Sparkshorts to the Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse and television shows. But it looks like that is all about to change.

The Wonderful Spring of Mickey Mouse

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Movie ‘Monsters’ Who Belong on the ‘Monsters, Inc.’ Scare Floor

Walt Disney Animator Eric Golberg–the man who created Robin Williams’ Genie in Disney’s Aladdin (1992)–told IndieWire that plans for more 2-D features are finally in the works!

“I’ve been campaigning for a long time to train up people in hand-drawn, and, as the CG films became more and more popular, that idea became less and less important to the studio,” Goldberg said. “But now we have an atmosphere and a group of people who recognize that’s part of the legacy here, and to actually have content that requires hand-drawn animation is absolutely great. Thank goodness we have people who can do both here, but to actually commit to training up a new generation is a wonderful thing and I think perfectly appropriate for [us].”

Disney's "Sketchbook"

Credit: Disney

Under the guidance of animation veterans like Goldberg, Disney Animation boss Jennifer Lee has been working to find new avenues to maintain and increase the presence of 2-D animation in Disney’s future, committing to new projects and bringing in a new class of Disney Animators.

Lee, Goldberg, and others spoke with IndieWire in anticipation of the release of a new Disney+ docuseries called Sketchbook: a deep dive into the craft and backstory of some of the people behind some of the most iconic Disney characters.

Learn how to draw Emperor Kuzco from The Emperor’s New Groove by Encanto story artist Gabby Capili. Bring Simba from The Lion King to life with 2-D animator Mark Henn. Watch visual development artist Jin Kim move Peter Pan‘s Captain Hook from Neverland to the blank page. Supervising Animator Hyun Min Lee will draw Olaf from Frozen, and story artist Samantha Vilfort will draw Encanto‘s, Mirabel Madrigal. And, yes, viewers will learn how to bring Aladdin‘s Genie to life with the help of 2-D animator/director Eric Goldberg (no magic lamp required, except maybe a desk lamp).

Sketchbook is scheduled to be released on Disney+ on Wednesday, April 27.

While it is still unclear at this time what new 2-D animated feature films will be, one can only hope that they are as stunningly detailed and impactful as the ones that came before them.

We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney movie news as more information comes to light.

About T.K. Bosacki

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, TK Bosacki is a professional writer, amateur adventurer, and lifelong Disney Fanatic. His Disney Park days include Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Nomad Lounge. He believes in starting at the Canada pavilion (IYKYK), and the Monorail is superior to all Ferry Boats.

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