2D Animation “Dead at Disney” According to Former Studio Employee

in Disney, Movies

The Princess and the Frog

Credit: Disney

It’s quite possibly the official end of an era at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

The Walt Disney Company really took off when it released its first-ever official animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in 1937. The film’s success not only made Disney a household name, but also revolutionized the animation industry and set the stage for the next 100 years of animation. It pioneered the use of 2D animation and the multi-plane camera, which it continued to use until the rise of computer animation.

Up close clip of Snow White
Credit: Disney

Although the company would experience its own share of struggles over the next few decades, it always returned to its animated princess films to help turn the studio back around. Unfortunately, although the studio continues to create new princesses for new generations, the last full-length 2D animated movie released by Disney would be The Princess and the Frog, released in 2009.

When Disney’s latest animated film, Wish, was first announced, it was heralded as a culmination of the studio’s 100 years in animation and promised fans a blend of 2D and 3D animation elements. However, with the release of the most recent trailer, the film has received tons of backlash, with many saying it actually looks “half-rendered” and incomplete.

Asha looks forward sternly in the movie 'Wish.'
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

One creator on TikTok, @justineleegarrison, decided to weigh in on the debate. Garrison claims he previously worked for Disney Animation in their technology department for a few years. While he starts off by confirming that he believes the trailer for Wish looks unfinished because the movie is actually unfinished, he quickly segues into a more serious claim.

@justinleegarrison #stitch with @isybelle on paper 2D will never come back to mainstream #disney #disneyanimation ♬ Married Life (From “Up”) – Geek Music

“2D animation is never coming back from Disney,” he states. “Not in any grand scheme like people ask.” He explains that the process for making a 2D animated film at that scale is “completely gone” and “don’t exist anymore.” He continues by adding that even though there are people who want a 2D film and say they would go see it, “it just wouldn’t make as much money as a 3D animated thing because the vocal minority is still not gonna watch it enough times” to match the audience that would go see a 3D animation.

Even more disappointing, Garrison follows up that claim by saying that Disney animation “is dead.” With the amount of up and coming indie studios being opened, and the fact that these studios can afford to take risks that Disney no longer can, there’s more room being created for another animation studio to compete with Disney. Garrison also puts the blame on studio heads focusing on creating films in order to make money rather than to be creative.

Asha (Ariana DeBose) stands looking shocked in 'Wish'
Credit: Disney

While unconfirmed, his claims resonated with thousands of people in the comments. Disney has had several underperforming and disappointing releases within the last few years, and pivoting back to 2D animation just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the studio. 3D animation has received mixed support in the last few years, especially at Disney and Pixar. While studios like Sony and DreamWorks have started to push the envelope with releases like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023) and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022).

It’s led to fans calling for Disney to follow suit and dive into the folds of animation styles rather than continue to rely on their tried-and-true methods. Unfortunately, the studio doesn’t seem to be listening, and it remains to be seen if the final version of Wish will look better and earn it any more support from animation fans. For now at least, it seems as though 2D animation has no future at the Walt Disney Company.

What do you think about the “death of 2D animation” at Disney? Do you think there’s merit in the claim, or will Disney return to its roots one day? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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