John Lasseter, Brad Bird, and Other Legends Start War with Disney

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Lasseter taking over Disney Animation

Credit: Inside the Magic

Walt Disney Animation Studios has been struggling with audiences for a long while now, and even some of their biggest players are fleeing to other studios. Is the house of mouse ready to tango with the team who achieved so much for them?

Logo for Walt Disney Animation
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

With the scandals and controversy surrounding the Disney name in current media, it’s safe to say that the animation icon has taken a kick to the teeth in recent months. Even their biggest project, Wish (2023), is already starting to lose footing with fans and supporters.

Related: Immersive Disney Animation is Nightmare Fuel

New Disney fans are born every day; it’s practically the brand we’ve all been conditioned to since infancy, but what happens when some of Disney’s most iconic, talented, and dedicated artists jump ship and head to Netflix? The Walt Disney Company might soon find out with the new developments from Skydance Media.

John Lasseter and Animation Dream Team Fight Disney

Lasseter with Pixar characters
Credit: Inside the Magic

After stepping down from Disney in 2017, John Lasseter left the studio to lead Skydance in partnership with Apple. The creator behind such iconic Disney and Pixar projects as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Cars, Lasseter was one of the most prominent figures at the Walt Disney Company before misconduct allegations forced him to leave the studio.

Related: Emma Thompson quit a large-scale animated film after John Lasseter joined Skydance

Allegations aside, many animation enthusiasts would agree that his removal from the Disney studio was undoubtedly a factor in the studio’s recent decline. With the announcement of the new film Spellbound (2024), it seems like Lasseter is entering his revenge arc against his former studio, especially considering those who are right behind him.

Art for Spellbound
Credit: Skydance Animation

A recent report from Deadline had this to say about the new film and Skydance’s league with Netflix,

“Spellbound follows the adventures of Ellian, the tenacious princess who must go on a daring quest to save her family and kingdom after a mysterious spell transforms her parents, the King and Queen of Lumbria, into monsters.”

At first glance, that might sound like the plot to a new Disney flick, but it’s Netflix and Skydance that hold the keys to this magic kingdom. However, the similarities between Spellbound and other classic Disney movies don’t just stop there.

Related: Pete Docter Talks Replacing John Lasseter as Pixar Creative Head

The report goes on to list other collaborators involved with the project,

“Spellbound is directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek, Shark Tale) with original score from composer Alan Menken with lyrics by Glenn Slater. Spellbound’s voice cast is led by West Side Story‘s Rachel Zegler, Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, John Lithgow, Jenifer Lewis, Nathan Lane, and Tituss Burgess. The film was written by Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin, and Linda Woolverton and produced by John Lasseter, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Bruce Anderson for Skydance Animation. “

That’s certainly a tall order of talent involved, but Disney fans might recognize Alan Menken as the brilliant composer behind Disney classics like The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), and Beauty and the Beast (1993). The partnership with Netflix also wrangles in other Disney directors for upcoming projects, such as Pixar’s Brad Bird and Rich Moore of  Zootopia (2016) fame.

Lasseter seen with Iger
Credit: Inside the Magic

This isn’t just a simple snub against Disney from a rival studio but a declaration of war. Lasseter, Menken, Bird, and Moore are all personally responsible for some of the studio’s biggest hits. Imagine what they could accomplish with their forces combined.

Related: Disney Animation Plans to Lose Millions

Skydance might not be as legendary or iconic as Walt Disney Animation Studios has become (after all, Disney’s been around for the last century), but a gathering of greats this big is bound to make an impact.

Has Disney finally met its match? Tell Inside the Magic what you think in the comments below!


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