Next March, Disney are releasing Meet The Robinsons, the second CG film they have produced in-house, after Chicken Little.
The film was originally scheduled for release later this year, but when John Lasseter was appointed head of Walt Disney Feature Animation after the Pixar purchase shuffle, he took one look at the film and had its opening date pushed back. It seemed that a lot of work would be necessary to make the film all that it could be.
One of the most dramatic alterations he apparently requested was the complete and total removal of one main character, known as The Bowler Hat Guy. News of this drastic overhaul was soon spreading rapidly across the web, and closer to home, it seemed plenty of animators at the Mouse House were feeling the pressure, that suddenly, these Pixar guys didn't look so much like their saviours (which in reality, they truthfully are) as much as domineering overlords (which is a ludicrous, defensive kneejerk reaction).
Yesterday, Disney unveiled their first trailer for Meet the Robinsons, in cinemas with The Wild and on the Starz cable channel. It can now be seen online.
And the big news is - The Bowler Hat Guy is in it. And prominently in it.
Either this trailer will have little to do with the finished film, or Lasseter changed his mind, or isn't insisting on his notes being taken strictly as orders on a project he came to so late in development - or, possibly, the stories just weren't true in the first place. The film was certainly pushed back, and reports of the second act being gutted and replaced are still surfacing regularly - so something is up, I'm sure.
I expect the truth is that a clever solution has been found - the kind of smart retrofitting I was talking about yesterday. A brilliant way to keep the character in, and allow his better scenes and functions to prevail, while also sorting out all of the problems he was causing. If anybody can make a fix like that, its the story teams at Pixar.
Hopefully, just under a year from now, Dinsey will be releasing a modern animated film without the Pixar branding that can compete, for once, with the films that do begin with the little hopping lamp. It won't have been without the help of Lasseter and his teams, but there's no use in being proud. That film, not the filmmakers, should always come first.