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Disney's Beauty and the Beast on IMAX
10/28/01 Update: After speaking with some who have had the opportunity to see Beauty and the Beast on IMAX early, I'm happy to report that some of the concerns expressed in the article below (which was written in early 2001) have been addressed and are no longer concerns. Unlike the Sorcerer's segment in IMAX Fantasia, there is reportedly no distortion with Beauty and the Beast and the images are very clear. A big congratulations to the team that has apparently done a nearl flawless transition to IMAX.
(by Joe Tracy) Once upon a time, in a not so faraway land, a young executive lived by Sleeping Beauty's castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the executive wanted some things to be bigger and better. So then, one night in March 2002, a customer, inspired by the castle, offered the executive a single ticket in exchange for shelter in an IMAX theater to witness a fable brought back to life
On January 1, 2002, Disney is releasing its animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, not to the big screen, but to the big, big, big screen - IMAX. What's unclear is why Disney chose this medium to release this timeless classic when it could have released it to a much larger audience on widescreen, a medium that surely would reach deeper pockets.
Disney is heavily invested in IMAX, which is likely the main factor in its decision. Beauty and the Beast will pack IMAX theaters in droves and possibly breathe additional life into a struggling venture. But Disney faces these problems in route:
Disney will have an extremely hard time overcoming all these obstacles. But even with these obstacles, there is one guarantee -- Beauty and the Beast will likely become the highest-grossing "IMAX film" ever.
Because IMAX follows a policy of allowing only educational films to be shown, Disney is crafting educational supplement material to support the film as "educational". Here's what a Disney press release says about the material:
"Taking advantage of the unique educational opportunities offered by Beauty and the Beast, the Studio is creating two complete resource guides -- one complete program for elementary school students, and another for middle school students -- to assist teachers looking for real-world examples of their everyday assignments. The guides will include lesson plans in Language Arts and Reading, Social Studies, Science and New Technology, Art, Music and Dance, and Foreign Language."
Disney's answer to the distortion issue is that it has spent over a year "enhancing the image and refining character faces, backgrounds, and special effects, in order to let the film shine brightly on the giant screen." This is also what Disney said about The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of Fantasia 2000, which received many complaints concerning the overall distortion.
"This was a very challenging story to tell," says Hahn. "In the original fairy tale, Beauty's father goes to the castle and picks a rose. The beast is enraged, throws him in a dungeon but agrees to let him go if he sends his daughter back in his place. She passively follows her father's instructions and the rest of the story is essentially about two people having dinner together every night with the beast repeatedly asking her to marry him."
Hahn felt that the story needed to be energized with more creative scenarios and "making our heroine move things forward by valiantly going to the castle on her won to fight for her father's release," he says.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Beauty and the Beast is that it breaks the mold of many animated films. There is no clear cut villain.
"In most of our
films, the hero has some outside obstacle that he's fighting against,
whether it's a witch or a dragon or a madman," says supervising animator
Glean Keane. "In this film, atlthough Gaston becomes a definite threat,
the beast's real foe is himself and the real struggle is an internal one
with his own nature. This made the character much more interesting to
This story and all content are ©copyright 2001 by Joe Tracy and may not be reused for any purpose without expressed written consent of the author. All rights reserved.