Why Disney's Don Quixote Did Not Get the Greenlight
Back in August 2000, Jim Hill announced that Disney's animated version of Don Quixote was DOA. "Again. For almost 60 years now, Walt Disney Studios has been trying to turn Cervantes' satiric stories about the Knight of the Rueful Countenance into an animated feature. Different teams of artists--in 1940, 1946 and 1951 respectively--have taken stabs at the material, only to be tripped up by the episodic nature of Don Quixote's tale. But this time around, it looked like the Mouse might actually pull it off. For Disney had assigned Paul and Gaetan Brizzi--best known as the resident geniuses at Disney Feature Animation France--to tackle the project. Paul and Gaetan labored mightily for months on Don Quixote, turning out elaborate and immense storyboards for the proposed film. We're talking huge pieces of conceptual art here, folks. Three feet by four feet, done all in pencil. Images that took the breath away of even the most jaded of animators. But all this artistry was for naught. Management at Disney Feature Animation took a look at all the conceptual material the Brizzis had assembled earlier this year. Even though Paul and Gaetan's storyboards were beautiful, the brass still took a pass on the proposed film. Why for? A number of reasons, really. Cervantes' stories--in spite of their fanciful images of windmills turning into giants and humble country inns becoming castles--don't really lend themselves to animation. Don Quixote's adventures tend to start and stop a lot. So it's hard to turn a series of amusing anecdotes into a coherent dramatic narrative. Plus the Brizzis take on the material? Intense. Dark. Very adult. Their version of the story actually frightened some of the suits in the Team Disney building. So Tom Schneider thanked Paul and Gaetan profusely for their efforts, then quietly pulled the plug on the project. So all those great inspirational drawings by the Brizzis came down off the cork board, got carefully packed away, then sent off to the morgue... excuse me, "Animation Research Library" (ARL)... and got tucked away in a drawer someplace. But that's okay, folks. Because sometimes when they're feeling creatively blocked, Disney animators will go down to the ARL and start burrowing through the files. What are they looking for? Images that startle. Drawings that inspire. Pictures that make you say 'God, what a great idea! I wish I'd thought of that.' Years from now, animators at the Mouseworks will be saying that very same thing when they come across Paul and Gaetan's Don Quixote artwork."
As of June 2001- Have been told that this film is still in production.
As of April 2001, it has been rumored that due to the
salary cuts by Disney that the Brizzi Brothers have resigned.
Since they were the ones working on the film the current state
of this film is unknown.
In Anime Magazine (a french animation
magazine) there is a interview of Paul and GaŽtan Brizzi
(the interview was done in Late November 2000) and they
said that they were working on the film and that the
project would surely be greenlighted soon
Don Quixote was being developed by the Brizzi
Brothers (who directed the Firebird sequence in
Fantasia/2000 and who are also responsible for
the opening sequences in The Hunchback of Notre
Dame and Tarzan) but unfortunately it didn't
get the greenlight. The Disney execs thought
that the Brizzis' take on Cervantes' story was
much too dark; apparently it even scared some
of the people who work at Disney. So the execs
just thanked them for their work.
Don Quixote was once in production a couple
times before and once again is back in production.
From the latest drawings done by the Brizzi
Brothers, so far they are a dark, spooky tone
to them. They show a gangly but obviously
youthful Don Quixote, his burly and dim sidekick
Sancho Panza, and some other younger looking
dude who completes a trio of adventurers. There
seems to be enough artwork for about 4 movies.
I hear that the Brizzi Brothers work faster
and more intensely than anyone else in story.
Somehow they pack enough information in those
regular sized little story sketches to show what
the whole movie could look like if not given the
normal Disney Animation treatment.
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