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The New Disney: What The Merger with Fox Means for the Studio

March 20, 2019 wasn’t just the first day of spring–it was also the day Disney officially bought a majority of 20th Century Fox, including a good deal of their film and television properties. Perhaps the biggest merger in Hollywood history–Disney bought Fox for over $71 billion dollars, there will be repercussions in the entertainment industry for years, if not decades, to come. While some of these will become more apparent in time, other changes have been obvious since the moment the deal was even being talked about.

So what does the merger with Fox mean for the new Disney? Here’s just a few likely scenarios:

A host of new franchises for Disney’s theme parks

Many would argue that Disney already has plenty of iconic intellectual properties ripe for the picking when it comes to creating new attractions. For example, with just Pixar alone there are many sentimental favorites that fans would love to see more representation of at Disney’s iconic theme parks, including: Up, Wall-E, Inside Out, and Brave.

But now that Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox, the House of Mouse has an even bigger pool of popular characters and worlds to use. Boasting around a dozen theme parks across the globe, Disney can now include mascots from The Simpsons or Ice Age, and people would love it.

Disney

Disney will have two giant streaming services

In 2017, Disney announced Disney+, a streaming service set to compete against Hulu and Netflix. As more and more details come out, Disney+ is looking mighty tempting for Disney aficionados when it lands later this year, including animated classics as well as original series from Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The vast library of Fox properties will give Disney+ even more intellectual property to draw from for their original content.

Additionally, Disney now essentially owns 60 percent of Hulu, which Disney+ originally intended to compete with. Rather than merge the two, Disney plans to keep both, allowing Disney+ to remain a more family-oriented platform while Hulu can be used to stream more mature content, such as the films from the Alien franchise, or television series from the FX network.

Small-budget vs. big-budget

There’s a lot of excitement for comics fans now that previously Fox-owned Marvel characters like the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Deadpool can finally appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But 21st Century Fox also offers Disney more intimate, smaller-budgeted affairs. Fox was the studio behind films like Slumdog Millionaire, Birdman, and 12 Years A Slave–types of films Disney has shied away from as it became more focused on tentpole franchises. While these budgets can still be a lot larger than smaller, independent films, the releases through Fox and its Fox Searchlight label pale in comparison to the megabudgets of Disney’s summer blockbusters, ranging anywhere from a few million to $50 million.

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While Disney has already been paring down its Fox resources as it combines the two massive studios into one, plans have already been announced to release four theatrical films annually through Fox and four on streaming services. While this isn’t as many smaller films an art house aficionado would prefer, it’s perhaps more than Disney would normally put out in a given year. Perhaps one of these films will finally give Disney something the studio has never had–a Best Picture win at the Academy Awards.

The new MCU

With Avengers: Endgame likely saying goodbye to some of the stars that made the MCU and characters like Iron Man and Captain America household names, many have been wondering what Phase 4 (and 5 and 6 and 7) will look like for the epic franchise-spanning film series. While sequels to Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy were a given, it’s likely that the MCU will gradually start populating with characters previously-owned by Fox.

Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, is a genius inventor who lives in a big tower in New York City–and would easily fit the whole Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark will be leaving. Similar, his archnemesis Doctor Doom could be a great follow-up villain to Thanos. While Marvel head Kevin Feige says the X-Men will probably take longer to show up in the MCU, he also didn’t rule it out, so don’t be surprised if in a few years Spider-Man and Ant-Man are fighting alongside Wolverine and Nightcrawler.

Disney Deadpool Marvel

Inspiring Advice from 3 Top Animation Studios

No matter whether you’re about to start your program at The New York Film Academy’s 3D Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) School or are already deep into your journey into the magical wizarding world of professional animation and effects, we are sure that the hard work and long hours you put into your work are motivated by a lot of passion and a lot of creativity.

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Because you work so hard at what you love, we rounded up some inspiring advice to give you a boost. So regardless of where you are on your path as an animator or effects artist — whether you’re gearing up for class, tackling a tricky challenge on a project, or hunting down your next professional animation job — we thought you could use some extra insight and inspiration from animators who work for Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, and Dreamworks.

Here are 8 great tips to inspire your animation and effects work:

1. Research

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Just like actors who do research for their role, animators should do research too. Even if you’re just jumping into a shot, take the time to draw or do video research. Make sure that it becomes a habit.

2. Animation Motion

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Chances are that at some point in your career, you’ll have to animate something that you aren’t familiar with creating. If you need to, break the animation down into simple components to help you.

According to Andrew Gordon and Robb Denovan, directing animators for Pixar’s  “Monsters University,” the team had to color-code Terry-Terri’s tentacles to help during the process.

3. Drawing It Out

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Aaron Blaise, an animator for Walt Disney Animation Studios, tweeted, “Try forcing yourself to draw by just laying single lines down. No searching lines. This will force you to think about every line.”

4. Mastering Technology

According to Scott Wright, an animator for Dreamworks, always look to enhance your skill set. He wrote on Twitter, “Technology changes fast. Don’t rely on mastering one program. You never know how the next software package will enhance your imagination.”

Don’t be afraid to use the different types of tools that you have. Computers and software can do CGI well. Put your efforts into the performance and let the computers help you fine-tune everything.

 

5. Polishing Your Work

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If you prioritize correctly, you will know what aspects of your project may need more polishing. Animation requires a great deal of time and effort to bring an idea to life, and you will need to spend a lot of time to achieve a level of work that is polished and ready to share.

6. Show Your Work

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It’s better to show your creation early on versus keeping it under wraps: you can gather valuable feedback, see your work from a new perspective, and find new opportunities to collaborate or flesh out an underdeveloped part of your idea. Creating solid animation is teamwork and that means being open to critiques.

7. Seek Out Advice

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There will be times when you feel stuck while working on an animation project, and there may be a time when someone else’s work fits better in a scene. If that is the case, go find the person who created the work and talk to them. Some animators will open up and go over scenes to show another animator how they made a scene work. Again, collaboration and critique are vital tools to help you grow and improve your work, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice from your colleagues and peers whose work you admire.

8. Live Your Life

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Animation is similar to acting in that it requires emotional understanding, a passion for storytelling, and an awareness of life experiences to develop believable characters.

Your creativity and discipline at work will draw from how you live your life, so take the time to travel or go see a show, watch people, and write about memorable experiences. Your own life can serve as a valuable resource and support for you as you develop animated scenes, whether you excel at creating funny scenes or subtle and dramatic scenes.

Either way, it’s important to learn to draw from real life, as that can give you immense insight into understanding what makes a scene entertaining for the audience. After all, your audience is full of people living their lives, too.

Do you have any inspiring advice for our animation students? Let us know below!

Pixar’s Rules For Great Storytelling

Emma Coats, a former story artist at Pixar Animation Studios, tweeted a series of “story basics” a while back which not only illustrates the kind of talent that Pixar employs, but serves as a fantastic guide for aspiring screenwriters to learn some very basic and essential tenants of storytelling.

Pixar’s overwhelming success is easily demonstrated by the numbers: seven of the 14 Pixar films have been nominated for Best Screenplay at the Oscars, and the company won the Animated Feature Academy Award seven times. They have 14 consecutive box-office toppers and two Best Picture nominations.

If that’s not proof of their genius, then we don’t know what is.

Steve Jobs purchased the studio in 1986 for $10 million. It was originally a hardware company with only one animator on its staff. Now it’s widely reputed to be one of the best film studios on the planet. Here’s a quote on Deadline from the producer of the Pixar hit Brave, which debuted at number 1 at the Box Office upon release, going on to gross over $500 million internationally. They attribute their phenomenal success to the basic wisdom that story trumps all.

It was not easy. The biggest challenges at Pixar are always the stories. We want really original stories that come from the hearts and minds of our filmmakers. We take years in crafting the story and improving it and changing it; throwing things out that aren’t working and adding things that do work. All of that is just the jumping off point for the technology and how we are going to make this happen.

Without further ado, here are 22 pointers from a former Pixar story artist for creating a compelling story and building a mega-successful franchise. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to learn more about our animation and screenwriting curriculum.

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.