‘Tangled Ever After’: Disney lets its hair down

Jan. 15, 2012 | 6:00 a.m.
market still max pascal rings1 Tangled Ever After: Disney lets its hair down

Hero Complex Exclusive: Maximus and Pascal return as ring bearers at the wedding of Rapunzel and Eugene ("Flynn Rider") in the animated short "Tangled Ever After." (Disney Enterprises)

Once upon a time, straightforward tellings of classic fairy tales sprinkled with song seemed to be Disney’s formula for movie magic. But if the critical and box office success of the 2010 Rapunzel movie “Tangled” has anything to teach, a new approach to animated fairy tales may spell the studio’s happily ever after.

“Tangled” shook up the classic Disney princess formula, adding a male lead and a dash of humor to accompany the 70 feet of golden hair and sparkling tiara of the traditional tale. Most of the movie’s main characters are back in “Tangled Ever After,” a new animated short that opened in theaters this weekend, showing before the 3D re-release of “Beauty and the Beast.”

“We don’t want to do a sequel for the sake of sequels,” said Byron Howard, a Disney animator who along with Nathan Greno directed the 2010 film and the new short. “The story has to be worth telling.”

“The movie kind of buttons up, but the one thing we didn’t do in the movie was a wedding,” Greno added. “There’d be a beautiful wedding of Flynn and Rapunzel, just like the royal wedding. It would be this big, grand event. And Byron and I thought, ‘Well that’s not entertainment. Maybe little girls would like to watch that, but that’s about it.'”

So Greno and Howard turned the focus on some supporting characters from “Tangled” — Pascal, Rapunzel’s pet chameleon, and Maximus, a horse with the heart of a soldier and the tracking skills of a bloodhound. The two characters were based on silent movie stars Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Howard said, and provided the animators “an opportunity to do a lot of slapstick” that didn’t make it into the feature film.

“We figured out a way to give [the audience] exactly what they wanted, so there is a beautiful grand wedding in the short, but what happens pretty quickly, those two goofballs Maximus and Pascal lose the wedding rings,” Greno said. “It turned into this big, zany, cartoony, fun, action-packed short. Just like what we were trying to do with ‘Tangled.’ We wanted that to be a movie for everyone; kids, boys, girls, adults, everybody could watch that movie, could be entertained. We wanted the short to be the exact same thing.”

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Byron Howard and Nathan Greno co-directed the 2010 Disney animated feature "Tangled," and the new short "Tangled Ever After." (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a tactic that proved successful for Greno and Howard with “Tangled” in 2010; the film grossed nearly $600 million worldwide and received glowing reviews from critics. After “The Princess and the Frog” disappointed at the box office in 2009, Disney was careful not to include “Princess” in the Rapunzel film’s title and developed a roguish, Errol Flynn-type bandit to appeal to boys.

“That’s why we added Flynn Rider,” Greno said. “The story is very much about Flynn and Rapunzel. And Maximus and Pascal, the reason why they’re brought up so often is because they are universally loved by both males and females. … I think this is why it worked out in the box office.”

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Pascal, Rapunzel, Flynn and Maximus in a scene from "Tangled." (Disney Enterprises)

“Tangled” arrived at the same time Disney Animation was considering closing the book on princess movies. Pixar Animation Studios chief Ed Catmull told Hero Complex in 2010 that it was time to turn the page on fairy tales and try something fresh.

“Films and genres do run a course,” said Catmull, who along with director John Lasseter oversees Disney Animation. “They may come back later because someone has a fresh take on it … but we don’t have any other musicals or fairy tales lined up.”

But that was before “Tangled” became a hit and spawned the short sequel premiering this weekend. So does the success of “Tangled” send a message to Disney about the future of princess movies?

“We’re built on this rich tradition of these animated films,” Greno said. “This company’s been around for a long time, and that’s why all of us want to work here, because there’s all these great movies. But you can’t go back to these same wells. ‘Cinderella’ worked in the 1950s ’cause it worked for a 1950s audience. But there’s also this expectation of what Disney Animation is. So you can’t go too far away from it. There are other studios that make fun of these classic stories, and that’s fine too, but for us to do that, that doesn’t seem right either. So we’re in this interesting spot. How do you make a modern fairy tale? How do you take these classic stories and do something modern and different with them, but at the same time maintain what everyone loves at Disney?”

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Flynn and Rapunzel in a scene from "Tangled." (Disney Enterprises)

For Greno and Howard, the answer lies in finding a balance between history and originality.

“We wanted one foot firmly planted in our history, in what made Disney great, but at the same time do something fresh and unexpected that audiences won’t see coming. I think that’s what we need to do moving forward with Disney Animation — somehow deliver on what people expect and what they love, but we have to challenge the audience and give something new and something original. I think that’s why ‘Tangled’ hit, and the studio is open-minded to more princess movies, because if you do it right, the audience will be there for you.”

— Noelene Clark


47 Responses to ‘Tangled Ever After’: Disney lets its hair down

  1. Terri spoonemore says:

    Can’t wait to see tangled 2.even at 52 Walt Disney movies are the best!

  2. LordMock says:

    The failure of “The Frog Princess” had nothing to do with it being a “traditional” Disney movie and more about the fact they took a traditional fairytale and instead of expanding on the story to give it scope and entertainment quality, they completely rewrote the story to make it to make it socially relevant, and a platform for political correctness. I love the line where they say they intentionally left princess out of the title of “Tangled”, because how many Disney movies have “Princess” in the title? Only one. Sorry “The Frog Princess” was nothing but an attempt to force a specific type of Disney princess into the Parthenon of Princesses. Tangled was successful because they held to the traditional formula to make a good entertaining move based on a traditional fairytale and not rub our faces in forced social diversity.

  3. Bryan Smith says:

    I think you are on the right track…

  4. Gloria says:

    Right on! am 60+ and I loved it!! I grew up on Disney. WHY because the MESSAGE of hope and inspiration WORKS for ALLLL generations. We all need it – the world is spinning out of control. Good and evil are all around in the news everyday…its SO wonderful to have a mental break and see something "beautiful" and inspiring. I'll be in line. Love that Maximus!! WHAT a HOOT!!!!

  5. Marc says:

    So is that 44 second clip the entire short? Or what? More info on the film and its release would be welcome…

  6. red1434 says:

    insteresting but disney down in orlando and in california took out what the fans want to see flynn ryder with out that character their is no tangled go to wdwmagic.com entire thread about it.

  7. amber and ivana says:

    The first movie was awesome! The second one. Tangled Forever After should not be 8 minutes long, it should be a full movie! MAKE A FULL MOVIE OF TANGLED FOREVER AFTER!!

  8. Molly says:

    I absolutely in love with Tangled!!!! I, not so secretly, wish to marry Flynn one day :) I got the privilege of working in Walt Disney World for 6 months and wouldn't trade a second of it! Can't wait to see the short story.

  9. Ramon says:

    How about a sequel that brings together characters from different fairy tales, like the Shrek movies? Let's say that Rapunzel and Eugene have a son/daughter who meets Ariel and Eric's Melody and together, they go on some adventure? Just an example, but it would definitely be something different for Disney and would satisfy a lot of Tangled fans.

  10. Mara says:

    When the film comes out in Germany?

  11. DeNease says:

    the reason Princess and the Frog did not do well is the same reason Tyler Perry had to start making movies so African Americans could work in this business. I loved Tangled and i think that Princess and the Frog was also a good movie and it is great that Disney tried to open the door for diversity but let's face it, race will always be an issue, even in 2012.

  12. jasemine says:

    whats the point of tangled ever after why don't they buy new rings

  13. D'Anne says:

    It wasn't race or diversity that killed Princess and the Frog for my family….the movie didn't just have bad guys….it had demonic evil. The spirit world and black magic made it off limits for my kids as I'm sure it did for many others. Too over the top for us!

  14. DYMIN says:


  15. sonia says:

    I watch Tangled nearly everyday with my 3 year old daughter,i never get bored of watching it.!its a fantastic film.Im just hoping they make a second one!!love it!!

  16. mike says:

    Princess and the frog didn't do so well as it was sooooo dark with the voo doo and the evil spirits. I doubt most people gave a rat about teanna being black at all

  17. Lori says:

    Please, please, please make- 2nd tangled movie!!! My children, boys and girl ask all the time!!!! Mommy and grandma too.

  18. hoovcrew says:


    Wrong. To say that people didn't like P&TF because of race is descrimination in and of itself. In fact, one of our favorite characters at Disneyland is Tiana – she is so friendly and fun to be around. When I look at her I don't see "BLACK", I see a Disney Princess. However, I agree with someone that Disney tried to ram social consciousness down our throats and therefore the plot felt forced. Unfortunately, our history does not provide alot of fairy tales that involve black women, but I would think if Disney did some research they could find some awesome African folk tales, just like they did with Mulan, that would make amazing films.

    Saying that people didn't like the film due to the heroine's skin color is ignorance at it's worst.

  19. scotti says:

    Tangled Ever After short clip made us laugh SO hard! We really were bummed when we found out it's Not a full movie!! It would be such a hit! Come out with that clip in a sequel! !!!!

  20. becks n ems says:

    me and my little girl veiwed tangled ever after last night, we both loved it please make another full length movie, tangled is so funny and well animated its a shame not to.

  21. Tangled says:

    TANGLED IS AMAZING I PLAN TO WATCH IT TONS OF TIMES BECAUSE I JUST CANT GET ENOUGH OF THIS FAVORITE ANIMATED MOVIE OF MINE. I think I and so many others would be so joyful if another full movie were to be made :) Really, I just loved the first so much with its humour, beauty, and tragedy combination! I really wish there could be a full movie sequal, seeing as the 8:00 disney short already came out. Or they could do a 'little mermaid' style second film where the child or children of Rapunzel and Eugene (Flynn) could be the main character with its own story (as Ariel's daughter was in the second film of The Little Mermaid)! Anyways, I wanted to give my thoughts because influincing is worth a try, right? I'm in the 13-20 age group and I AM LOVING THIS MOVIE :D

  22. xxx350 says:

    princess and the frog didn't do as well, because simply is not as good as Tangled. The story in Tangled is much more fun, characters are much more fun, their expressions, everything… Also in Tangled you have magic, while in Princess and the Frog you have vodoos and evil spirits. The scenery is also much better in tangled, I love those 3D graphics, the songs are extremely good, and then Rapuntzel, she is so cute, I love her.

    And I'm 27 years old hahah but I just love Disney movies, and the inspiring messages they leave. That's because I never stopped dreaming, and I'm going for more achievements in my life!

  23. Max says:

    "The Princess & the Frog – "Disney's Newest Princess Lily" Featurette" at sec 15 this youtube vid reminds me the MIA Paper Planes song . I'm zorry about my bad english. Maybe we are just wanting to anyway watch the disney movies that haven't been released on any elite media.as a classic.. I've been driven nuts to get a movie that haven't been released yet. Thank you all. I'm out.

  24. lin says:

    i didn't enjoy the princess and the frog. the prince was annoying and the humor lacking. the only song that was any good was "almost there."

    meanwhile rapunzel and eugene's relationship developed realistically and the humor was spot on. and most of the songs were pretty good. especially mother knows best!

    i saw both in the theaters the first day they came out… but i went on to see tangled two more times, because it was a QUALITY film.

    (favorite disney films are… tangled, beauty and the beast, the little mermaid, mulan, sleeping beauty, hercules, and pocahontas)

  25. I fins that on my blog, most of the people that leave comments

    don’t say anything useful. I find myself dealing with quite a bit of spam. Yes I get more quality comments but it takes more work to moderate them.

  26. Carol Thomas says:

    Why doesn't Disney channel show the proper ending in Tangled (the wedding)?

  27. jade says:

    that stupid of all you saying that princess and the frog was bad because it had black magic, I was 9 or 11 when it came out and I loved it. It funny because in the little mermaid the evil witch did black magic to. Also in tangled the witch came close to killing the lead man when she stabbed him. And they showed that scenes, in princess and the frog at least we don't see the flyer flies die.

  28. richard schumacher says:

    Rapunzel's eyes are too big.

  29. shubhajit says:

    I love Tangled so much!

  30. nighat niazi says:

    amazing and mind blowing

  31. jamesb says:

    Disney need to make tangled forever after an actual movie.. It would be immense.. Everyone loved the first one, and they will the 2nd if they made it a full film im sure

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