Dawn C. Chmielewski

May 18, 2011 | 3:16 p.m.

‘Pirates’: No cannonballs fly this time — but is the story seaworthy?

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Walt Disney Studios)
There’s a moment in the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” film when a peg-legged privateer calls his crew to battle stations — an enemy ship has been spotted on the horizon — and the Disney franchise appears poised for another one of its signature sea battles. But the high-seas skirmish never happens and, in a bit of shocker, not one cannonball flies in all 137 minutes of this buccaneer blockbuster. “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” arrives in theaters Friday with an expensive star in Johnny Depp and a production budget somewhere north of $200 million just to make the film. Still, the project was a tighter ship when it came to visual effects and those open-ocean scenes that drive up costs on a movie. From a creative standpoint, the filmmakers say they were looking to refresh the franchise […]
Nov. 23, 2010 | 1:19 a.m.

‘Tangled’ may close the book on Disney princess films

Tangled
The end of an era at Disney? It sounds like it in this report by  Dawn C. Chmielewski and Claudia Eller. This is an excerpt from their front-page story in the Los Angeles Times. Once upon a time, there was a studio in Burbank that spun classic fairy tales into silver-screen gold. But now the curtain is falling on “princess movies,” which have been a part of Disney Animation’s heritage since the 1937 debut of its first feature film, “Snow White.” The studio’s Wednesday release of “Tangled,” a contemporary retelling of the Rapunzel story, will be the last fairy tale produced by Disney’s animation group for the foreseeable future. “Films and genres do run a course,” said Pixar Animation Studios chief Ed Catmull, who along with director John Lasseter oversees Disney Animation. “They may come back later because someone has a […]
March 10, 2010 | 9:28 p.m.

Disneyland history event will replace D23 Expo this year

As reported first here at the Hero Complex, the D23 Expo will not be staged again in Anaheim until next year, which Disney made official Wednesday by announcing the dates of Aug. 19-21, 2011, for the Disneyphile’s answer to Comic-Con International. Last year’s inaugural event, which got off to a slow start, nonetheless packed the halls of the Anahaim Convention Center for appearances by famous faces such as Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Miley Cyrus, Robert Zemeckis and John Travolta. Disney also announced that D23 Expo will move forward as a biennial affair and rotate years with a new history-minded event called Destination D, which will make its premiere Sept. 24 and 25 with a year-specific theme of “Disneyland ’55,” a nod to the 55th anniversary of the Anaheim theme park’s opening in July 1955 (pictured above in a photo from the Los Angeles Times archives). The Destination D gathering […]
March 10, 2010 | 3:36 a.m.

Disney wrings the pink out of ‘Rapunzel’

Here’s a longer version of the “Rapunzel” story that ran on the cover of the Los Angeles Times business section today. Disney is wringing the pink out of its princess movies. After the less-than-fairy-tale results for its most recent animated release, “The Princess and the Frog,” executives at the Burbank studio believe they know why the acclaimed movie came up short at the box office. Brace yourself: Boys didn’t want to see a movie with “princess” in the title. This time, Disney is taking measures to ensure that doesn’t happen again. The studio renamed its next animated film from the girl-centric “Rapunzel” to the less gender-specific “Tangled.” The makeover of “Rapunzel” is more than cosmetic. Disney can ill afford a moniker that alienates half the potential audience, young boys, who are needed to make an expensive family film a success. […]
Feb. 16, 2010 | 9:24 p.m.

Toy Fair looks to Hollywood to stay in the game

Dawn C. Chmielewski is in New York covering Toy Fair, and here’s her report on Hollywood’s increasing sway over the toy aisles of American retail.  When Pixar Animation Studios guru John Lasseter was working on the original “Toy Story” movie, he approached the maker of Barbie to include the fashion doll in the film — and was rebuffed. What a difference 15 years, and $8 billion in global merchandise sales, make. As Disney’s Pixar prepares to release “Toy Story 3” this summer, virtually every major toy maker — including Barbie’s Mattel Inc. — has lined up to make dolls, action figures, construction sets, vehicles and board games based on the film. No fewer than 250 toys will begin appearing in stores before the movie’s June 18 release — three times as many as were made for “Toy Story 2.” And retailers […]
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