Disney’s Alan Horn on Star Wars: Episode IX, James Gunn, John Lasseter, and The Lion King

Kylo Ren Star Wars

Disney is making a lot of moves in entertainment with the merger of Fox and launching its own streaming service with Disney+. It has a lot of big movies coming out soon including Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: Episode IX, Aladdin and The Lion King. In a recent interview, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn has something to say about the big films and other controversies involving James Gunn and John Lasseter.

Horn discusses how Disney’s films are big, and if it doesn’t meet expectations, it can be considered a failure, i.e. Solo: A Star Wars Story. He knows that a lot of people are keeping an eye on Aladdin, but he has great things to say about it.

“It’s always a challenge because — and I say this with love and respect for media — the thing about these big movies is they get a lot of attention, whether positive or negative,” Horn tells The Hollywood Reporter. “So when they don’t work, like Solo, the media says it’s a failure. I think it was a pretty good movie. It didn’t resonate as much as we’d hoped it would, but the press writes it up in a more negative way than I would. These are very high-profile movies. If Aladdin, which I happen to think is a terrific film, doesn’t work somehow, that’s big news and much bigger news than if a movie somewhere else, like The Kid Who Would Be King [at Fox,] doesn’t work.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has split audiences and Solo’s box office numbers resulted in Lucasfilm putting the other standalone films in the backburner. Horn talks about how Star Wars: Episode IX is going to fix it.

“I just got back from the United Kingdom, which is not so united,” Horn laughs as he replies to a question whether the next film is going to bring Star Wars back on track. “I went to the set and was with J.J. [Abrams], Kathy and the cast. I watched a couple of scenes being shot and then we all had dinner. I have not seen a cut of it yet, but I watch dailies every weekend and send J.J. and Kathy a note every weekend. It’s a big deal, and it’s going to be terrific.”

The chairman says that audiences should bring a handkerchief for The Lion King film from director Jon Favreau.

“Bring a handkerchief,” he said. “It’s so emotional. But it’s a remake of an animated film, so there must be some percentage of the audience who will say, ‘Well, I saw the first picture.’ All I can say for sure is you cannot tell these animals aren’t real.”

There was controversy over Disney firing James Gunn from directing the third Guardians of the Galaxy film. He was asked if Disney would be watching the social media accounts of future directors.

“I would say no,” Horn replied. “I don’t think we do extensive background checks to see what a person has said. I feel sad for some of the people ensnared in all of this. And sometimes I feel like, ‘Wow, what they said is so outrageous that it must have occurred to them that it would have repercussions.’ It’s a very open world now, and this stuff is a matter of record. The admonition is: Be careful.”

John Lasseter was also in the news again when it was revealed that Emma Thompson quit her role in a Skydance Animation project. Lasseter joining as the head of the studio has caused people to feel uneasy. With him gone from Disney and Pixar, Horn feels both animation studios are in a great place with the new heads.

“I’m incredibly proud of the way our animation studios have handled the transition,” he said. “And that is due to the passionate, dedicated people who call these studios home and the leadership of Pete Docter and Jim Morris at Pixar and Jennifer Lee and Andrew Millstein at Disney Animation. We have a deep bench.”

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John 'Spartan' Nguyen
John 'Spartan' Nguyen 10157 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.