November 27, 2002
Treasure Planet is the latest animated project from the legendary artists at Disney. Eighteen months after the disappointing performance of the science fiction tale of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Walt's crew will again tackle sci-fi with this movie. The idea is to take the classic tale of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and turn it into an outer space adventure with space pirates replacing sea pirates.
Using the team of Ron Clements and John Musker, the legendary co-directors who gave us the adorable Hercules and the blockbusters Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, Treasure Planet will attempt to sidestep the landmines which blew up on other recent animated sci-fi films. In the past three years, there have been several headline-grabbing missteps in this genre as the chart below demonstrates.
Titan A.E.'s and Final Fantasy's box-office failures were so dramatic that their entire animation studios were shut down. Atlantis was the least successful major Disney animated release since 1990, and that's before we account for ticket inflation.
Clearly, it's difficult to make such a mature genre appear desirable to young people, and it's equally difficult to get adults and teens to watch a cartoon in theaters. Disney faces a hard sell here, but what they have going for them is that, unlike any of three films mentioned above, Treasure Planet is based upon a classic story. This has always been the meat of Disney's success; modernizing timeless tales. By attempting to move the idea of pirates, something we know kids love, into the realm of outer space, the House that Walt Built is crossing into the realm of sci-fi in a manner never before attempted in this type of film, so they have an ace in the hole. Unique is always good. The key from here is the execution.
Here's what we know about the movie adaptation so far. The story begins with a battle sequence which sees the Treasure Cruiser being overtaken by pirates led by the evil Jean Lafitte, AKA The Corsair. After he has finished looting the ship, our hero, Jim Hawkins, discovers a map to the lost treasure of John Flint which is buried in a spot across the galaxy. A race unfolds between the good guys and the evil pirates on the ship of Long John Silver. Sound familiar?
Disney has obviously decided to play this very close to the vest with regards to the actual story in order to avoid the recent pitfalls of doing sci-fi animation. The only difference in the story all kids know and love will be that instead of seeing 19th-century settings and technology, we'll be seeing settings from a point at an undetermined time in the future, when mankind crosses the galaxy as easily as we once crossed the ocean. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Vital statistics for Treasure Planet
Austin Majors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Hyde Pierce
Brian Murray, Johnny Rzeznik, Martin Short, Emma Thompson
Ron Clements, John Musker
Barry Johnson, Kaan Kalyon, Mark Kennedy, Sam Levine, Donnie Long, Frank Nissen
||Walt Disney Pictures
||Click Here for Trailer
||Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture
Comparison films for Treasure Planet
|Lion King, The
|Hunchback of Notre Dame
|Little Mermaid, The (reissue)
|Emperor's New Groove, The
|Beauty and the Beast
|Little Mermaid, The
|Rescuers Down Under, The