What Disney could learn from Nimona’s success

Everyone loves a comeback story. not so long ago, it looked like an animated movie based on ND Stevenson’s graphic novel Nimona Will be the unfortunate victim of corporate consolidation, a footnote in the tale of one major Hollywood studio swallowing up another. Originally in development at Blue Sky Studios, almost done Nimona he was later presumed near death disney closed blue sky After acquiring the animation studio as part of its purchase of 20th Century Fox.

luckily, that wasn’t the end of it Nimona, is a fresh start for a rather ambitious, innovative project. Indie distributor Annapurna Pictures stepped in to revive the film, with British animation house DNEG handling its completion. After a warm reception at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on June 14, Nimona It finally got a chance to reach a wider audience when it premiered on Netflix on June 30.

Set in a world that creatively blends medieval and futuristic aesthetics, Nimona Ballister tells the story of Boldheart (Riz Ahmed), a former knight in training who becomes the villain of the kingdom after being framed for murder. His bad reputation attracts the attention of a prankster named Nimona (Chloe Grace Moretz), who aspires to be his assistant. Together they try to solve the mystery of who set him up, but in the process they uncover even deeper and more dangerous secrets. The film reinforces the graphic novel’s themes of acceptance and inclusion, particularly the representation of queer identities in the main characters. When we first met Ballister, She is in a relationship with a fellow knight and Nimona is gender fluid. She (or he or she, all pronouns apply) spends most of the film in the guise of a girl, but is uncomfortable staying in one particular guise for long periods of time.

Nimona | Official Trailer | Netflix

Since its release on Netflix, Nimona It has been embraced by critics, animation fans, and especially the LGBTQA+ community. It currently holds a 93 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and audiences. The graphic novel sold out on Amazon over the weekend after the movie arrived on Netflix, and it’s starting much earlier oscar echoes, There have been lively discussions about the film on social media, and several articles detailing what went wrong when Disney canceled the project. Because the only thing people love more than a comeback story One of the qualifications.

But instead of bashing Disney for its obvious blind points (which might be a good thing), we thought we’d get creative instead. There are valuable lessons the studio can learn from NimonaThe winding journey from page to screen, which also involves better connecting with audiences, is something studios have struggled with lately. Pixar’s most recent movie, primaryLowest opening weekend box office numbers in Pixar history and a string of underperforming titles continues strange world And light years, If This Keeps Up, 2023 Is On Track To Be Disney’s First Year Of Disney without taking $1 billion hit Since 2014. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Perhaps with a change in direction, Disney can write its own comeback story; It won’t be the first time.

get rid of the old

nimona It has been praised for its bold and innovative visual style – unlike any other animated film currently in existence. Viewers clearly want originality; See enthusiastic reactions to About Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Compared to the dismal box office performance of the usual CG fare primary And Ruby Gilman, Teenage Kraken, What seemed fresh and new a decade ago has become old and commonplace.

In its current corporate incarnation, Disney was hesitant to challenge the public with anything that might deviate from its established brand. This may make good business sense given the rising budgets of animated films these days, but it’s a creative impasse. no matter what movie you like strange world In trying to do something different, the studio can’t figure out how to bring it to the masses. Nothing in the advertising campaign for that film indicated just how strange and fanciful the images actually were. Would it have made any difference at the box office? Who knows. But we do know that Disney’s generic approach didn’t work.

There is much more that can be done in animation than what we see in the big studios. Why limit your creative team to the same old formulaic approach? Trust moviegoers enough to show them something unexpected, like a castle in the middle of a busy urban city center, or knights in armor on floating motor scooters, or a prison break on the back of a giant pink rhinoceros (yes, nimona all that exists).

new characters for new generation

Character design is so important that we had to break it out into a separate discussion. characters in nimona are unique and dynamic. They will not fit into any world other than their own. Their faces are expressive, varied and not always beautiful. This is surprising to us as a viewer because this is not something Disney would ever allow. They don’t fit the template.

Artists use a term when they fall into the habit of drawing the same features on their characters over and over again: the same face. syndrome. The term has been applied to Disney’s modern digital characters. You can take a character from one movie and put them in another and they won’t look that different (they actually did this with the Rapunzel cameo) frozen, Disney’s female characters typically have large, bright eyes, delicate noses, and narrow lips (a few exceptions being predominantly non-white supporting characters), while males have upturned or pointed noses, large eyes, or beady eyes. There are eyes and hardly anything in between. … At least the boys get more variety in their body types. with the notable exception of encantoLuisa (who became a breakout character despite Disney executives’ response), most of Disney’s female and girl characters are similar in size, on the slimmer side, with smaller waists and softer curves.

Nimona, in her girl form, isn’t built like a Disney princess, that’s for sure. She is short, stout-bodied and athletic. Unlike your typical Disney slang, He is allowed to make ugly, even terrifying faces. It doesn’t affect the character. In fact, it makes him more interesting.

it’s okay to make it gay

The closure of Blue Sky Studios was a major reason for the delay. nimona, but it certainly wasn’t the only one. Of course, the pandemic slowed things down, and then came the notes from Disney executives overseeing the film. According to a report published by insiderProduction sources said that their Disney bosses expressed concern about the gay themes and gay kiss between Ballister and her boyfriend, Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Li Yang). ,Nimona Other issues were encountered during the development process, notably delays,” the article said. “But it was still a project that Blue Sky staffers were excited about and thought it could be a step forward for the studio. Now it is unlikely that he will see the light of day.” And yet, a little over a year later, here we are.

That was in the spring of 2021, a year before the company imploded in response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. In an effort to minimize the damage, then-CEO Bob Chapek issued a statement in March 2022 that ended: “I believe the best way to drive lasting change for our company is through the inspiring content we produce, The welcoming culture we’ve created is another. The diverse community organizations we support.” This came as news to the creators who worked on it Nimona While this was with Blue Sky and experiencing direct pressure to tone down the lewd content in their film.

Disney doesn’t have a great reputation for on-screen LGBTQA+ content, and its efforts to fix that have so far been seen as half-hearted by the community. release a movie like Nimona In its current cheeky form, without pressure or interference, much can be done to change that perception and win back some of the trust the studio has lost.

don’t be afraid to take risks

All this advice is based on one simple lesson: Take more risks. Walt Disney himself did not succeed by playing it safe. The company he startedsuitcase and a dreamIt has become a huge media empire, but it seems to have lost some of its original spirit of experimentation and adventure.

The cost of making movies continues to rise, so it makes sense that Disney and all the other major studios are becoming risk-averse. The rationale is that sticking to a tried-and-true formula pays off because audiences know what they’re getting before they even walk into the theater. Obviously, this is why so many studios continue to exploit their famous intellectual property. But that IP-heavy approach can only be sustained for so long before it starts to backfire and the opposite becomes true. Viewers will walk away with something they feel like they’ve seen too many times before.

This may be news to bean counters, but there are other ways to measure success besides raw numbers. The tendency to simplify everything to “the line goes up” and “the line goes down” doesn’t leave much room for nuance. In business terms: a headline can add value to a brand. This can improve consumer confidence. A film that appeals to a niche audience may prove to be a loss-making deal or investment in the future. Nimona That’s all the stuff it does for Annapurna, which created an entire animation division after the film was shot, but it could have done it for Disney instead. We sincerely hope the Mouse Mansion is paying attention.


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