Variety is reporting some great, great news today. Disney is welcoming back animation director Henry Selick who previously directed the Disney films Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. According to Variety's online site, Selick has struck an exclusive long-term deal to make stop-motion features for Disney/Pixar.
Selick enjoyed both critical and box-office success with Coraline last year, and it appears he is very exited to be reunited with longtime friends and colleagues John Lasseter and Brad Bird. The article states that Selick, " . . . will set up shop in the Bay Area, where he plans to write and direct features based on both original ideas and literary properties," and that he, " . . . hopes to benefit from the Pixar brain trust and technology, but will continue to produce toons using his trademark stop-motion style."
After James and the Giant Peach performed below company expectations in 1996, Selick remembers Disney exec Dick Cook dismissing stop-motion and stating that it was no longer a viable medium. Similar short-sightedness on the part of Disney executives shut down the production of traditional animation at the studio a number of years later. I am by no means a troll when it comes to computer-generated animation but I have to say that I am truly elated by this development. At a time when CG animation is overpowering in its penetration of the marketplace, it is gratifying to see films such as Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox achieve both commercial and critical recognition, and it is equally gratifying to see Disney again embrace a style of animation that continues to have the power to enchant and entertain.