Well, this isn’t exactly going to be shocking news to anyone who followed the long, sad history of Disney and Pixar’s “Brave,” but it looks like Brenda Chapman, the film’s original director (she still wound up with a co-director credit even though she was removed from the film 18 months before the movie opened), has left Pixar for good. It seems LucasFilm Animation has hired her for an as-yet-unannounced project. Oooo mysterious!
According to a post on Pixar Portal (via /Film), she will serve as a consultant on this LucasFilm Animation project. Quite frankly they’re lucky to have her, as Chapman has had a creative hand in a number of genuine animated classics, among them “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Up.” In December she told Pixar Portal that she was still in Pixar’s employ and that she was developing projects for the studio, but anyone with a passing understanding of what was going on behind the scenes of “Brave” knew that the relationship between Chapman and the studio was too fractured to have ever really been repaired.
After her version of “Brave” proved too complicated, too dark, and too, er, snowy for Pixar, she was removed from the film and the studio’s vaulted Brain Trust collective, and replaced by storyboard artist Mark Andrews, who simplified things and (at the urging of the Scottish Tourism Board) made the Scottish setting lush and green. The resulting film left something to be desired.
While it remains to be seen what Chapman will actually be working on at LucasFilm Animation, we certainly hope it’s something new and at least somewhat original. To date, the studio’s only project has been the mystifyingly popular “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” animated series. And while there are certainly stories within the “Star Wars” universe that could benefit from Chapman’s sense of character and story, it would be nice if LucasFilm (now being run by Spielberg protégé Kathleen Kennedy) gave her a shot at something altogether new. Although, if the gig really is just as a “consultant,” she could try and put her stamp on some preexisting property and try for her own project later down the line.
Whatever the project ends up being, it’s at least exciting to see what Chapman comes up with (remember how brilliant Genndy Tartakovsky‘s original, miniature “Star Wars: Clone Wars” episodes were?). One day someone will get the story of what actually happened with “Brave,” and when they do, we can’t wait to hear it.