Drawn Out

The rise and fall (and rise and fall) of Disney animation

And it was with the unsurprising failure of the singing-cow movie (it was called Home on the Range, in case you'd already forgotten) that Eisner finally made good on his threat, shutting down Disney's animation unit in Florida, making massive cuts in the California division and hiring offshore animation firms to churn out quickie cartoon product as the need arose, said product including direct-to-DVD sequels to such Disney classics as Peter Panand Cinderella, despite Walt Disney stating for the record he thought sequels were a bad idea. This is what you call dancing on a man's grave.

But while hand-drawn animation is in trouble, CGI is doing great, as any kid with a FindingNemotoothbrush will tell you. By the time you read this, Robotswill almost certainly be the No. 1 movie in America. Eisner likes to say the hand-drawn stuff just can't compete with CGI, that it's become obsolete in the modern marketplace. (Of course, he's still happy to make piles of dough releasing classics such as Bambion DVD.) You have to wonder if Eisner has ever actually spoken to a modern kid; if so, he'd know how obsessed they are with anime, SpongebobSquarepantsand other 'toons animated the old-fashioned way. And while Pixar has enjoyed a string of hits, there have been some high-profile CGI bombs, including FinalFantasyand Disney's own Dinosaur.Does Eisner seriously believe it was CGI that made Monsters,Inc.a hit, and hand-drawn animation that made TheEmperor'sNewGroovesuck so much butt?

When Disney's nephew Roy E. Disney was ousted from the company, he started the website www.savedisney.com in a furious, quixotic effort to catalog Eisner's every personal and professional flaw and get Eisner fired. And after a series of costly failures, Eisner first announced he'd leave the company in 2006 but then, thankly, got out earlier this week. Reason for Disney-animation fans to rejoice? Not quite. Critics describe Mikey's hand-picked replacement, Robert Iger, as "Eisner-lite."

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