“Tangled” to be Disney’s Last Fairy Tale?

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When I was in Los Angeles a few months ago, publicity for Disney’s Tangled was everywhere. The oversized posters plastered against sides of buildings consisted of nothing but swirling, blond hair with two faces peeking out.  I thought it was some sequel to Shrek that I didn’t care about. I was just as annoyed with the lack of information on the poster, as I was with the overwhelming amount of hair that didn’t seem to be attached to anyone’s head. It turns out I wasn’t supposed to recognize the film for what it was- another Disney princess movie. Not only is the film in 3D, the first for a Disney fairy tale, there was a calculated decision to change the title of the film from Rapunzel to Tangled. Why not just call the film, Rapunzel, so that all the hair makes sense? According to an article in the Los Angeles Times,  the “little girl market” isn’t big enough to justify “princess movies” anymore. This brings us to why, with the release of the film on Monday, Disney announced that they wouldn’t really be making anymore fairy tale films.

Tangled, which was released yesterday, will be the last of its genre for who-knows-how-long. “They may come back later because someone has a fresh take on it…but we don’t have any other musicals or fairy tales lined up,” Ed Catmull from Disney Animation told the L.A. Times.

Some of us sighed with relief when The Princess and the Frog came out last year, because it was already starting to feel like Disney had given up on the genre. The last film, with an actual princess for a protagonist was Aladdin (as a chief’s daughter, Pocahontos which came out the following year could count). But while critics liked The Princess and the Frog, it didn’t do well enough on the money front.  It seems little girls these days lose interest at an earlier age in growing up to be Cinderella, and become more interested in being Mandy Moore.

There are certainly enough classic Disney fairy tales on DVD to make sure future little girls grown up with a healthy dose of “princess,” but there’s something sad about leaving fairy tales behind. Fairy tales, no matter how the story is changed and often distorted on screen, are part of something larger, something a grandmother can watch with her grandchildren, and understand.

But Disney is doing what it can to appeal to both girls and boys (blech, hopefully they won’t have to sit next to each other at the movie theater) in an attempt to reach out to a wider market. While you reflect on what this all means, I’ll leave you with a clip from the best princess movie Disney made:

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