What Disney's Strange World Stole From Big Hero 6 To Create Its Characters [Exclusive]

There's something romantic about the idea of new stories springing from the minds of creative talent, fully-formed and containing nothing but original storytelling ready to blow the minds of unsuspecting audiences. Historically speaking, Walt Disney Animation Studios has projected the very image of consistency and success, going so far as to turn various animated classics — most (if not all) of which are based on much older fables — into the definitive stories in the minds of the general public. But the reality oftentimes is a much different story.

This is precisely what makes "Strange World" so intriguing: filtering various influences through a unique vision and making something new in the process. As director Don Hall has previously admitted, the upcoming film was chiefly inspired by old-fashioned pulp magazines and has resulted in a distinctive production that, as we heard about during this year's D23 Expo, fully embraces its pulpy roots.

In a recent press day interview by /Film's Vanessa Armstrong for the film, Heads of Animation Amy Smeed and Justin Sklar opened up about how a previous Walt Disney Animation film, "Big Hero 6," played a role in the development of "Strange World."

Differentiating details

You'll often hear creatives talk about how filmmaking is an iterative process, constantly building off the foundations of what came before. The team behind "Strange World" took that to new heights, borrowing from the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite 2014 film "Big Hero 6" in order to bring their characters to life. Starring the voice acting talent of Jake Gyllenhaal as main character Searcher, Jaboukie Young-White as Ethan, and Dennis Quaid as Jaegar, the story of "Strange World" grounds such otherworldly concepts in the complex relationships between its protagonists.

According to Amy Smeed, the process began with animating their mannerisms in order to bring out the best in their "performances." Justin Sklar went even further, referencing advancements made while creating "Big Hero 6" that would eventually pay dividends on "Strange World":

"We tend to build a physicality and understand how those physicalities are different. That's why we did the things like the gate test [where each character does the same task in the same setting], which was something we stole from 'Big Hero 6,' because it's a really good way to understand how characters move differently. We take all of those differences that we've built, and we take the similarities that we've built, and then we put them up against what the dialogue is in the scene. We also consider what the scene needs to communicate, and how much is this scene about them coming together versus coming apart."

When it comes to turning each of the main players in the film into full-fledged personalities in their own right, the devil's truly in the details.

"Strange World" will be released on November 23, 2022.