The Hunchback of Notre Dame Revisited

(Revisiting the Renaissance is a bi-weekly series in which Josh Spiegel looks back at the history and making of the 13 films of the Disney Renaissance, released between 1986 and 1999. In today’s column, he discusses the 1996 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.)

In the mid-1980s, when Jeffrey Katzenberg sat down to watch an early cut of The Black Cauldron, one of the concerns he had was that the film was too dark. Even in the 1980s, there existed a cultural notion of what was and was not acceptable and expected from a “Disney movie”. A film in which a character called the Horned King strives to raise an army of the dead was simply too grim for the studio to handle. 

But The Black Cauldron also arrived at a low point for Disney animation. The studio couldn’t push the envelope because they were struggling to get by. Being daring is risky enough when you’re popular, let alone on death’s door. When, however, you become wildly successful with critics and worldwide audiences, you can push yourselves and your target demographics.

Take, for example, a film from the same studio released in the summer of 1996. This film opens with a six-minute musical number in which a self-righteous and cruel villain murders an innocent, defenseless woman and is just barely stopped from drowning a deformed baby by a horrified priest.

In short, it takes very little time for Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame to establish that it’s not fucking around.

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spider-man animated series new

The fate of Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in serious doubt right now thanks to a contractual spat between Marvel and Sony. But that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of the web-slinger under the Marvel banner. A new Spider-Man animated series, Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends, is headed to Disney Junior in 2021.

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Raya and the Last Dragon concept art

In 2018, some details began to leak online about a possible new Walt Disney Animation project rumored to be called Dragon Empire. We knew that Disney story artists Paul Briggs (Frozen) and Dean Wellins (Zootopia) were attached to make their directorial debut, with Moana producer Osnat Shurer overseeing and Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians) writing the script.

Now that project has officially been announced, and its real title has been revealed to be Raya and the Last Dragon. Here’s what we learned about the movie at the D23 Expo.
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Soul logo

Pete Docter isn’t just the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar Animation Studios – he’s also one of the most talented filmmakers in their line-up. Now, the director of Monsters Inc., Up, and Inside Out (the latter two took home Best Animated Film at the Academy Awards) is back with Soul, a mysterious new movie set to open next year. An original Pixar movie without a number in its title and Docter steering the ship? Tell us more, please.

Thankfully, we did learn more about this film at the D23 convention, where we were finally able to put some context to the incredibly vague synopsis.

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Onward D23

Disney/Pixar is pumping the brakes on sequels, and its next movie is a totally original animated fantasy adventure called Onward. As usual, the cast is wildly impressive: Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer star, and Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) is the writer/director behind the new feature.

We learned a bit more about this elf-centric adventure film during today’s D23 presentation – here’s what we know so far.
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What If footage

At today’s D23 Expo, Kevin Feige unveiled the very first footage for What If, Marvel Studios’ upcoming animated series that explores alternate realities in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s what we saw in the new footage. Read More »

Monsters at Work First Look Photo

Monsters Inc. is coming to Disney+ as part of the Pixar Animation library of films that will be available on the new streaming service. But it’s also getting an animated workplace comedy sequel series that will focus on a new main character working at the Monstropolis corporation at a rather confusing time.

As we previously learned, Monsters at Work takes place six months after the original movie as the power plant that used to harvest children’s screams now aims to use their more powerful laughter to power the city. The series follows a new employee named Tylor Tuskmon (voiced by Ben Feldman), fresh out of school (where he graduated Scarem Cum Laude) who was hired to be a scarer on the scare floor, but on his first day, the company switches to laughter. See the Monsters at Work first look photo below. Read More »

big mouth season 3 images

Big changes are coming to Big Mouth in the upcoming third season of the Netflix animated comedy series. The constant battle with hormones only gets hairier in a batch of new Big Mouth season 3 images, which Netflix just released. See the Big Mouth season 3 images below.

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toy story 4 box office tracking

Toy Story 4 surprised the hell out of everyone this summer by actually being a very good sequel that somehow put a better period on the end of the Pixar Animation franchise than the already stellar ending of Toy Story 3. But if you missed your chance to catch the return of Woody and Buzz Lightyear, or you just can’t wait to watch it again, you’ll be happy to hear that both the Toy Story 4 Blu-ray/DVD and Digital release dates have been set for early October. Find out when you can bring Toy Story 4 home below. Read More »

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New Masters of the Universe Series

While Sony Pictures is currently getting a new Masters of the Universe movie together, there’s another treat in store for fans who have been anxious to head back to Eternia. Filmmaker Kevin Smith announced at Power-Con that he will act as executive producer and showrunner on a new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series at Netflix that will pick up where the original series left off back in 1985. Read More »