'They Need To Do A Course Correction': Little Mermaid Director Points Disney's Current Story Problems; READ

John Musker, the retired Disney filmmaker, speaks out against the company's move towards political messaging, stressing the significance of a captivating storyline and well-developed characters.

Published on May 27, 2024  |  11:13 AM IST |  33.8K
John Musker (IMDb)

Retired Disney filmmaker John Musker, known for directing classics like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules, recently criticized the Walt Disney Company for prioritizing political messaging over storyline in its recent films.

In a new interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, Musker emphasized the need for a "course correction" at Disney’s animation studio, stating, “I think they need to do a course correction a bit in terms of putting the message secondary, behind entertainment and compelling story and engaging characters.”

“The classic Disney films didn't start out trying to have a message. They wanted to get involved in the characters and the story and the world, and I think that's still the heart of it,” Musker added. “You don't have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling.”

The directing legend also compared the era of Disney under Jeffrey Katzenberg to that of now.

John Musker on added scrutiny at Walt Disney in recent years and the criticism of The Princess and the Frog 

“In the ‘90s, we had Jeffrey. He was an emperor, you know. But there weren't 10 Jeffreys,” Musker told the outlet about fewer cooks being in the kitchen, adding, “Now, you have too many people to satisfy. Before we didn't have 15 directors telling you how to make the movie, but in some ways, they were right, it was a good thing.” 


As for the criticism his 2009’s The Princess and the Frog was met with for the depiction of Disney’s first Black princess, Musker said, “We weren't trying to be woke, although I understand the criticism.” 

Elsewhere in the interview, the animated filmmaker shared his take on Disney’s live-action remakes. 

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Disney Veteran Critiques Live-Action Adaptations

“Companies are always like, ‘How do we reduce our risk? They like this, right? We’ll just do it again and sell it to them in a different form,” Musker said. “Or they think, ‘Well, we could make it better.’” 

He specifically targeted the 2023 live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, saying, “They didn't play up the father-daughter story, and that was the heart of the movie, in a way. And the crab — you could look at live animals in a zoo and they have more expression, like with The Lion King.” 

“That’s one of the best things about Disney, is the appeal,” he added. “That’s what animation does best.” 


After feeling disenchanted with Hollywood, Musker is now venturing into the indie space for his next chapter. Currently, he's hitting the festival circuit to promote his latest short film, I'm Hip, a quirky tale about a self-absorbed cat.

Musker designed and animated the short all on his own, spending four years making the movie. 

ALSO READ: Where Is Bridgit Mendler Now? Her Life And Career After Disney Explored As Actress Graduates From Harvard Law School


What does John Musker criticize about Disney's approach to reducing risk?
John Musker highlights Disney's tendency to recycle successful formulas or attempt to improve upon them as a strategy for risk reduction.

What's John Musker up to now in the filmmaking world?
After leaving Disney in 2018, Musker is now exploring the indie space. He's currently promoting his self-animated short film, I'm Hip, at various festivals.

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About The Author

Greetings! I'm a storytelling enthusiast with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Mumbai University.



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