John Musker is a Disney legend. His collaborations with Ron Clements led to massive animated hits such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Moana. So when he talks about Disney, people should listen.

Now an interview has surfaced for a Spanish magazine – El País – from an animation conference in which he criticized the current direction of the studio:

“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 you to get involved in the characters and the story and the world, and I think that’s still the heart of it.

You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling.”

Earlier in the same interview, he said that progressiveness was not central to the conversation when he made The Princess And The Frog, an animated movie that featured the first black Disney princess.

“We weren’t trying to be woke, although I understand the criticism.”

He was particularly critical of the creative decisions taken around the character of Sebastian in the recent live-action remake of The Little Mermaid:

“You could look at live animals in a zoo and they have more expression, like with The Lion King. That’s one of the basic things about Disney, is the appeal. That’s what animation does best.”

He also revealed that his passion project would be to adapt Mort, from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, the book that he’s kept close throughout his entire career. He says no one wants to buy the story because they think it’s “too dark”:


A live-action version of Moana is well-advanced at the studio.

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