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Disney Director Sounds Alarm: ‘Course Correction’ Needed for Success

John Musker, the acclaimed Disney director known for classics like “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” recently shared his thoughts on the direction Disney should take following several public failures. Musker, who has been with Disney for over four decades and co-directed with Ron Clements on numerous successful projects, offered his advice during an interview with Spanish outlet El País at the Animayo International Summit in Gran Canaria.

Musker, whose credits also include “The Great Mouse Detective,” “Hercules,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “Moana,” reflected on the criticism Disney has faced, particularly regarding “The Princess and the Frog.” The 2009 film tells the story of a waitress in New Orleans who dreams of opening her own restaurant. “We weren’t trying to be woke, although I understand the criticism,” Musker explained. “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.”

He emphasized the importance of storytelling and character development over pushing agendas. “You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling. 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,” Musker advised.

Musker also recounted challenges during the Gulf War while making “Aladdin.” The team had to use an anagram, Agrabah, for Baghdad due to the war. “Because of the war, we couldn’t even go there to do research. Our big research took place at the Saudi Arabian expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center,” he said, highlighting the creative adaptations they had to make.

Disney has faced financial struggles recently, largely due to films that critics argue prioritize woke messaging over storytelling. The “Toy Story” spinoff “Lightyear,” which featured a prominently promoted same-sex kiss, is one such example. The 2022 film earned only $226.4 million against a $200 million budget, likely losing money after marketing and other expenses, as previously reported by The Daily Wire. Despite these results, Disney is moving forward with “Toy Story 5.”

Musker’s comments underscore a growing concern among conservatives that Disney’s focus on social agendas is compromising the quality of its storytelling. By prioritizing entertainment and engaging characters, Disney could return to the successful formula that made its classic films beloved by audiences of all ages.

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