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Glen Keane has Left the Walt Disney Animation Studios

edited March 2012 in News
On Friday, Glen Keane left the Walt Disney Animation Studios. For those of you who do not know who Glen Keane is, his credits include being the supervising animator for Ariel in the Little Mermaid, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Tarzan, John Silver in Treasure Planet, Professor Ratigan from the Great Mouse Detective, Pocahontas, the Bear from the Fox and the Hound, Marahute from the Rescuers Down Under, Sykes, Georgette, and Fagin from the Oliver and Company, and Elliot the Dragon from Pete's Dragon. On top of all that, he was originally the director of Tangled and was one of the most instrumental people in getting that movie made. He was also the supervising animator of Rapunzel. Outside of the world of Disney, he was a layout artist for Star Trek the Animated Series and was an animator for the Chipmunk Adventure.

Here is his official letter of resignation:
March 23, 2012 Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Walt Disney Animation Studio, After long and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to leave Disney Animation. I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate art form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist it’s siren call to step out and discover them. Disney has been my artistic home since September 9,1974. I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me—Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston—as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years. Over these four decades I have seen so many changes, but the one thing that remains the same is that we all do this because we love it. I am humbled and deeply honored to have worked side by side so many artists, producers and directors during my career here at Disney, and I am tremendously proud of the films which together we have created. I will deeply miss working with you. With my most sincere and heartfelt good wishes for your and Disney’s continued artistic growth and success, Glen
Glen Keane leaving Disney is something that no one could have really predicted. He had worked there for almost four decades and left after having one of the largest critical and financial successes of his career (which would make sense if he wanted to leave on a high note, I guess). There are rumours that he left because he wasn't pleased with Disney's use of CG instead of hand-drawn animation (which would be ridiculous considering that he's looking around the animation industry for a new job. The internet is saying that DreamWorks is trying to court him, but Disney is the only major American animation studio that is producing 2D animated films at all.)

This is the end of an era and Disney animation will never quite be the same.


  • I've already expressed most of my feelings other places so this feels a little redundant replying to you here, but here's a theory:

    Maybe he's going to Dreamworks because he feels like, particularly after How to Train Your Dragon, they have way more potential than they are actually exploring and the animation market would benefit from more sincere competition. Disney has this overall rule over the market, maybe he's trying to tip the scales so that the competition will drive the industry as a whole to improve?
  • To be quite honest, I don't think that Glen Keane going to Dreamworks will do THAT much to change the animation studio. When Chris Sanders went there they did make an amazing film in How to Train Your Dragon, but having a success like that only meant one thing to Dreamworks: oh man, another franchise to milk dry. There are already two other films in the works along with a TV show and they've already made and released a Christmas special. Sure Pixar has been a bit sequel/prequel heavy recently, but it is no where on the level of the Dreamworks franchise machine. Seriously, did we need four Shrek movies and three Madagascar movies?
  • I kind of doubt he'd go to Dreamworks. I almost wonder if he will go the Bluth route, and after building his career at Disney try to found his own smaller venture.
    I mean, I really doubt he would jump ship just to go to Dreamworks. I share Li's sentiments about the state of their IP handling. They just don't know when to let a decent idea rest. They are also even more 3D centric than Disney is, as you said. If one was a 2D animator who wanted to work on large scale American animated features, Disney is your best shot. Someone in his position has enough talent and clout that I think he might have a shot at founding a smaller, Independent production house, and that's really what I hope he does.
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