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Disney hopes 'Tangled' brushes up its boy appeal

September 30, 2010 |  4:19 pm

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross was feeling his oats.

A year into the job, Ross suggested it would be exciting to have a horse at Wednesday’s screening of the studio’s holiday film offerings, to promote to the press Disney’s “Secretariat,” which opens Oct. 8. Faster than you can say Triple Crown, a thoroughbred appeared on the grass in front of the theater, where Disney showed a trailer of the racing drama.

“I ask for a horse, I get a horse,” Ross said, as he took the stage at Disney’s main theater.

The studio then showed about 25 minutes of "Tron: Legacy" (more on that presentation here) and also screened a nearly complete version of its Nov. 24 animated movie, "Tangled."

Disney is making a big bet on "Tangled," an animated retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale that Ross labeled "a comedy adventure very much off the grid."

Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, who worked together on “Bolt” and replaced original director Glen Keane on "Tangled," oversaw a complete remake of the film (it was initially called "Rapunzel," but the studio worried the title and the original story wouldn't appeal to boys and men) that now plays up the role of the male lead, the bandit Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi from television's "Chuck").

Even with the new title and some new swashbuckling, the core story remains a tale about an 18-year-old princess (singer Mandy Moore) with magical golden hair who’s trapped in a tower by a cruel woman pretending to be her mother (character actor Donna Murphy) –- and it's a musical, at that.

Greno joked that the reason he and Howard looked so pale was that, like Rapunzel, they had been sequestered indoors for the last two years, feverishly working on the film. The computer-animated movie balances a modern playfulness with elements reminiscent of classic Disney animation, with music by  Alan Menken, composer for “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” and lyrics by Glenn Slater ("Home on the Range"). 

“When people hear we’re making a contemporary version of this classic tale of Rapunzel, they want to know if it would be cynical,” said Howard. “It’s not. It’s got heart."

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski, John Horn and Claudia Eller

 Photo: "Tangled." Credit: The Walt Disney Co.


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