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New art! And a question: Will Disney make the Prydain movies right?

The Book of Three concept artwork by Justin Kunz.

The Book of Three concept artwork by Justin Kunz. The title of the first volume in the Prydain Chronicles comes from this powerful book of history, prophecy, and magic. So named because, “it tells all three parts of our lives: the past, the present, and the future,” The Book of Three is guarded by Dallben, the powerful enchanter.

 

There might be a few folks out there asking the question: Is Disney actually going to get the Prydain Chronicles films right this time?

I know some of you—probably those who love the books and were perhaps disappointed by the animated film treatment, The Black Cauldron—may have read Disney’s announcement regarding the new Prydain films with a vague sense of dread. Maybe you even thought, “Uh oh. Not again. I don’t know if I can bear to watch them foul it up a second time.”

To be fair to the animated film, a lot of people liked it. A lot of people still like it. I can almost hear you saying, “Yes, but those people probably never read Lloyd Alexander’s books, so they have no idea what they’re missing. They don’t know the cinematic potential of the story.”

If this sounds like you, you are not alone. But just imagine how amazed people will be if (and when) they finally get to see a new series of live-action Prydain films made in a way that is faithful and true to what makes the source material so delightful. Does the risk of these films falling short of their potential outweigh the potential benefits of seeing them done right? I don’t think so. That’s why I am fully in favor of this undertaking. Personally, I have plenty of reasons to be very confident in Disney’s ability to make these films in a grand, epic, heart-felt way. And I think you should too.

To name just a few reasons, first of all, it’s been more than thirty years since The Black Cauldron animated film debuted. That was 1985, the same year Back to the Future came out. And The Breakfast Club, The Goonies, Weird Science, and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Almost none of the same people who were there at that time, who made the decisions that were made, even work for Disney anymore. Most of them have retired or moved on to different career paths. For all intents and purposes it’s ‘a whole new world’ at Disney. And I don’t think it’s really fair to judge a person by something they did thirty years ago, much less judge an organization by that standard.

For those who are still reluctant to give Disney the benefit of the doubt, please understand that thanks to the Internet and social media, you might actually have some influence on whether or not these films end up getting made. Think about it: if we act disinterested in the project, or pre-judge it as destined for failure, what would be the most likely thing that would happen? Disney producers would survey the fans’ reaction on the web and determine that the people saying “meh” outnumber the ones going “YEAH!” They would conclude that people don’t really care about seeing the world of Prydain in films, and without an eager audience they won’t risk the time and money it would take to actually do justice to these stories. The doubt and apathy of naysayers would then become a self-fulfilling prophecy: either the films wouldn’t happen at all, or they would simply be deferred for who knows how many more years while Disney patiently waits for a more receptive, enthusiastic audience to emerge.

In my view the only reasonable choice for those of us who love the Chronicles of Prydain is to come out in force, in full support of Disney’s announcement. Have some confidence in the studio that gave us Pirates of the Caribbean, Maleficent, and the new Cinderella—not to mention Star Wars: The Force AwakensZootopia, Frozen, and Tangled. Start doing the things I recommended out in my last post, “New Prydain artwork! And some thoughts on creating a movement.” Let the Internet hear our “collective roar” of eager anticipation for each new revelation regarding the project. Let Disney know why it’s so important to you that the team assembled to develop these films be made up of creative professionals who are not only gifted in their disciplines, but who know the source material well and are emotionally invested in seeing it be as true and faithful to Alexander’s vision as possible within the medium of cinema.

~ J. Kunz

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New Prydain artwork! And some thoughts on creating a movement.

Gurgi is the name of the hairy creature who first annoys, then endears himself to Taran in The Book of Three. A faithful companion throughout the Prydain Chronicles, Gurgi repeatedly demonstrates great courage, selflessness, and humor.

“Crunchings and munchings?” Gurgi is the hairy forest creature who first annoys, then endears himself to Taran in The Book of Three. A faithful companion throughout the Prydain Chronicles, Gurgi repeatedly demonstrates great courage, selflessness, and humor in his quest to earn a place among the race of men.

 

We’ve seen some awesome responses to the concept poster illustration for the Prydain Chronicles over the past two days since we released it. I want to thank everyone who shared it on social media, clicked “like,” or otherwise reacted with enthusiasm and support. I’d like to try and answer a few of the questions that have come up about this project.

My post, “An Open Letter to Sam Dickerman—Executive VP Walt Disney Pictures,” has been well received, in spite of its length and meandering, autobiographical tone. Some have very kindly offered to put Jared Crossley and me in touch with people at Disney who might connect us with Mr. Dickerman, and for that we are grateful.

I make no bones about the fact that I’d love to work on the films. But beyond trying to persuade Disney executives and producers to bring us on as collaborators in the development, right now, more than anything, I believe the decision-makers at Disney need to hear from you— the people of the Internet who care about Prydain, who want to see these books made into films that will be true to the original vision of the author. They have to see some proof that there’s a huge audience of fans who are excited about these films, who will actually go out and watch them in massive numbers rivaling that of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. They need clear signs that the many millions of dollars worth of investment for the development, production and marketing of the first film is a smart bet. They need to know if people want it enough to spend their time and money to go see it, to have confidence that the series has the potential for significant profits.

So… how can you help? What power do you have to make big things like this happen? More than you think! Send a message. Not necessarily a private message to a Disney exec, but an open, public message to the world through the Internet. Post your thoughts and make your case why you personally want to see these films. Tell the world what it is that makes Prydain meaningful to you—that great sensibility and spirit that made them so appealing in the first place. Share your personal stories, share your writing, music, photography, games, cosplay or whatever it is you do that relates to Prydain and its memorable characters. Share your artwork, your drawings, paintings, sculptures, 3D models and designs.

We need to start flooding the web with this stuff over the coming weeks and months, to show Disney that popular demand for Prydain is strong and rising like a tsunami. Create memes, make YouTube videos, put up web pages, blogs and fan sites. Share, “like,” repost, reblog and retweet all your favorite quotes and dialogue from the books with hashtags like #Prydain or #The Black Cauldron. Tag others you think might be interested in your pictures, videos and posts. Follow this blog to share and re-post the new Prydain concept sketches and paintings I plan to release each week over the next few months. You can also follow me on InstagramFacebookTumblr or Twitter and pass the artwork along to your followers on those platforms. And follow other blogs and fan pages posting things about Prydain. Do some daily Google searches for “Prydain,” the titles of the books in the series, and the names of characters like Taran, Eilonwy, Gurgi, Hen Wen, Gwydion, Achren or The Horned King, to drive traffic to these search terms and see if we can get them trending.

If enough people simply speak up and post your thoughts about Prydain on social media, if we make this thing compelling enough that it will spread until it goes viral, we can demonstrate to Disney that the project is a sure-fire hit with huge potential because the core audience is already here, waiting and hungry for it. Don’t think your individual contributions to this effort are too small to matter. Remember: many little pebbles thrown into a pond together can make big waves. When it comes to creating a movement online, every voice matters—including and especially yours.
– J. Kunz

 

Let there be Art!

Emerald Jungle, Pandaria. Digital, 2011. © Blizzard Entertainment.

Emerald Jungle, Pandaria. Digital, 2011. © Blizzard Entertainment.