Back in April 2008, Disney announced their schedule of titles through 2012 for new animated features and King of the Elves, which is based on a fantasy short story by Philip K. Dick, was included on that list. At that time, the only details was a brief synopsis of the film, which centers on an ordinary elderly man who reluctantly becomes the leader of a band of elves attempting to escape from an evil troll. But early last month, I noticed that the Disney Animation site had added King of the Elves to their “Projects” area, along with a very Lord of the Rings-like title treatment (see it here at top).
Now, /Film noticed that the CG-animated film, which is slated for a Christmas 2012 release in Disney Digital 3D, has been taken down from the upcoming Projects area (though the film-specific page is still on the site, you just can’t navigate to it anymore).
Also, they’ve discovered a discussion at the Tag Blog (run by leaders of Animation Guild 839) about Disney possibly scrapping the planned animated film, directed by Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker and produced by John Lasseter and Chuck Williams. While the information from Tag is purely speculation at this point and in no way confirmed, I would have completely ignored it if not for the fact that Disney took the project listing down from their site. You have to wonder why — perhaps they are just pushing it to a later date? I guess we’ll have to wait for the inevitable post at the Jim Hill Blog to shed some light on the situation.
I’m really hoping that Disney hasn’t scrapped King of the Elves, and while I thought Christmas 2012 was too long to wait for the film’s release, I’d rather wait a few more years than not see this movie ever come to light at all. /Film’s Brendon Connelly recently visited the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California, where he was able to see lots of concept art, which he deemed “promising,” and if you follow the /Film link at top, you’ll see one of the storyboard sketches for the film. In the sketch, you’ll see that King of the Elves will introduce another black lead character, which I’m assuming is Shadrach Jones, the elderly human man turned “King.” (Disney’s first Black princess, Tiana, made her debut earlier this month in the 2D-animated Princess and the Frog).
IMDB currently has Josh Bednarsky as the voice of “Scratch” in King of the Elves, and while there’s been no official word on additional casting, rumors have surfaced that Samuel L. Jackson and/or Will Smith have been approached for the lead role of Shadrach Jones (that’s the name from the short story; it’s not confirmed whether the film will keep the character’s original name).
Synopsis: Legendary storyteller Philip K. Dick’s short story (his only experiment in the fantasy genre) becomes the basis for this fantastic and imaginative tale about an ordinary man living in the Mississippi Delta, whose reluctant actions to help a desperate band of elves leads them to name him their new king. Joining the innocent and endangered elves as they attempt to escape from an evil and menacing troll, their unlikely new leader finds himself caught on a journey filled with unimaginable dangers, and a chance to bring real meaning back to his life.