Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alice in Promoland

Just a little "head's up" today on a new Disney marketing initiative that's slowly starting to gain momentum. You've probably heard all about the upcoming Disney/Tim Burton live action/CGI adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (which you can read more about here and here). The film won't hit theaters until 2010, but Disney is already slowly building buzz around the property's rebranding. While the original animated Alice in Wonderland is definitely a beloved Disney classic, it isn't exactly associated with the kind of cross-promotional hoopla that the company has perfected with properties like Monsters Inc. and the Disney Princesses. So it's not surprising to see that the company is using Burton's re-imagining of Lewis Carrol's original tale as an opportunity to give the property a promo-focused face lift.

Preliminary evidence of this campaign emerged this past September, with the (re?-)release of a new hardcover Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland book, illustrated by Mary Blair (*****Update: After just a tiny bit more hunting online, I found out that Blair was actually a longtime illustrator and animator at Disney, and was the one who produced the original concept artwork for Alice in Wonderland in 1951!!! Which explains the dark undertones of the Disney classic animated film, while also supplying a great historical/nostalgic anchor for the new adaptation. Thank you Wikipedia******). Blair's illustrations also happen to do a fantastic job of bridging the original Disney animated film's characters and style (which were of course ultimately much more cartoon-y and bright than Blair's concept art) with the darker and more gothic Tim Burton aesthetic. While it's too early to start identifying consistencies between the book and upcoming movie, I couldn't help but notice that the Mad Hatter in both versions now has wild red hair. I'm not sure how the stories themselves will compare (Burton seems to be staying truer to the Lewis Carroll story), but my interest is definitely piqued. I'm also wondering at the unlikely coincidence of Sesame Street's newest direct-to-DVD project Abby in Wonderland, which was also released in September.

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