Published 19:02 IST, May 27th 2024

The Little Mermaid Director Suggests 'Course Correction' For Disney: Message Should Be Secondary

John Musker asked the studio to focus more on "entertainment and compelling story and engaging characters" than sending out a message.

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Still from Hercules animated film | Image: IMDb

Filmmaker John Musker, who directed such Disney animation films as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules, has suggested a "course correction" for Walt Disney Company. He called out the production house for prioritising political messaging over entertainment in their feature films. He asked the studio to focus more on "entertainment and compelling story and engaging characters" than sending out a message.

File photo of John Musker ~ Image: AP

John Musker calls out Walt Disney Company

Looking back at the time he made movies for Disney, Musker said that they were not trying to be "woke" but added that he understood the criticism surrounding some of the films like The Princess and the Frog (2009), which was met with mixed reception over the depiction of Disney’s first Black princess. He also criticised the 2023 live-action remake of The Little Mermaid saying the makers did not  “play up the father-daughter story, and that was the heart of the movie, in a way."

Still from Disney animation movie ~ Image: IMDb

“I think they need to do a course correction a bit in terms of putting the message secondary, behind entertainment and compelling story and engaging characters,” Musker told Spanish outlet El País at this year’s Animayo International Summit in Gran Canaria, Spain.

Musker wants filmmakers to focus on characters and the story

Musker added, “The classic Disney films didn’t start out trying to have a message. They wanted you to get involved in the characters and the story and the world, and I think that’s still the heart of it. You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling.”


Musker has collaborated with fellow director Ron Clements on several Disney animated features including The Great Mouse Detective (1986), The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), Hercules (1997), Treasure Planet (2002) and Moana (2016).

19:02 IST, May 27th 2024