Meet the Director of Disney's 'Robinsons'20 Oct, 2007 By: Billy Gil
Meet the Robinsons
Walt Disney Studios' Meet the Robinsons is a lot of things — manic, emotional and dripping with ideas — but one thing it isn't is boring. Robinsons is an irreverent CG-animated comedy that taps into the cartoon past.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release the film on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Oct. 23. Director Steve Anderson discussed the film with Home Media Magazine.
HM: What influenced you for this film?
Anderson: Animation-wise, certainly Disney animation and Warner Bros. were my two big influences as we designed our animation style and contrasted the two worlds, present day and future. The present-day characters walk in a very Disney way, whereas the future characters are more of a Looney Tunes style — quick, snappy — and they're very much like those characters. They invade your personal space, they touch you, grab you.
Certainly the Disney parks, world fairs, the futures they promised in the past with flying cars and robots in your kitchen, that optimism. We don't set out to make references to movies, but because we all love movies, unconsciously they come out in our work. There's certainly a lot of Back to the Future. It's hard to make a time travel movie without evoking Back to the Future.
HM: The film's backstory is partially based on William Joyce's kids book A Day With Wilbur Robinson. Disney had the rights to it for a live-action film, then it migrated to animation. How did you become involved with the film?
Anderson: I was just finishing as story supervisor for Brother Bear in December 2002. I had expressed interest to the studio to try directing, and the studio had developed this script throughout 2002 and said, “We'd like to give you a chance, so read this and see if this is something you'd be interested in.” I had this amazing personal connection being that I was adopted as an infant, so there was no question in my mind that yes, I was going to do this project because I really understood this boy Lewis and what he was thinking and feeling.
HM: There are some really serious messages buried underneath this film, about leaving the past behind and staying positive in the face of adversity. Was that intentional?
Anderson: As a storyteller, I believe you have to have some sort of statement you're making. Sometimes people feel themes get too preachy and limit your choices, but I think you need some sort of controlling idea to support your ideas. We got the “keep moving forward” pretty early on as we developed the story. I feel it's a very universal kind of thing. Mistakes, failures, it doesn't matter what side of the globe you're on, we all go through it. I think it's something that's simple enough that children can understand it but it's relatable to adults as well.
HM: Meet the Robinsons had the largest digital 3-D opening in history. Can you talk a little about how the concept of 3-D informed your filmmaking, and what you think 3-D might mean for home media down the line?
Anderson: The good thing about it is the technology has evolved such that you can control it and it doesn't have to be a gimmick. During the quieter moments, we dialed the depth way down. During the moments like the fight with the dinosaur, we can use the 3-D more heavily. Instead of saying, “hey, let's make people jump in their seats,” we said, “let's get an emotional reaction out of people.”
I can see it coming into people's living rooms. As technology gets more sophisticated, I'd like to think there's a real dynamic future for 3-D in the home. People like the notion of being able to interact with their entertainment. 3-D allows you to do that.