‘Little Mermaid,’ ‘Aladdin’ Director Says Disney Needs ‘Course Correction’ To Be Successful Again

John Musker
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

John Musker, renowned Disney director responsible for projects like “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” offered his words of advice for the company following several public flops for the studio.

For more than four decades, Musker served as co-director alongside Ron Clements. Some of his other well-known projects include “The Great Mouse Detective,” “Hercules,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “Moana.”

The filmmaker spoke with Spanish outlet El País during the Animayo International Summit in Gran Canaria last week about several topics, including negative feedback for “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), the story of a waitress who dreams of opening her restaurant in New Orleans. 

“We weren’t trying to be woke, although I understand the criticism. 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,” Musker said. 

“You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling. 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 added. 


The filmmaker also spoke about challenges during the Gulf War. Musker said while making “Aladdin,” the team had to disguise the name Baghdad with an anagram: Agrabah. “Because of the war, we couldn’t even go there to do research. Our big research took place at the Saudi Arabian expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center,” he said.

Disney has been suffering financially in recent years after releasing films with woke messaging, including the “Toy Story” spinoff “Lightyear,” which featured a highly-promoted same-sex kiss between two female characters.

The 2022 animated film earned a paltry $226.4 million against a $200 million budget, meaning it likely lost money after factoring in marketing and other expenses, as The Daily Wire previously reported. Despite the poor results, Disney is currently developing “Toy Story 5.”

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