Fading Magic: Decline of Disney’s Storytelling Mastery

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A decade ago if you claimed that Disney struggles to attract audiences, people would have called you either insane or on drugs! I mean, it’s Disney! They are the kings of storytelling and creating iconic IPs. But now, the harsh truth hits us at a time when kids and families wish for magical adventures the most. Disney seems to have lost its storytelling gift, focusing more on marvelous AI-generated visuals instead. It’s a shattering reality that disappoints those who are in love with fascinating fantasy worlds Disney once brought to life.

Getting to know that the main and maybe only cause of this failure lies within what was once the company’s greatest strength, storytelling and creative IPs, may come as a greater shock. The company, renowned for its outstanding and Incomparable storytellers, now seems badly trapped in AI-driven characters, worlds, and concepts. While visually stunning, these creations lack the depth of storytelling and originality that once mesmerized audiences and ruled the world of fantasy.

Stories give form to reality

Jean Luc Godard once said, “Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.” Disney used to stand out as an unrivaled creator, shaping the dreams, words, and joys of numerous generations with memorable animations. And the core and backbone of their creations was powerful, thought provoking, and touching stories. Consider, for instance, the tearful moment when Simba cries for help beside his father’s lifeless body. Think about the burning wish for a Genie to appear from a lamp and grant our deepest desires. Even more recent examples like Zootopia, Frozen and Big Hero 6 show how deeply we connected with those characters and loved to engage ourselves in their tales.


The advent of AI: Disney’s storytelling crisis

The skillful storytelling which is common among all these memorable masterpieces involves characters and situations that we can identify with and empathize with. By following the arc of the hero’s journey created by storytellers we were deeply submerged on an emotional and psychological level. Such stories tap into universal themes of growth, transformation, and redemption, inviting us to embark on an immersive and transformative experience alongside the protagonist. Simply put, we see ourselves or people we know reflected in the characters, which nurtures a sense of connection and empathy, two elements which are far away from any AI innovations. This is the unique feature of human creativity that makes the story feel personal and relevant to our lives.

AI-less storytelling

I’d like to put it this way that Disney was on the peak of telling stories that helped us make sense of the world around us and our own experiences. Those marvelously written stories provide frameworks for understanding complex ideas, moral dilemmas, and existential questions. Through their AI-less storytelling, we could explore themes of love, loss, courage, and finding meaning and significance in our lives. The unfortunate truth, which I sincerely hope is just a temporary phase, is that Disney appears to have lost its touch in storytelling.

Wish upon a story: Disney’s challenge to revive its storytelling Magic

Let’s briefly examine Disney’s latest movies, which are performing poorly in cinemas worldwide. Audiences are not attending screenings, and worse, they’re disliking the films. Despite Disney’s huge budgets poured into creating wonderful characters and concepts for visually stunning productions, they’re failing miserably due to the absence of engaging stories. Consider their recent animated film “Wish,” a title I wish had been chosen differently because it was a wish that never came true. Not only does the main character lack a well written story and character arc, but the supporting characters who are supposed to be carrying elements of fun and joy also lack depth, despite the attractive animation mixing meticulous CGI with AI driven hand-drawn techniques. Contrasting “Wish” with “Arcane,” the difference is evident. What fascinates audiences in “Arcane“? The answer is clear: storytelling.

Self-defining and storytelling

Based on the principles of narrative psychology, story and storytelling play a crucial role in giving meaning to individuals’ experience. They not only form the recollection of past events but also influence the comprehension of the present and the anticipation of future occurrences. Furthermore, stories serve as a fundamental tool in the process of self-definition and life interpretation. Put simply, stories are pivotal gamechangers through which audiences subconsciously interpret and make sense of their life. Regarding the masterfully created visuals which are products of AI tools, Disney’s recent struggles in attracting audiences could undoubtedly be attributed to a lack of creative storytelling. While Disney has a long history of charismatic audiences with exciting narratives masterfully woven into characters, recent projects have drastically fallen short in delivering engaging stories.

In other words, audiences mainly connect with stories that evoke emotion, offer thought-provoking themes, and feature well developed characters with relatable struggles and growth arcs. I’m afraid to put it this way that Disney has failed to engage audiences on a deep emotional level because its characters lack depth and the overall narrative feels shallow or formulaic, leaving the audiences disconnected and disinterested in the storytelling process.

It’s not just about the $200 million “Wish” or the $180 million “Strange World” from last year; Disney has encountered similar disappointments with its CGI packed live action releases as well. Take, for instance, the $150 million “Haunted Mansion” and the $300 million “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” This complicates the situation further because it clearly shows that Disney is struggling to surf on its previously successful IPs. What’s common among all these failures? Disney is misguidedly prioritizing stunning AI-driven visuals over the generation of IPs and storytelling.

What concerns and saddens me the most is that I no longer feel Disney’s distinguishing core is its creative writers and storytellers, but rather its AI-generated exclusive software and tools. Anyway as George Lucas once said It’s okay to lose; just don’t lose the lesson.

4.7/5 - (23 votes)
Seyed Vahid Olyaee
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1 month ago

damn right even Bob Iger admitted they’ve lost focus

1 month ago

every time i watch LionKing I cry for little simba

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