Legendary filmmaker John Musker, known for his work on iconic Disney films such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” and “Moana,” recently expressed concern about the direction Walt Disney Studios has been taking with its recent movie releases. Speaking at the Animayo International Summit in Gran Canaria, Musker voiced that Disney’s focus on injecting political messages over storytelling and character development is something that may require a course correction.

In an interview with Spanish outlet El País, Musker emphasized the importance of prioritizing engaging narratives and compelling characters, suggesting that political messaging should be secondary. Reflecting on his own films, including “The Princess and the Frog,” which introduced Disney’s first Black princess, he acknowledged that although some viewed it as an attempt at being “woke,” the intent was always character and story-driven, not agenda-pushing.

Musker’s comments come at a time when Disney has faced significant backlash, with critics accusing the company of adopting a woke agenda. This criticism has coincided with a series of box office disappointments, such as the 2022 pro-LGBTQ film “Lightyear,” and significant financial challenges including massive layoffs and a substantial drop in Disney+ subscribers.

The veteran director also recounted how political events, like the Gulf War, influenced decisions during his time at Disney, such as changing the name of the city in “Aladdin” from Baghdad to Agrabah for sensitivity. Despite these adjustments, Musker felt the political climate wasn’t as aggressive as it appears today.

Touching on the topic of Disney’s series of live-action remakes, Musker offered his critique of “The Little Mermaid” 2023 adaptation, starring Halle Bailey. He expressed that the remake missed the essence of the original by not emphasizing the father-daughter relationship, which he sees as central to the story. Musker also critiqued the reduced expressiveness in animated animal characters, an element he believes is core to Disney’s charming appeal.

We encourage our Disney fans to share their thoughts in the comments below. What do you think about John Musker’s views on Disney’s direction? Do you agree or disagree with his perspective? Let’s get the conversation started!

*Sources: El País, Getty Images, Walt Disney*