Ant vs 1001 legs: the first war between DreamWorks and Disney

In 1998, DreamWorks launches its first animated film, Antwith the firm intention of dethroning the giant of the sector disneyPixar.

Toy Story by Pixar was released in 1995 and revolutionized animated films in Hollywood by being the first in computer-generated images. But the jumping lamp studio is not the only one in this new race, because, a year before, DreamWorks is founded by Steven Spielbergthe producer David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, a former Disney producer determined to bring down his former boss. For the title of second 3D animated film in the history of cinema, the all-new DreamWorks and the Pixar/Disney colossus will to fight on the same ground, that of the ants.

Between Ant from DreamWorks and 1001 paws from Pixar, it’s still unclear which one is inspired (or plagiarized) from the other, or if it’s pure coincidence. For John Lasseter (director of 1001 legs) and Steve Jobs (head of Pixar), Katzenberg stole the concept from them. For Katzenberg, Ant was pitched by PDI, a computer animation studio, and maintains that he knew nothing about the project 1001 legs before launching his film. However, from the end of the 1980s, the project Army Ants turns at Disney, and 1001 legs is offered by screenwriter Joe Ranft and Andrew Stanton to Mickey’s Society in 1994. For the director of Ant, Tim Johnsonthe first version of the scenario dates from 1991.

The situation is very uncomfortable for Spielberg, Geffen and Katzenberg. Their young studio must survive against the behemoth mouse-eared production company while imposing in passing its more adult and referenced tone. Ant is a real bet for DreamWorks, and will open hostilities against Disney-Pixar.

Sharon Stone in Antz

Red ant versus blue ant

When the production of Ant is launched, the director of Toy Story John Lasseter totally ignores it. As proof, during a visit he made to his friend Jeffrey Katzenberg, he enthusiastically recounts the entire project 1001 legs. Katzenberg is especially worried about one piece of information: the release date of 1001 legs. Because at the same time, the studio is preparing its first feature film, in traditional animation, The Prince of Egypt. Logically, Katzenberg wants to prevent his film on Moses from being faced with an obviously more unifying Disney project.

If this war is cold at the beginning, it heats up very quickly, because for Katzenberg, it is personal. The DreamWorks co-founder is on a crusade against his former employer, Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who pushed him out when he was seeking the company’s No. 2 spot. Katzenberg took it badly to be dismissedhe who allowed the partnership between Disney and Pixar, in addition to having helped a lot Toy Story to see the day. The resentment is therefore tenacious for the producer decided to attack what he helped to create.

Antz: photo, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone“You were ant, I was ant.”

Thus, the beginning of the rivalry between DreamWorks and Pixar/Disney begins unofficially. Lasseter notably made the bitter discovery of the subject of the DreamWorks cartoon: ants. The blow is hard and even now the director sees it as a betrayal, claiming his former friend knew about Pixar’s Insectoid Project before he launched the production of Ant. The final stab at Lasseter came when he learned that Katzenberg was in negotiations with Pacific Digital Images (PDI), the special effects and animation studio responsible for Antso that their film comes out before 1001 legs.

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Ant vs 1001 legs: the first war between DreamWorks and Disney

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