I had finally completed my work on the latest Walt Disney Studios animated motion picture and had moved to Northern California to work with a small start up. The company had the crazy notion of making movies using digital technology. The idea seemed intriguing so I decided to relocate to San Rafael and join in the fun. The company had only produced one motion picture and was hard at work creating a second. In any case, it was a great place to work and so very different from my former place of employment.
One day, I received an interesting offer from one of the editors of Disney’s Publishing Group. Well aware that I had worked on the soon to be released Disney motion picture, “Mulan,” would I be interested in writing a children’s book based on the film’s principal character? I immediately jumped on the opportunity because it was too good to ignore. Even though I would be spending my days developing a new animated motion picture, I knew my evenings would be free. After work, I would usually head for San Rafael and the nearby Starbucks. Not surprising, is it? Can you think of a better place for an author to write a book? Actually, I was quite taken with the little community while living in the Bay Area. San Rafael seemed a cozy, quaint little place for creative people to settle in. There was another famous filmmaker who headquartered his staff in several nearby San Rafael buildings. I had heard he was already constructing his own filmmaking facility out in the nearby Lucas Valley. The gentleman had already acquired sufficient capital because his space fantasy movies had found an audience. They were odd movies filled with Jawas, drones, Wookies and the like. However, that’s another story.
Anyway, armed with my cup of coffee, I sat in Starbucks and worked away on my story that featured the beautiful Mulan along with her pet dragon, Mushu. It was easy getting up to speed. After all, I had just spent two years or so working on the Disney animated film. I knew the characters, the locations and the tone of the story. This assignment proved to be ideal and I felt that nothing could go wrong. However, I was about to be surprised by an unsuspecting turn of events. It would seem that the publishing bosses had been monitoring screenings of the new film. These test screenings began to reveal something no one had expected. It would appear, according to the tests that the movie was beginning to - as they put it - “skew older.” That meant children would probably not be interested in seeing the new Disney film. And, if kids would not would not care to see the Disney movie, they probably wouldn’t have an interest in a kid’s book either. I was payed a “kill fee,” and my Mulan book was tossed on the shelf never to be published.
Of course, this is why I hate focus groups, demographic tests and other surveys created by the bozo brigade. Tests that are still being done even today. Naturally, the “brilliant analysis” proved to be wrong and children everywhere fell in love with the Disney motion picture. Not surprisingly, Mushu the Dragon ended up being a very popular Disney character. My book, on the other hand was never published. Naturally, all this was based on a sage decision by some Disney executive who is more than likely no longer with the company.