Henry Selick Still Hopes Disney Will Release A Film On The Shelves


Visiting the set of the Oscar-nominated director and animator Henry Selickthe last production of, Wendell and savagespecific to Collider Wax of Alyse had the opportunity to visit the designer and sit down to talk shop. Older movies like James and the giant peachto his current collaboration with one of horror’s freshest faces Jordan Pele, Wax was able to secure an exclusive interview that may give longtime Selick fans a glimmer of hope for future projects. Does anyone remember The King of Shadows? Nope? This is because it was scrapped before it could see the light of day.

Selick worked with Disney from the early 80s on classic films such as The fox and the hunting dog and The black cauldron. Nearby, while Selick was taking art lessons, he met a young Tim Burton and the two later formed their own small production company. Years later, Burton would return to their partnership and sell to Disney, which paved the way for the duo to create Oscar-nominated movies. The Nightmare Before Christmas. A dark and original film based on the art of Burton, Nightmare was something Disney had never done before, and in 1993, Selick’s team with the Master of the Macabre put stop-motion animation on the map. Since his work on the years 2009 Coralinean adaptation by Selick from the award-winning author’s work Neil Gaimanthe esteemed entertainer has been mostly out of the limelight.


After Selick was engaged to Disney Pixar in 2010, the animator pitched an idea for a story he wrote that Disney ultimately deemed “too weird”, originally titled The King of Shadows. Before being scrapped, however, the project was initially greenlit in 2011, with a number of sculptors and designers on board to bring Selick’s next masterpiece to life. Sketches, sets and molds were worked on for a year, with a full script fleshed out, but after apparently investing $50 million Walt Disney canceled Selick’s vision, cutting off his wings before he could take off. , due, they say, to concerns about future costs. It’s perhaps no coincidence that this was a turning point for Disney in which fans saw the company refocus its attention on pre-existing franchises and rake in merchandise. From a business point of view, The King of Shadows was just too dark to be marketed to children. (Hot Topic would like a word, Disney.)

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The original official synopsis of Selick’s film:

“The Shadow King is a deliciously magical tale about a nine-year-old New York orphan, ‘Hap’, who hides his impossibly strange hands with long fingers from a cruel world. But when a living shadow girl teaches him making incredible hand shadows that come to life, his hands become incredible weapons in a shadow war against a ravenous monster bent on killing Hap’s brother, Richard, and ultimately destroying New York City.”

There was a brief period of time in 2013 when Selick tried again to lobby for The King of Shadows be made. There was even a cast of actors suggested to voice the film, including Pamela Adlon (king of the hill), Brendan Gleeson, Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Drum and Jaden Betts as the main character Hap. Again, budgeting has become The King of Shadowsis the fall.

In his interview with Wax, Selick said, “I had a project for Disney Pixar that got shut down, it was too weird for them, called The Shadow King, and I got the rights back to it.” Years later, the animation genius might finally be able to share his creation with his fans. He described The King of Shadows like “a really cool story. It’s like Dumbo“, then describing the feeling of otherness the little boy feels because of his abnormal hands. When discussing the film, he did not confirm that it would be finished and released, but assured Wax that it was “…something [he’d] like to live again.”

While we wait for Selick’s long-lost passion project to finally emerge, be sure to check it out Wendell and savage, coming to Netflix in October. To see some of the finished talents of The King of Shadowsincluding a short clip from the film, you can watch the video below:


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