John Lasseter: Disney-Pixar Has No Plans to Localize in Asia Just Yet

Photo by Scott Feinberg
John Lasseter

The executive gave a nod to South Korea for the groundbreaking success of 'Frozen'

While DreamWorks Animation is set to launch its Chinese venture in Shanghai and to collaborate with South Korean animation studios, John Lasseter says Disney-Pixar has no immediate plans for localized projects in Asia.

"At this point in time, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, we have artists from all over the world working for us. We are working on handcrafted films at our in-house studios," Lasseter told Korean reporters on Tuesday in Seoul, where he kicked off the company's Asia tour.

About the growth of other animation firms, he said he welcomes healthy competition. "I'd rather be a player in a healthy industry rather than a single player in a dead industry," he said.

The chief of the animation giant added, however, that both studios are always seeking inspiration "all over the world, for wonderful legends and stories."

The reason for kicking off the tour in Korea, moreover, he said, is due to the incredible success of Frozen here, which made the Asian country the largest market for the wintry tale outside of the U.S. Grossing more than $77 million, according to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS data — plus additional profits through IPTV — it became one of the 10 highest-grossing films in Korean box-office history.

"What happened in this country with the movie Frozen is very special. Frozen healed the Walt Disney Animation Studio and made the studio so strong. And the way Korea loved the movie so much meant so much for us," said the executive. "The reason why we chose to start here in Seoul, Korea, for our big Asian tour is to say thank you."

Read more 'Frozen' Producer Talks Franchise Rumors, Disney Strategy, Bizarre Popularity in South Korea (Q&A)

He presented the highlights of Disney-Pixar's 2015-2016 lineup, including Big Hero 6. The film had made headlines in Korea for featuring the voice of Daniel Henney, one of the biggest local stars.

"We were very happy to have Daniel Henney do the voice of Teddy. He was fantastic to work with. It's important to get great actors," said Lasseter, adding that the actor inspired his character.

The executive continues his tour across mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan to promote Disney's Zootopia and Moana, and Pixar's Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur and Finding Dory. He said that Disney-Pixar will continue to be a strong, filmmaker-driven studio that produces "stories from the heart" while also showcasing groundbreaking technology that combines the ideals of both 2D and 3D animated visuals.

Oct. 21, 10:28 p.m. A previous version of this story included Disney's upcoming Giants in the presentation. The film had been reported to be part of the lineup showcase, according to Sony Pictures Releasing Walt Disney Studios Korea, but was excluded. THR regrets the error.

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