Don Bluth Kickstarter: Animation Legend Talks Dragon's Lair Movie And The Revival Of Traditional Animation

The Kickstarter for Dragon's Lair from animation legend Don Bluth is now live
The Kickstarter for Dragon's Lair from animation legend Don Bluth is now live Kickstarter

Since its inception, Kickstarer has help companies launch games and make movies, and even a potato salad can earn way more than it should. That's why it is a logical choice for Don Bluth to turn to when thinking about a potential Dragon's Lair animated movie.

If you are unfamiliar with Don Bluth by name, you are almost certainly familiar with his work. He started as an animator for Walt Disney (working on such classics as Sleeping Beauty and Robin Hood), and would go on to create his own studio and direct his own movies. These films include the darkly animated The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time and the hit musical Anastasia. Along the way, Bluth also helped create the cult arcade game hit Dragon's Lair, with its signature graphics animated by Bluth himself.

Due to the success of the arcade game, fans began to wonder why there was no full-length Dragon's Lair movie. The reason why it wasn't made sooner is due to a long series of personal and technological changes over the past few decades. With the rise in computers, traditional animated movies have gone by the wayside in favor of CG flicks from Pixar and other studios. Even 2D cartoons are still made using computers instead of ink on paper.

A complete play-through of the Dragon's Lair​ arcade game.

"We've been wanting to do this movie for several years," Bluth told iDigitalTimes.

The biggest hold-up for Bluth was wondering if anyone else was interested. That's one of the biggest reasons Bluth and his business partner Gary Goldman went to Kickstarter: to see if there is interest in a Dragon's Lair movie. From there, Bluth will need a script and an animation sample.

"It takes $70 Million to fund the production of an animated movie," Bluth said. "We obviously aren't looking to get that all through Kickstarter, so first we will need a dynamite script and a look at what Dragon's Lair will look like on screen. We'll fund that first, and take it from there."

That's one of the big differences between this Kickstarter and others. While backing it could result in Dragon's Lair getting made, it doesn't guarantee it. The funds raised will be used to find a writer for the script, and to animate roughly a minute of the script.

"You have the script in one hand and the animation sample in the other. You say here's the movie and here's what it will look like," said Bluth when talking about what to do once the project is complete.

Going through non-traditional channels like Kickstart isn't easy, even for an expert like Bluth. Even something as simple as promoting the Kickstarter campaign is something new.

"Making the movie is the easiest part for me," Bluth said.

When it comes time to actually make the movie, there will be a heavy focus on traditional hand-drawn animation. This doesn't mean computers will be completely absent, however.

"When we were doing strictly traditional animation years ago, when computers weren't there, it was much harder," Bluth said. "Sometimes your pencil is so big, you can't draw a tiny little thing on a piece of paper."

That's where computers come in. If these technologies existed in the hey-day of Disney, Bluth knows those animators would have used them as well.

"Nowadays it's the type of world where we can build a set and get a camera to move around the set, even in a 2D world," he said.

The ultimate goal is to make a movie that keeps the feel of the original arcade game.

"If we go full CG, it will not deliver the look that people want," he said. "I love the feel of a pencil in hand and drawing on paper. That first rush of drawing the characters and bringing them to life, I think, is the key to the whole thing."

As for who will star in Dragon's Lair as the iconic Dirk the Daring or Princess Daphne, Bluth says a script is needed before names can be mentioned.

"We have a few people in mind who might be good for Dirk, but it's too early to tell," Bluth said. "The script is needed to really give the right voice. I could namedrop, but I don't think that will do us any good."

Movies can live or die based on who acts in them, and Bluth knows getting the right person for the job is super important.

"The voices help sell the story, so you have to act very carefully when selecting who to cast," Bluth said. "The movie will only be as strong as your villain factor."

When asked about the legacy of Dragon's Lair, Bluth was surprised his game has managed to stand the test of time and remain a fan favorite.

"I couldn't even beat Dragon's Lair when it was made," Bluth said. "I knew all of the right moves to make, but I could never get through it."

To help support the Dragon's Lair movie, head over to the Kickstarter page and donate right now. There are only a few days left, so don't delay!

So what do you think? Are you interested in seeing a Dragon's Lair movie get made? What are your opinions on traditional animation versus computer animation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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