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Disney’s Tangled Rapunzel Name Change

Disney: It’s not for boys.

It emerged earlier in the week that Disney changed the name of their next almost-conventionally-animated movie from Rapunzel, which makes sense, to Tangled, which doesn’t. People were a little confused, since Disney has traditionally been fairly straightforward in making its adaptations – Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Princess and the Frog, Snow White, The Little Mermaid and so on are all named for the myths and stories which form their basis. Why the sudden name change? Apparently because boys won’t go to see Disney movies. Apparently they are more likely to go and see a movie called Tangled.

All tangled up...

The basis of this marketing decision seems to come from the under-performance of The Princess and the Frog with the (very) young male audience and Disney’s conclusion that the word ‘princess’ was the problem. I really hope Disney didn’t pay some snake oil salesman millions for that insight. Anyway, having identified the problem, Disney have decided to remedy it. Because that’s what dynamic companies do. My inner voice tells me not to mock this decision too heartily, as Disney are nothing if shrewd marketeers, but I’m just going to role with it.

The only male audience put off by The Princess and the Frog is the pre-teenage ones. People my age are smart enough to be able to, y’know, watch movies with female lead characters and teenagers are smart enough to realise that this is probably a safer date movie than Chainsaw Massacre 3D: The Chainsaw-ening or whatever generic action or horror movies are in multiplexes. They will see it because they are so shallow that they assume their dates want to see it. And, being honest, a lot of them will enjoy it. If anyone is put off by a female lead character, it’s the boys around eight years old. And a name change isn’t going to fool them – they’re young, but most of them aren’t stupid.

But why does Disney care what eight-year-old boys think? The answer is money, but Disney has already taken care of than. Between flooding the market with slight-more-male-friend anthropomorphic animals (like the abysmal G-Force) and the much shrewder move of buying Marvel, Disney have the young male audience. If we’re working off the sexist assumption that they don’t like princesses, let’s also work on the equally sexist assumption they like gadgets and gizmos and explosions. These kids will swarm to Iron Man 2 later this year. There’s no major loss here.

Let’s assume Disney should care, for whatever reason. Maybe they just want to make their movies more inclusive or some nonsense. Does a title change fool anyone? Everyone knows the story of Rapunzel and that she is a long-haired princess in a tall tower. Unless Disney run the most ambiguous and positively David-Lynch-ian advertising and poster campaign know to man, boys will identify Tangled as a Rapunzel movie and you’re back to square one.

Even if they don’t, Tangled is hardly the most ridiculously macho title, right? It doesn’t scream testosterone in the same way Super Killer Death Machine does or Ninjas vs. Aliens would. Okay, I’m kidding, but it’s hardly Star Wars or Iron Man. It actually sounds like the other Kristen Chenoweth revisionist project, Wicked (which is a re-imagined version of The Wizard of Oz). What kind of stereotypical pre-pubescent kid wants to queue up to see a movie named after a hair complaint. It’s like retitling Sleeping Beauty as Price Charming – it doesn’t make the movie more ‘male-friendly’, it just makes it more obscure.

Disney and Pixar animator Floyd Norman suggests another boy-friendly move for the movie...

If we assume they are right and there is a problem, should they really be pandering to it? Surely the message should be that Disney isn’t embarrassed to feature leading ladies, right? That they aren’t ashamed of their roots and that they trust this old fashioned storytelling? Surely the problem is with the people who won’t go to see a movie because it features a female lead character? Doesn’t this retroactively invalidate a large quantity of Disney’s back catalog?

I was quite excited about Rapunzel. The Princess and the Frog was an updated version of a fairytale, and it was grand, but I was waiting for a classically-told story in the style of the early Disney movies. Something that didn’t feel the need to be hip or modern or revisionist, but could simply tell a straight-forward, old-fashioned fairy tale.

I guess we can scratch that now.

19 Responses

  1. Damn I still Kristin C was in this, and Tangled sounds like some horrid Aniston romantic comedy or something. Stupid, stupid.

  2. I still WISH Kristin was in it.

    …That’s it, I’m going to bed.

  3. Yeah they switched her up for Mandy Moore, who I have nothing against but…eh. I’m not too hot on this story anyway unless she’s having a part in Sondheim’s Into the Woods which is essentially the best re-imagining of fairytales – EVER.

  4. I find that title, “Tangled,” disrespectful to not only the Grimm Brother’s title, but to Walt Disney as well. Because that is not what Walt Disney would do when he adapts fairy tales into animated movies. Just because fairy tales that have girlish titles does NOT make it a girlish story. Those people, who complain about fairy tale titles being too girlish, need to understand that those story titles being too girlish happens to be written by MEN before we are even born. Also, they need to understand that they do not write stories just for girls or boys, they write for families to enjoy, learn, and love. I even love the title logo that Disney created for “Rapunzel,” and now they want to change it to “Tangled?” That title does not make any sense, and it is misleading. If they ever do change the title from “Rapunzel” to “Tangled,” I would find Disney’s next CG movie a flop. But, if they leave the title, “Rapunzel,” the way it is, and the title logo that Disney created, then I would have high confidence that Disney’s next CG movie could be a huge success. So I say to Disney, “In the name of Floyd Norman, a retired Disney and Pixar animator, and Walt Disney’s ghost, I demand that you change that dreadful title back to “Rapunzel” at once, or else you will all become a disgrace to Walt Disney forever. And you will fall to DreamWorks Animation forever more.” Those boys need to “Dig a Little Deeper (according to the song from “The Princess and the Frog”)” on the synopsis and accept the title that is girlish. And besides, Disney arranges the synopsis to make fairy tales more interesting than typical, to make it more FAMILY like even though it has girlish titles. However, some stories with girlish titles may have girlish stories, IF Disney made it girlish. But through Disney’s experience, they make fairy tales FAMILY type as always, and that is what makes Disney the best, and forever the legacy. Anyways, since they are going to adapt a Grimm fairy tale into a movie, why not just leave the title the way it is, and just arrange the synopsis? Like I said, those boys need to get used of the title that is written, like Tim Burton’s, “Alice in Wonderland.” Plus, I have no problem with “The Princess and the Frog,” I give that movie infinite A+, especially when Dr. Facilier is a fun villain, evil, but fun.

    I understand why they called it “Tangled.” Not just to get the boys well entertained, but there are scenes in the synopsis that have created an example of the word “tangled,” such as the bandit, named Flynn Rider, who gets “tangled” with Rapunzel after she made a deal for her freedom. Flynn and Rapunzel’s romance can be “tangled.” Even Rapunzel’s hair can be “tangled” as well famous for her 70-feet of golden hair, or blonde either way.

    I watched the teaser trailer of Disney’s Tangled, it is very cool, but did not show the name of the story. Which means that Disney COULD, but that depends on their version of the story perhaps, change the title back, even though changing the title from “Rapunzel” to “Tangled” is official. However, on the leaked trailer before the teaser trailer that I have watched as well, it has revealed the title based on Disney’s title change. It is really cool, but I do not have the taste buds on the new title that Disney made. In fact, I love the title logo that Disney made for Rapunzel; it is very beautiful, and entertaining. It makes me want to see it so much. But since they changed the title from “Rapunzel” to “Tangled,” perhaps I could see it, but I would find it a flop.

    To tell you the truth, I find that title, “Tangled,” misleading, funny, but misleading. To me it is like watching a parody of Shrek, Hoodwinked, and Happily N’ever After put together. But I understand that Disney is sticking to one fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers. But I am afraid what they are doing is disrespectful to not only the Grimm Brothers, but to Walt Disney as well, because Walt Disney would never change titles on fairy tales. He probably does not care about people like boys who complain about fairy tales with girlish titles being too girlish, the only thing that Disney cares about is not only making dreams come true for FAMILIES by adapting fairy tales into animated movies, but to fulfill famous fairy tale writers who has shaped the world of entertainment for every family around the world.

    Also, those boys need to “Dig a Little Deeper (according to the song from “The Princess and the Frog”),” on the synopsis of fairy tales with girlish titles, because what if Disney arranges the synopsis to make it more interesting than typical? Maybe then, even though fairy tales have girlish titles, but it can have an excellent synopsis for not just girls or boys, but for FAMILIES to enjoy, learn, and love. The only way that fairy tales could be too girlish, including the title, is if the synopsis is too girlish. But through Disney’s experience when it comes to adapting fairy tales into animated movies with girlish titles, they are all FAMILY. That is what makes Disney very special.

    By the way, I have no problem with “The Princess and the Frog,” that I saw. I give that movie infinite A+, especially when Dr. Facilier is a fun villain, evil, but fun. But I can say this, if changing the title is what Disney wants to do to get the boys well entertained along with the girls, it is their movie. But I have a little bit of a bad feeling that their next CG movie could be a flop based on the title change. But if they decided to change the title back to the way it is, then it could be a financial success…I hope.

    One more thing, it is not the title that bothers boys, it is the story itself that is not strong enough. Some times, Disney probably accidentally made the story a little too girlish for “The Princess and the Frog,” than trying to make it a family type, especially when some of the characters that Disney has created, are not receiving enough roles. My advice for Disney is that the next time they want to adapt fairy tales into animated movies, they should try to make the story strong to fit to the title based on the fairy tale, instead of changing the title.

    • Hi Jeff – sounds like you’ve got pretty strong feelings on it. I’m generally in agreement – particularly with the statement that fairy tales certainly aren’t girlish – but I do think we disagree on one point: I think that Dreamworks still pale in comparison to Pixar, because Pixar do do what you say – they make FAMILY movies.

      I certainly agree, though, that we need to see more of that kind of movie-making at the Disney animation studio.

  5. chenoweth, not chenowith

  6. I enjoyed your article and you had some very validating points, but the spelling and grammatical errors killed it. Maybe next time you should read through your rough draft before you post it. It’s hard to take a writer seriously when there are many errors in the transcript.

    • Thanks Melissa. I did a wee bit of tidying there. I’ll concede I’m a fairly crap speller, and making ten posts a week probably doesn’t help. Ah well.

      I need an editor!

    • I would have utilised the commonly-used phrase “valid points”, Melissa, as opposed to “validating points”. Unless you intended to say that the points validated the argument, rather than implying stand-alone validity?

      However, I apologise if I am being incredibly pedantic.

  7. think they should use `Tangled`as a sub-name, kind of like Pirates of the Caribbean: the Black Pearl, that way people would know that there is more to the story then just `Rapunzel,Rapunzel let down your hair`, but at the same time i keeps it`s fairy tale roots and in addition is also respectful to Walt Disney and the Grimm Brothers, like it could be something like `Rapunzel: the tangled years` or `Rapunzel: A tangled tale of epic proportions` or `Rapunzel: prepared to get tangled`

    the options are endless, and in my opinion it`s a very ideal compromise

  8. As a girl who grew up watching disney movies I agree that it is strange that they wouldn’t use the name Rapunzel for the movie. But these days everyone just cares about making money, appealing to both female and male children who’ll beg their parents to see the movie, get the bed sheets, the toys, and even the candy advertising the movie on it. They just want to get as much profit out of it as they can, hence the name Tangled. But when I saw the previews for the movie I noticed it wasn’t the same story as the original Rapunzel, it’s sort of like a spoof. Instead of the guy being a prince coming to Rapunzel’s rescue he’s a wanted man that accidentally goes into Rapuzel’s tower. Her hair also moves on it’s own and holds him down (probably to attract male children). I agree it’s a little disappointing that they changed the name for these reasons but I have to admit that if they kept the name Rapuzel I might’ve been angry that they didn’t follow the original story line of Rapunzel. Although, I still want to see the movie :]

    • Ah, Disney always play fast and loose with the original stories. Sure The Lion King is an adaptation of Hamlet, just Disney-fied. I don’t know, the title just seems too consciously “hip” for me.

  9. I would absolutely love to see a David Lynch take on this. “Rapunzelhead”.
    I’m more or less in agreement with many others, in that I would have liked to have seen the story remain the same in most ways, including the title (,which I love) – However, if a name change in a film adaptation is what is needed to draw in a new audience, then so be it. Many children will have read the tales already, so an alteration in a big screen adaptation doesn’t seem too harmful to me – And those who may not read a princess story may be tricked into it via the film world! Disney seems to think that there are little munchkins running around with stereotypes of well-known fairytales and fairytale characters, so it’ll be interesting to see what this new approach does to bring in the other both the male and female kids who may not have been tempted by the well-known name of the protagonist.
    I, compared to my young school colleagues, enjoyed many years in front of the TV screen with my Hero Turtles, however, to be very honest, I suspect had the cartoon been named “Pink Shelled Princesses”, my female peers would have spent more hours with the turtle team.
    Here’s hoping that none of their new pint-sized demographic see the French version of the posters, “Raiponce”.

  10. One other reason for calling it Tangled rather than Rapunzel – the story seems to vary fairly dramatically from the original, kind of just taking the schtick of a girl with REALLY long hair and schlepping it into a run of the mill kids romantic comedy – a la Aladdin, but from what I’ve seen, without the charm of that movie (which was to a large extent down to Robin William’s mugging).

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