The new documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty reminds us that Tim Burton used to be an artist for Disney back in the early 1980s. The unmentioned irony, though, is that Burton left over stylistic differences and became one of America's most well-known living filmmakers, only to now be in full cahoots with the studio once again. Last night, news came that Burton's buddy Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) has also made a deal to work fully with the Mouse House again. He had been an animator there in the '70s and '80s, and later his first two stop-motion features were distributed by Disney, but this is a much bigger comeback, with him set to helm stop-motion works exclusively under the Pixar brand.
Whether they also left around the time before the Disney Animation renaissance or more recently, the following animators should also be brought back in order for the studio to really have a lock down on the animated feature market.
Don Bluth - He was a pretty big deal at Disney through the '60s and '70s, and so it was particularly unfortunate to the studio when he quit, taking a number of his favorite co-workers with him, to form his own production company. He went on to make some of the most successful animated films of the '80s through a partnership with producer Steven Spielberg, most of which (An American Tail; The Land Before Time) eclipsed Disney's features from the same period. But Bluth hit a huge downslope after discontinuing his relationship with Spielberg, and even an initially promising deal with Fox Animation ultimately fell short. He hasn't done anything full-length in ten years, since bombing with Titan A.E. Some of this could be that he's now in his 70s, yet he's not exactly retired and continues to do short works. Having left 30 years ago because Disney's films had "lost their charm," perhaps he'd be willing to come back to the new, improved Disney Animation for at least one last masterpiece?