(Update 5/25/2011: The latest on this story can be found here.)
In the seemingly never ending saga of Walt Disney Imagineering vs. Norway there’s another bit of information that has found its way out into the light of day. In an attempt to replace the woefully outdated film after the ride in the Norway pavilion attraction at Epcot, the marketing/tourism division of Norway (Innovasjon Norge) produced a promotional film Norway: Powered by Nature. It was submitted it to Imagineering to be re-cut to fit into the post show – both in time constraints and theme.
Instead, WDI flatly rejected the film and declared it below their quality standards. This would be well and good, assuming the alternative wasn’t to keep running the old film in theater, but sadly that’s exactly what has happened. Disney keeps on insisting that the country of Norway pay for upgrades to their pavilion- lest the country continue to be represented by outdated technology and styles or worse, replaced by another country pavilion entirely. Not only that, but WDI wants Norway to pay Disney above and beyond what the normal production of such a short film would cost Norway to produce the film itself. As the submission attempt has shown, Disney will not approve a film to be shown in the pavilion created outside of WDI.
Was the film really that bad? You can judge for yourself. It’s a longer-form travelogue then the pavilion’s post show would need, so substantial cutting and editing would be needed. Our personal opinion? A few days worth of work and the pavilion would have had a fresh and shiny new film. There’s plenty of good quality footage in the reel to make it salvageable for a 5-7 minute post-show presentation. If fact, we bet a few folks who are good with editing software at the various Disney blogs could edit a decent 5:00 cut from the 11:30 film in less then a day.
This entire fiasco has spurred a grassroots movement in Norway to salvage their pavilion while Disney and government fight over funding. If you want to help, you can join their Facebook page Norway in Epcot – we need your help (translated from: “Norge i Epcot – vi trenger din hjelp” – fair warning, the site is primarily in Norwegian) and write to Disney urging them to stop stalling and posturing for a better price while the pavilion gets further and further outdated. Epcot should be a point of pride for the company, not a bargaining tool to wield.