The film's prequel, Planes, eventually earned over four times its production budget, but experts warn that Drones might lack appeal in some international markets.
Ronnie, the hero of Drones, was named after "the great President Ronald Reagan." Ronnie is a skilled but inexperienced young drone whose misgivings about his role in the War on Terror make him so anxious that he botches his first mission, killing several innocent civilians in the process. After that, he must overcome angry protestors at home, irate foreign governments abroad, and his own interior demons in order to defeat the evil plot set in motion by the film's militant villains.
Asid, a boy whose parents are killed when Ronnie's first tactical strike goes awry. At first, he is filled with hate for Ronnie, but eventually, he learns that the terrorist threat posed by the film's villains is even more dangerous than a stray missile. Asid's tearful duet with Ronnie, "Bomb in the Wrong House, Heart in the Right Place," is intended to serve as the film's most emotionally explosive moment.
The film's primary antagonists, Black and White, a pair of terrorist brothers who see the world in terms of moral absolutes. "It's that sort of extremist, nuance-free mentality that regards drones as essentially immoral," says Disney. "Ronnie is gray for a reason."
TRYING REALLY HARD TO FEEL SHOCKED AND CHAGRINED, BURBANK — Apparently, NSA data-collection methods weren't the only thing that Edward Snowden felt obliged to share with the American public. Yesterday, the former government contractor contacted SD on the QT and shared "just a few" of the documents in his possession pertaining to Drones, a proposed feature-film collaboration between the United States government, the Walt Disney Studios, and General Atomics, maker of the Reaper and Predator drones.
"As our recent report to the British Defence Select Committee indicates," reads one email between General Atomics and Disney executives, "the word 'drone' has taken on pejorative connotations. It seems unlikely that the more accurate 'Remotely Piloted Aircraft' will take hold in the public imagination. Therefore, a full rehabilitation of the 'drone' terminology must be implemented. Our research indicates that we will realize the most success in this effort with a 'bottom-up' approach: if young children believe strongly that drones are okay, their exhausted parents are likely to modify their own views, if only to keep peace in the home. And no one is better at telling kids what is and isn't okay than Disney. Pleasure Island, LLC — once the mainstay of General Atomics' unskilled labor force — shut down virtually overnight after the release of Pinocchio. It's time we put Disney's storytelling power to work for Project American Freedom."
"Even our opponents admit that the situation is improving," continues the email. "Drone-related deaths were down nearly 50% in 2013 compared to 2012. We're bombing smarter, not harder. Lots of Disney characters make mistakes early on. Well, so have we. We need to turn our past failures into future victories, and making them into plot points in a $100 million dollar animated musical is a great way to do that."
"Disney has worked with the United States Government before," noted CIA liaison Brian Wash in an early overture to the storied film studio. "From anti-Nazi propaganda like Der Fuhrer's Face to educational films such as the classic anti-malaria short The Winged Scourge, Disney has always stood ready to support American interests overseas. Once again, we are calling on you to help us win the hearts and minds of the very people we are defending."
In a reply, Disney spokesman Viola Teduth wrote, "The Walt Disney company has always understood the unique difficulties that come with having power and authority. It's why we tell so many stories about royalty. So yes, it will be a challenge to make Ronnie relatable, seeing as how he is the deadly emissary of American might in a war-torn, desperate part of the world. But uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, as someone once said. There's the drama: Ronnie isn't sure he wants to be what he's supposed to be — and ultimately, what the world needs him to be. It's Simba all over again. We can do this."
As of press time, no official comment was forthcoming from any of the three organizations. No mention of Drones appears in any of Disney's press materials regarding its 2014 feature film slate.