In an effort to give the Rapunzel story a more contemporary feel, Catmull and Lasseter pushed the reset button in 2008 and brought in a new directing duo who had both worked on Disney's animated movie "Bolt." The Rapunzel film underwent a "total restart," Catmull said: All the prior work was scrapped and the movie was reconceived as a musical with five songs by Disney's veteran, multiple-Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken.
The only surviving elements, Catmull said, were "the hair, the tower and Rapunzel."
Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard blended the hallmarks of the classic Disney tale — including sweeping musical numbers and a happily-ever-after ending — with fast-paced action and witty banter associated with more modern animated films.
"If we were told we would one day grow up and direct the 50th animated feature from Disney, it would blow our minds. It's such a great honor," Greno said. "At the same time, it comes with some challenges.... We love classic Disney, but we wanted to invent fresh, new and exciting ideas."
For example, instead of the requisite prince, the directors designed the romantic male lead as a wise-cracking thief who mixes it up with bandits and beer-swilling thugs. The villain, Mother Gothel, isn't the enchantress of the Grimm tale. She's an incarnation of "Mommie Dearest."