In the wake of a devastating accident or natural disaster, we often seek to determine the cause, in the hopes of preventing further tragedy. With that in mind, here is the transcript of the pitch meeting for Maleficent (which we obtained because a buddy of ours at the NSA owed us a favor):

DISNEY PRODUCER: Gentlemen, I have an idea that will put Disney back at the top of America's hearts and minds and wallets!
DISNEY EXEC #1: [Putting on his Mickey Mouse hat.] We're all ears!
DISNEY EXEC #2: That stopped being funny a decade ago, Ted.
DISNEY PRODUCER: The Disney company excels in many fields, but what would you say is the thing we are very best at?
DISNEY EXEC #3: Producing animated coming-out metaphors?
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Financing Johnny Depp's scarf habit?
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #3: Cannibalizing our own products?
DISNEY PRODUCER: Yes! Exactly! And there's a new trend now, where people like to see familiar stories from different points of view. There's that musical, Wicked. And we made those live-action 101 Dalmatians movies that emphasized Cruella de Vil. And there was that film Mirror Mirror, about the evil queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Yes!
DISNEY EXEC #2: Green light!
DISNEY EXEC #3: Let's make all of those movies!
DISNEY PRODUCER: Well, we can't make those movies, but I've got an idea for another one. Who's everyone's favorite Disney villain?
DISNEY EXEC #1: Cruella de Vil!
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Snow White's evil queen!
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #3: Wicked!
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Ursula the sea witch!
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Cinderella's stepmother!
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #3: The whale in Pinocchio!
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Scar, Gaston, Jafar.
DISNEY PRODUCER: All good guesses, but no. Think classic Disney.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Captain Hook!
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #3: The hunters in Bambi.
DISNEY PRODUCER: No.
DISNEY EXEC #1: British imperialism in The Jungle Book.
DISNEY PRODUCER: What? No. Gentlemen, everyone's favorite Disney villain is ... MALEFICENT.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Beg pardon?
DISNEY EXEC #3: Whom?
DISNEY EXEC #1: Malephalant?
DISNEY PRODUCER: Maleficent! The dark witch from Sleeping Beauty!
DISNEY EXEC #2: Oh, yeah. Sleeping Beauty.
DISNEY EXEC #3: I always forget that one.
DISNEY EXEC #1: That was ours?
DISNEY PRODUCER: What if we retold that story from Maleficent's point of viewexplained how she became evil, why she cursed that poor baby, what her deal was with spinning wheels, etc.?
DISNEY EXEC #2: Based strictly on how much people have loved other prequels that over-explained villains' backstories, ruining their mystique and depriving them of their power to scare us, I'd say this idea's a winner!
DISNEY EXEC #3: Audiences love nothing more than seeing all the magic sucked out of something.
DISNEY EXEC #1: But what can you possibly tell us about Maleficent that would justify her putting a deadly curse on a newborn? That is some fudged-up shiz.
DISNEY PRODUCER: Well, it turns out that years ago, the king was her boyfriend, but then he betrayed her, drugged her, and cut off her wings while she slept.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Ha ha, come on!
DISNEY EXEC #2: That's gross!
DISNEY EXEC #3: We can't put a date rape allegory in a children's film!
DISNEY PRODUCER: Sure, sure. Butnow stay with me herewhat if we did?
DISNEY EXEC #1: Hmm.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Interesting.
DISNEY EXEC #3: I see your point.
DISNEY PRODUCER: Of course, to make it all fit with the story children are familiar with, we'll have to, you know, change it entirely.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Obviously.
DISNEY EXEC #2: We owe it to them.
DISNEY EXEC #3: The only thing audiences love more than seeing the magic sucked out of something is being told that a story they love didn't happen after all.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Like what about the part near the end of Sleeping Beauty, when Maleficent turns into a dragon and screams, "Now shall you deal with ME, oh princeand all the powers of HELL!"?
DISNEY EXEC #2: We can't have a Disney heroine summoning the powers of hell.
DISNEY EXEC #3: Walt was always very strict about that.
DISNEY PRODUCER: Not to worry. In the new version, Maleficent is Sleeping Beauty's friend!
DISNEY EXEC #2: Friend? Like, they play and romp in the forest?
DISNEY PRODUCER: Yep!
DISNEY EXEC #2: So who curses the baby?
DISNEY PRODUCER: Maleficent does.
DISNEY EXEC #2: And then she becomes friends with the baby she cursed?
DISNEY PRODUCER: Yeah, she changes her mind. Feels SUPER bad about it. She can't reverse the curse, though.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Why not?
DISNEY PRODUCER: I dunno. Obamacare? Look, what difference does it make? The Disney company has never lost money betting that children will watch a movie a hundred times without pondering its details.
DISNEY EXEC #3: So what used to be a story about a crazy witch who curses a baby because she's angry about not being invited to the christening, is now a story about a victimized woman who curses a baby because her ex-boyfriend fathered it.
DISNEY PRODUCER: Exactly.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Perfect. It practically writes itself!
DISNEY EXEC #2: It's stupid, but it's the kind of stupid that smells like money.
DISNEY EXEC #3: We can squeeze three or four straight-to-DVD sequels out of this, easy.
DISNEY EXEC #1: Who's going to direct it? It sounds like something Tim Burton would want.
DISNEY EXEC #2: I'm actually surprised our talking about it didn't conjure him here, like a genie.
DISNEY EXEC #3: Something this massive, we probably do want an experienced director.
DISNEY EXEC #1: When you say "experienced director," what I hear is "expensive director."
DISNEY EXEC #2: We're already going to spend way too much on special effects, marketing, and damage control. Can't we get a first-time director who'll work for cheap?
DISNEY PRODUCER: Boy can we! How about the production designer from Tim Burton's unanimously beloved and acclaimed Alice in Wonderland?
DISNEY EXEC #1: Production designer, eh? So even though he hasn't directed any movies, he has at least been nearby when movies were being directed.
DISNEY PRODUCER: Yes. He has been in the vicinity when filmmaking was occurring.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Sounds perfect to me. If the film's good, we look great for finding him, and if it's bad, we can blame him for screwing it up.
DISNEY EXEC #3: It's a win-win situation for everyone!
DISNEY EXEC #1: Except him!
DISNEY EXEC #2: Who are you thinking will play Maleficent? Someone cold and frosty, right?
DISNEY EXEC #3: What about January Jones?
DISNEY PRODUCER: Maybe, but I was hoping to find an actress.
DISNEY EXEC #1: What about Angelina Jolie? She'd be perfect in the role of a dark, weird woman obsessed with other people's babies.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Plus she already knows witchcraft!
DISNEY EXEC #3: I don't know, I heard she's being real picky about the roles she takes.
DISNEY EXEC #2: Yeah, she was saying on Letterman the other night that the only way she'll be in a movie now is if her character has jagged CGI cheekbones and a scene where she's wracked with sobs because someone violated her while she slept.
DISNEY PRODUCER: Well, gentlemen, I've got great news...

Eric D. Snider is a freelance film journalist and comedy writer. He tweets here.

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