How The Great Mouse Detective Saved Disney Animation | Pretty Reel

Disney was founded in 1923 as Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, which was later changed to Walt Disney Studio in 1926. That wasn’t the only name change; in 1929 there was another name change to Walt Disney Productions. Over the next few years, the company entered the production of animated feature films and underwent a major corporate restructuring. This led to another name change, The Walt Disney Company, referring to the parent company and Walt Disney Feature Animation, representing the animation studio.

This was mainly done to separate the studio from other departments in the company. In 2007, the name of the studio was changed to Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) after Disney acquired Pixar, the name it bears to this day. Although Disney is currently considered an international media conglomerate, believe it or not, there was a particular moment in history when the studio’s animated feature almost went under.

How Disney (The Animation Studio) Almost Died

Pictures of Walt Disney

In the early years after its inception, Disney devoted itself to producing short films, including Alice Comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. It wasn’t until 1934 that Disney planned to make its first animated feature, and perhaps significant trouble began. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first feature film, which was a success. However, Disney used the profits from Snow White to build a bigger business, add staff, and greenlight other animated features.

Two of the greenlit star films, Pinocchio (1940) and Fantasia (1940), flopped, leading the company into debt the following year. Disney was forced to look for new revenue streams and make changes to survive. The company stopped producing feature films and returned to short films. When that didn’t work out, he stopped producing shorts and made feature films; basically, which seemed to keep the company going and was very well received by critics and audiences at the time. Walt Disney began to focus on new ventures like live-action films, television, and the Disneyland theme park, which caused delays in film development and release.

Although he stayed afloat and had several successful films, Disney made a loss in fiscal 1960, resulting in a massive layoff. Walt Disney then died in 1966, and his brother, Roy O. Disney, followed in 1971, leaving the company in the hands of Esmond Card Walker and Donn B. Tatum. New animators, including Don Bluth, replaced the retiring team but left after feeling a stagnation in animation development at Disney. They started Don Bluth Productions, which became Disney’s competitor in the 80s.

Over the next few years, Disney fired most of the remaining new animators for acting against the company’s wishes, but the worst was yet to come. In 1985, the company released The Black Cauldron, spending around $44 million. The film became a box office bomb, grossing $21 million, putting Disney’s future in jeopardy.

How the Great Mouse Detective Saved Disney

Pictures of Walt Disney

After making the massive loss of The Black Cauldron, several hostile corporate takeover attempts were made, but Roy E. Disney launched a campaign to save the company. Michael Eisner has been named the new CEO and Frank Wells the new president. Since the company had already begun to focus on live-action, television, and theme park production, Eisner deliberated to end Disney’s feature animation department to outsource future animation. .

Roy E. Disney stepped in and was named chairman of the feature animation department by Eisner. Roy E. Disney then appointed Peter Schneider president of animation to handle day-to-day operations. In 1985, the animation division was moved to various warehouses and hangers, where The Great Mouse Detective was made and debuted in 1986, grossing around $50 million worldwide against a budget of $14 million. .

This reassures the new management of Disney and gives them confidence in the feasibility of their animation department. Had The Great Mouse Detective followed the steps of its predecessor, chances are Eisner would have ended Disney’s animation department. Fortunately, Roy E. Disney was there to defend him.

This then led to the “Disney Renaissance”, the period when feature animation reverted to the development and production of successful animated films, including but not limited to The Little Mermaid (1989 ), The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and Aladdin (1992).

What happens in The Great Mouse Detective?

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Directed and produced by Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, John Musker and Dave Michener, The Great Mouse Detective is based on the Basil of Baker Street children’s book series written by Eve Titus and illustrated by Paul Galdone.

It tells the story of famous Baker Street detective Great Mouse Basil (Barrie Ingham), who is on a mission to catch the criminal mastermind, Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price). Basil is heavily inspired by Sherlock Holmes, the fictional detective invented by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The idea to create it was first floated during the production of The Rescuers (1977). It was introduced to Miller in 1982, and he approved it as an alternate project because some animators didn’t like the direction The Black Cauldron was taking.

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How The Great Mouse Detective Saved Disney Animation | Pretty Reel

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