Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Twenty-Eight Years Ago ...


July 2, 1986*- Walt Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective released in theaters .The Big Ben clockworks finale was seen as a great step forward in computer animation. ...

I remember animator Phil Nibbelink working manfully on the clockwork sequence for months on end. Although the gears were computer animated, the end-product was painted in the same way that Snow White was painted: a dedicated crew in Disney's ink-and-paint department bent over their desks and colored all the computer-generated gears with brushes and gum-based paint.

Mouse Detective grossed $25,336,794 during its first theatrical run (it cost $12 million to produce before Diz Co. tacked an extra $500,000 in Oliver and Co. development costs onto its production budget) so it probably made little or no profit during its initial run. It accumulated another $13,288,756 when it was re-released in 1992.

Besides the early use of CG animation, the picture was notable for being the first animated feature directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who would go on to direct The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet and The Princess and the Frog. The two are now at work on The Disney animated feature Moana.

* Box Office Mojo gives the movie's release date as July 4th.

H/t Tom Sito


12 comments:

LeDidole said...

Er... 28 years ago...

One of my preferred Disney. It has its flaws but it was quite entertaining !

David said...

Not 38 years ago , 28 years ago . C'mon , Steve, don't make those of us from that generation of animators feel any older than we are ! ;) (it only feels like we're 10 years older ...)

Darrel said...

Yeah! LOL! For a second there I thought my math was off.

Harold Buchman said...

That chase inside Big Ben was a nice homage to the clock tower sequence in Miyazaki's "Castle of Cagliostro" (1979)

Steve Hulett said...

The header has now been corrected.

I was always weak at math ...

Jeremy Darensbourg said...

Question Steve: What film was more profitable for Disney at it's time: 1977's The Rescuers or 1981's The Fox & the Hound? I don't believe that The Rescuers had only a $1.2 million budget that some claim. Would like to know your take on this.

Floyd Norman said...

I first met Jeffrey Katzenberg at the "Mouse Detective" wrap party. It happened at the famous Mickey Avenue sign on the Disney Studio lot. I had a gut feeling that Disney Animation was now on a roll, and a series of hit films would follow. Animation did just that.

David said...

Jeremy, you wrote:

” I don't believe that The Rescuers had only a $1.2 million budget that some claim.”

Who claims that ?

Have you read Steve’s memoirs about Disney in the ’70’s ? - - -

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/untold-tales/mouse-in-transition-larry-clemmons-chapter-2-100054.html

He recalls Woolie having a meeting after The Rescuers , very concerned about holding down the budgets . The quote from Woolie:

”Guys, The Rescuers is done now, but it cost seven and a half million dollars. Seven and a half MILLION dollars. We can’t go on spending that kind of money on these things, we just can’t. We gotta find ways to do them cheaper.”

Jeremy Darensbourg said...

I've seen The Rescuers $1.2 million budget claim on The rescuers Winkipedia page & IMDB Rescuers page.

I just new that The Rescuers had a bigger budget.

Steve Hulett said...

Woolie Reitherman told us in a meeting in 1977 that "The Rescuers" cost $7.5 million and that Disney animated features were getting too expensive and we had to do them for less money.

"The Fox and the Hound" cost $12 million and grossed a couple of million more than "The Rescuers." I remember it making $52 or $53 million during its initial run, but Box Office Mojo says $63,456,988 is the total take.

So, short of pawing through Disney's books, I don't know WHICH set of numbers is the right one. Let's just say that both "The Rescuers" and "The Fox and the Hound" made the studio money.

Jeremy Darensbourg said...

According to Boxoffice Mojo: The Rescuers made $29 million in '77. Then it had 2 Re-issues "one in Dec. 1983 & Mar. 1989". Both re-issues brought in $21 million.

The Fox & the Hound made $39.9 million in '81 & had 1 Re-issue "Mar. 1988" were it grossed over $23 million.

Both these films held their own at the Box Office during the summers of '77 & '81. And at that time the original Star Wars & Raiders of the lost Ark were only a month in release too. All this during the so called "Dark Age" of Disney Animation. I don't see this as Disney Animation's dark age cause the only film from The Aristocats to Oliver & Company to loss money for the studio was The Black Cauldron in '85. Now the early mid 2000s, that was the real dark age for Disney Animation: Treasure Planet's $74 million write-off, Home on the Range & Chicken Little. 2D Animation's decline. They should do a follow up to "Waking Sleeping Beauty" about the studio's decline in the 2000s. Thanks for the info Steve.

Steve Hulett said...

Both "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Rescuers" did well overseas.

"The Rescuers" pace "Star Wars's" grosses in Germany the year of release (1977).

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