Jan 29, 1959- Disney's " SLEEPING BEAUTY " opened. Despite earning the fifth highest box office for that year, it finished $5 million behind what it cost to make. Beautiful work by Eyvind Earl and Marc Davis magnificent Maleificent The animation staff had swollen to it's largest to finish the production. It’s disappointing box office soured Walt Disney on feature animation. Meantime the cheap live action film The Shaggy Dog was a huge hit. After the film was finished the studio had a massive layoff, dropping from 551 to just 75. Staff level will not return to these same levels until 1990. ...
Sleeping Beauty was in work a long time. My father, accompanied by wife and children, went off to Europe for a year to paint and sketch while the picture was deep in development. He came back seventeen months before the feature was released and still had time to paint a lot of the picture's backgrounds (along with Eyvind Earle, Al Dempster, Walt Peregoy, Anthony Rizzo, Frank Armitage, Bill Layne, Dick Thomas, Fil Mottola and Thelma Witmer)
As Tom notes, the Disney staff took a huge hit after the picture wrapped. (Walt had already shuttered the commercials unit and the shorts unit.) A much-reduced staff went on to create the well-received, much less expensive and very profitable !01 Dalmatians.