10 Animated Films That Underwent Big Mid-Production Changes
The Black Cauldron
...The film was already in the works when Jeffrey Katzenberg - who now heads up DreamWorks Animation - was appointed studio head in 1984. It was already shaping up to be the most expensive animated movie of all time, and yet Katzenberg didn't like what he saw. The film has, even in its released version, a far more sinister edge than most Disney material (that's some understatement), and with its release planned for 1985, Katzenberg ordered some hefty cuts to be made to the film.
Among the excised material was much of the undead Cauldron Born, a partially naked Princess Eilonwy, and the slaying of people with a magic sword. ...
Nakedness and dead people were the least of the problems.
Vance Gerry, one of the great Disney story artists, created wonderful early storyboards for the Cauldron, but the directors and producer decided to go in a different, darker direction and the picture took an unhappy turn. (Find details here). The young story crew that started the picture was, sequence by sequence, removed from the picture, and replaced with another more to producer Joe Hale's liking.
But this sort of thing is old news in the movie business. First ... or second ... or third story passes often fail to make it to the screen. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes not. What's important to keep in mind, particularly when reading the above: there have been few big-budget animated features that didn't go through wrenching alterations during the course of production, from Pinocchio and Snow White straight through to today. (Good Dinosaur had big changes? Well hey. So did the cartoon version of The Jungle Book. Story artist Bill Peet wanted JB to go one direction, Walt Disney wanted another. Walt won.)
What I would like to see is some first-hand, no-holds-barred accounts of what really went on in various story sessions. Sadly, for a lot of features made far back in the twentieth century, the true and gritty stories of their creation are now lost.