Friday, March 03, 2006

Toon Costs #2: "Golden Age" Animation Budgets

The costs of Disney's pre-war animated features varied widely. 'Snow White,' produced in 1937, cost $1,488,000. (Big budget live action from the same time? 'The Adventures of Robin Hood,' costing $2 million.) 'Snow White' was the basket into which Walt Disney placed all of his eggs. Had 'SW' crashed and burned, it would have ended Walt Disney Productions. But it turned out to be a smash hit, raking in $8,538,000 -- a U.S. domestic box office record until a small film entitled 'Gone With the Wind' was released two years later. (No fair counting 'Birth of a Nation' grosses. Since it was sold to independent distributors state by state, nobody knows what the film's total earnings were.) 'Fantasia,' released in November 1940, cost $2,280,000 and grossed $4,319,000. 'Dumbo' cost a mere $800,000 (it was done quickly and with the Disney shorts units). The little elephant took in $2,658,000 at America's neighborhood Bijous. 'Bambi,' the last Disney pre-WWII feature, cost $1,750,000 and grossed $3,461,000 domestic. Believe it or not, 'Bambi' was the first feature into development after 'Snow White.' But the most expensive early feature?


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