Friday, March 03, 2006

Toon Costs #3 - "Pinocchio" Big Budget Granddaddy

'Pinocchio,' Disney’s second animated feature, was the most costly of the pre-war crop. Its final budget was $2,600,000. Its domestic gross was $3,634,000, a bitter letdown after the boffo box office of 'Snow White.' (Why the big drop? Well, 'Pinocchio' wasn’t done in time for the ’39 holiday season, coming out in early ’40. 'Gulliver’s Travels' from Fleischer was the big Christmas release.) You think about it, 'Pinoke' was, dollars per minute, the most expensive flick of its time. 'Gone With The Wind,' released two months before, cost four and a quarter million, but it was fifteen minutes shy of four hours, while 'Pinocchio' was eighty-five minutes. Do the math. One reason for the high cost was that the picture was labor-intensive. “There were twenty-two different color ink lines on Jiminy Cricket alone,” remembered background artist Claude Coats. Complex multi-plane shots in the early sequences cost more than $250,000. They grew so expensive that Disney finally ordered a halt. "In those big down shots of the town near the beginning," said Ken Anderson, “Charles Phillippi, the head of layout, wanted an eagle’s eye view of the town. To get the amount of detail that was needed, the scene was painted six feet high and six feet long…” What would 'Pinocchio' cost today? Hard to tell. But let’s figure a total budget well north of $100 million.


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