Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two High Flyers' 70th Birthdays

It's late, and I'm punchy, so I'm at a mental place where I magically discover patterns where they're aren't any. Nevertheless, it's the 70th anniversary of one cartoon character that marked the end of one famous animation studio. ...

... Sept. 26 marks the 70th anniversary of the first — and arguably the best — screen version of the Man of Steel: Max and Dave Fleischer’s animated shorts.

... Dave Fleischer recalled: “I didn’t want to make ‘Superman.’ Paramount wanted it. I told them because it was too expensive, they wouldn’t make any money back on it. The average short cost nine or ten thousand dollars, some ran up to fifteen. I couldn’t figure how to make ‘Superman’ look right without spending a lot of money. I told them they’d have to spend $90,000 on each one … [and] they spent the $90,000. But they were great.” ...

Unfortunately, the feature Mr. Bug Goes to Town, made at the same studio at the same time, crashed and burned at the box office a couple of months later. And that, sadly, was finito for the Fleischers' Miami facility.

... But happily, at almost the same moment on the other side of the continent, a second flying cartoon character had the opposite effect on Mr. Disney's Burbank studio:

... Dumbo was the most financially successful Disney film of the 1940s. After its October 23, [1941] release, Dumbo proved to be a financial miracle compared to other Disney films. The simple film only cost $813,000 to produce, half the cost of Snow White, less than a third of the cost of Pinocchio, and certainly less than the expensive Fantasia. Dumbo eventually grossed $1.6 million during its original release; it and Snow White were the only two pre-1943 Disney features to turn a profit. ....

Unlike Supe and the Fleischer Brothers, the small flying elephant saved Disney from extinction. (All the war contracts that soon followed were also a help in keeping Walt's studio gates open.) And today, of course, Diz Co. is one of our finest entertainment conglomerates*, right up there with Time-Warner and News Corp.

Sometimes the right cartoon character at an opportune time does make a difference.

* Like any good conglomerate, Diz Co. knows how to maximize the money streams on its copyrighted products. The Mouse is now releasing the little elephant in a splendid new Blu Ray presentation. You'll want to purchase your silver disk today! Or most certainly tomorrow.


TotalD said...

Superman is still my favorite today.

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