Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Twenty Years Ago This Day ...

Disney's Pocahantas premiered in New York's Central Park.

John Culhane, animator Duncan Marjoribanks, Ian Marjoribanks, animator/story artist/supervisor Tom Sito, Michael Culhane in Central Park

Tom Sito notes:

June 10, 1995- 110,000 people picnic in Central Park NY to see the premiere of Walt Disney's Pocahontas. The largest audience up until then to ever attend an animated movie premiere. ...

It was the best of times: Pocahontas was another animated hit for Disney (though not as big as the previous year's Lion King) and the worst of times: Jeffrey Katzenberg, the executive behind Disney animation's resurgence, had been tossed overboard by Diz Co. chief Michael Eisner the previous summer; he was just then assembling a new studio with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.

And the Walt Disney Company, as it turned out, was at the peak of its 1990s power, at the start of a long slide that would end in Michael Eisner's departure and Robert Iger's ascension a decade later. Disney Animation would have a few more hits (Tarzan would gross $171 million domestic and $277 million overseas, making it the sixth highest grosser of 1999), but the glory days ended after Frank Wells was killed and Katzenberg was let go.

Happily, there are no permanent defeats, and today Walt Disney Animation Studios is back on top, the creator of a new string of hits, including the highest grossing animated feature of all time.


Dan Siciliano said...

Some people, including me, like the film for its music and colorful look. But, the story is kinda weak. I wished that they could've sticked to their original concepts, like having the human characters bit a little bit more cartoony and the animals having voices. In fact, it would've been a last hurrah for John Candy, who was supposed to voice Pocahontas' original sidekick, the turkey Red Feather.

But, no. I think the real reason why "Pocahontas" didn't do big as "Lion King" was Jeffery Katzenberg. I think the reason why he wanted to make this film a bit more serious was because I think once "Beauty and the Beast" was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to "Silence of the Lambs", I think he felt that the cartooniness of the film made the Oscar voters vote on "Silence" over "Beauty". Well, after he tried to put that "adult tone" in, it's more mixed. The same can be said for "Prince of Egypt". Interview any Disney animator who has worked on this film and perhaps they'll tell you, according to Mike Gabriel on the DVD commentary, this was not a fun film to work on. Because even though it was handled with creative care, it was very demanding, thanks to Jeffery.

Steve Hulett said...

Jeffrey can be a demanding guy.

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