Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Fifty-Seven Years Ago ..

The October 1960 Peg-Board announced the election of supervising animator Ben Washam as the animation union's new President, with animator Charlie Downs as his Vice-Presidential wingman. There was also this:


UPA's forthcoming animated feature, Gay Purr-ee will be financed and distributed by Warner Brothers, instead of by United Artists.

Henry Saperstein, president of UPA, claimed he was tired of stalling by UA and so negotiated abetter deal with Warners. ... The cartoon's original budget of $700,000 has been raised to a million dollars.

Saperstein reported that Warners wanted to sign UPA to another feature. He refused, since "40,000 drawings have yet to be made on Gay Purr-ee, and since the studio also is committed to produce a one-hour cartoon for television. ...

In retrospect, maybe Mr. Saperstein should have taken the WB up on its offer to bankroll a second feature, because Magoo's Christmas Carol, though fondly remembered, failed to lift the studio to new heights. ...


Three new series for syndication are to be produced by Hanna and Barbera. One hundred and fifty-six segments of five minutes each ae being developed. They are Wally Gator with voices by Bill Thompson and Paul Frees, Touche Turtle and Dum Dum with voices by Bill Thompson and Paul Reed, and Lippy the Lion and the Sad Hyena with track by Mel Blanc.

Other plans by H-B include live and animated commercials and an hour-long cartoon variety show.

H-B's first cartoon feature with Yogi Bear is scheduled for Thanksgiving 1962 release by Columbia. ...

A shame that Hanna-Barbera's "cartoon variety show" didn't pan out. But there were, in 1960, a few pretenders to Disney's feature animation throne. H-B and UPA were ultimately minor contenders, but they were in the arena competing.

New Disney Animated Features

The Rainbow Road to Oz will be the next animation feature to be produced by Walt Disney.

Disney has owned rights to all of Frank Baum's Oz stories (excpt The Wizard of Oz) since 1954 but had been debating whether to make his Oz feature live or animated. The feature has a "multi-million dollar budget" and is scheduled for 1963 release. Also being prepared for a 1963 debut is The Sword and the Stone, adapted from a story by T.H. White. Its six million dollar budget makes it the most expensive animated feature by Disney.

Speaking of animation budgets, Walt Disney Productions' The Rescuers cost $7.5 million in 1977; The Fox and the Hound had a $12 million price tag when released in 1981.

As for Oz features, there was nothing animated in '63 but much later, two live-action specimens emerged: Return to Oz (1985) was edgy, dark and did minimal business. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) took design cues from the '39 M-G-M classic and ended up a medium-sized hit.


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