Birthdays are exciting. Movie birthdays are no different. Here are ten feature animations hitting some major milestones in 2017!
Brave: 5 Years
Released June 22, 2012
Brave tackles the concept of fate, choice, and consequence. Scottish princess, Merida, rebels against custom, refuses to marry, and ultimately turns her mother and brothers into bears. Only a Freaky Friday-esque coming together can set everything right again. Pixar animators achieved such stunning visuals by completely rewriting their animation software for the first time in 25 years. Brave was the first Pixar film released after the death of Steve Jobs, Pixar’s co-founder.
Wreck-It-Ralph: 5 Years
Released November 2, 2012
Ralph is an arcade game villain who wants to be a hero instead. So Ralph travels to other video games in search of a way to become a hero. The original arcade game concept for an animated movie began floating around Walt Disney Studios in the 1980s. Wreck-It-Ralph is just another example of how good ideas never really die. From the get go, Rich Moore, the film’s director, knew he wanted to include licensed characters from real life video games to give Wreck-It-Ralph authenticity.
Meet The Robinsons: 10 Years
Released March 30, 2007
Meet the Robinsons is loosely based on A Day With Wilbur Robinson, a children's book by William Joyce. The film follows Lewis as he searches for family with the time traveling help of Wilbur. It was the first film produced after John Lasseter became the head of Walt Disney Animation Studios. In fact, Disney acquired Pixar during production of Meet the Robinsons. Lasseter’s feedback on the film, and its subsequent alterations, set the release date back a year.
Ratatouille: 10 Years
Released June 29, 2007
Ratatouille follows Remy, a French rat who dreams of becoming a chef. He travels to Paris, befriends a lowly garbage boy, Linguini, and together they take the restaurant world by storm. Digitally animating food proved quite challenging, and animators took cooking classes and consulted international chefs to achieve the delicious-looking end result.
Hercules: 20 Years
Released June 27, 2997
Hercules follows the title character as he learns of his true ancestry as a God, and subsequent quest to regain his place in Mount Olympus. While Hercules is obviously based on the Greek mythology, “Hercules” the Roman name for Heracles, while the other characters retain their Greek versions. Danny DeVito and James Woods both voiced characters for the film (Phil and Hades, respectively), continuing Jon Musker and Ron Clement’s trend of casting celebrities.
Aladdin: 25 Years
Released November 25, 1992
Aladdin is based on a story from One Thousand and One Nights, and was originally pitched by lyricist Howard Ashman. Ashman worked with composer Alan Menken on the music, and his work was picked up by Tim Rice after Ashman’s death in 1991. Clements and Musker wrote the part of the Genie for Robin Williams, and animated a Genie sequence using Williams’ own standup routine in order to convince him to take the part. Casting Robin Williams marked a new era of using celebrities in animation, not just trained voice actors.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 40 years
Released March 11, 1977
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh laces together three previous animated featurettes, which in turn are based on children's’ books by A.A. Milne. The film uses the stories from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974) plus scenes to connect them together. Walt worked on the Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and the Blustery Day shorts, making this film the last one released with Walt’s fingerprints.
The Rescuers: 40 Years
Released June 22, 1977
The Rescuers centers on two mice, Bianca and Bernard, who are part of the Rescue Aid Society, which operates a bit like the United Nations, but with mice who help abductees around the world. The movie is based on books by Margery Sharp and was the first to have a sequel, Rescuers Down Under, in 1990. Bianca and Bernard travel to the Louisiana bayou to save Penny, who is being forced to hunt in caves for treasure by Madame Medusa and her pet alligators. Madame Medusa was modelled after animator Milt Kahl’s ex-wife, whom he hated. The Rescuers acted as a bridge of sorts, with veteran animators working alongside new animators like Ron Clements and Glen Keane. Both would eventually be major players in the Disney Renaissance.
The Jungle Book: 50 Years
Released October 18, 1967
Mowgli, an orphaned boy raised in the jungle by wolves, fights to stay in the jungle, while Shere Khan, a man-eating tiger, is on the hunt for him. The Jungle Book was the last film from Walt Disney Studios to be produced by Walt himself, who passed away during its production. The movie is based on the Rudyard Kipling book of the same name.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: 80 Years
Released December 21, 1937
As a retelling of the well-known Brothers Grimm story, Snow White was the first full length, full color feature animated film. Making the film was a huge gamble. No one, not even Walt’s wife or brother, thought it would be a success. They were wrong, of course. When adjusted for inflation, Snow White is still in the top ten highest grossing movies in the American box office. The American Film Institute named it the greatest American animated film in 2008, and the Library of Congress has recognized its cultural value by preserving it in the National Film Registry. All Disney animated features today owe their existence to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Fun and Fancy Free: 70 Years
Released September 27, 1947
Fun and Fancy Free is a package film, featuring two shorts, Bongo (based on a short story by Sinclair Lewis) and Mickey and the Beanstalk (obviously based on Jack and the Beanstalk). Package films were common in the 1940s when the war forced the studio to trim its spending. Mickey and the Beanstalk was the last time Walt voiced Mickey with regularity. The two shorts would later be separated and released as episodes in a Disney anthology TV series.