Tag Archives: Disney

Walt Disney’s Birthday

walt-disney-drawingOn December 5, 1901, Walt Disney, innovative American animator, movie producer, and entrepreneur who started The Walt Disney Company, was born in Chicago, Illinois.

Disney lived in Missouri for most of his childhood and started selling pictures, paintings, and drawings he created to his neighbors and friends. After his family moved back to Chicago, Disney attended McKinley High School and took drawing and photography classes while working as the cartoonist for the school’s newspaper. He took classes at the Chicago Institute of Art at night and dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to join the military. Because he was underage, he was rejected and joined the Red Cross instead, and was sent to France where he drove ambulances for a year.

Disney finished his time with the Red Cross in France in 1919 and moved to Kansas City to become a newspaper artist. He began doing cutout animations for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, and experimented with cel animation with a camera the owner of the company let him borrow. He soon decided to start an animation business and produced short cartoons which he called Laugh-o-Grams that he screened at a Kansas City theater. After the cartoons gained a significant amount of popularity, Disney was able to open up his own animation studio and hire a fairly large amount of animators. In the few years it was open, his studio’s profits did not exceed the salaries he payed his employees, and Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Unphased by this setback, Disney and his brother, Roy, pooled their money, moved to Hollywood, and started Disney Brothers Studio. There they searched for a distributor for Disney’s Alice Comedies, a series of live-action Alice in Wonderland shorts featuring a little girl named Alice having adventures in an animated world. They found salvation in Margaret Winkler who owned Winkler Pictures with her fiance, Charles Mintz. They struck a deal contracting out the shorts to Winkler Pictures for $1,500 each. After Winkler and Mintz married in 1927, Mintz assumed control of the company and ordered a new series of animated shorts from Disney to be distributed through Universal Pictures. The Disney studio created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit which was instantly popular. When Disney confronted Mintz about increasing his fee per short, Disney was surprised to find out that Universal owned the trademark to Oswald and Mintz had most of Disney’s animators under contract. Mintz informed an appalled Disney that he would be decreasing his production budget, and if Disney did not accept these new terms, he would produce the Oswald shorts without Disney.

Cutting his losses, Disney decided to strike out on his own once again with his brother and animator friend who had been with him from the beginning, Ubbe Iwerks. Together they created a new character, the iconic Mickey Mouse. With the addition of sound to film, Mickey Mouse soon became the world’s most popular cartoon character and Disney received an honorary Oscar for his creation of Mickey Mouse in 1932. Disney began producing many successful cartoons and set out to make the first full-length cel animated feature film in 1934.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in Los Angeles on December 21, 1937. Despite the effects of the Depression, Snow White was produced at an unheard of $1.499 million. During its initial release it grossed $8 million ($132,671,390 today), and Disney was given an honorary Academy Award featuring a full-size Oscar statuette and seven miniature ones. In the next few years following the release of Snow White, the Disney studios produced several more full-length animated films including Fantasia, Pinocchio, Bambi, and Dumbo.

In the 1940s, Disney experienced some setbacks when his animators went on strike, but began making more animated features in the 1950s including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and others. When television gained mass appeal, Disney took advantage of this and produced some of the first full-color television programs. The 1950s also saw the opening of Disneyland, a family theme park that became a world-renowned tourist hot spot soon after its opening.

The Disney studios produced a plethora of feature films in Walt Disney’s lifetime including popular live-action and animated films like Mary Poppins. Plans for a larger East coast version of Disneyland called Disney World including the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow or EPCOT were put into motion in the early 1960s, but Walt was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 1966 and passed away later that year. In his memory, Walt’s brother renamed the new theme park Walt Disney World and it was completed in the 1970s.

Walt Disney is a legendary figure whose name is now synonymous with creativity, imagination, and never giving up on your dreams.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, Just Disney

 

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Song of the South Released

song-of-the-south-poster-sizedOn November 12, 1946, Disney movie Song of the South premiered at Fox Theater in Atlanta. The film features Uncle Remus, an African American former slave, recounting the misadventures of Br’er Rabbit and his friends to a group of children. The film has been controversial since its release because of its depiction of race relations. Because of this, it has never been released in its entirety on home video in the United States.

The Disney company was suffering after disappointing box office returns from Pinocchio and Fantasia (both released in 1940), so Walt Disney began to brainstorm something that would be technically innovative and inexpensive to make. In 1939, Disney had negotiated the rights to the plantation-set Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris. The film revolves around Johnny, a young white boy, who moves to his grandparents’ plantation after his parents split up and becomes enthralled by the fables told by Uncle Remus, an African-American servant who also lives on the plantation. His fables follow the adventures of Br’er Rabbit who constantly outwits Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear.

At the movie’s premiere in Atlanta, Walt Disney introduced the film and the cast, but retreated to his hotel room across the street because he did not want to hear any unexpected reactions from the audience. It is rumored that James Baskett, who played Uncle Remus, did not attend the premiere because Atlanta was still racially segregated at this point.

Although the movie made a small profit in the box offices, it has become revered as the black sheep of the Disney family of movies for its handling of race and the critical response it received after its release. Many critics praised it for being artistically beautiful for combining animation with live action, but thought the depiction of African American plantation life was cliched, offensive, and Uncle TomishThe New York Times‘ Bosley Crowther wrote that the movie was a “travesty on the antebellum South.”

Despite its critical response, the film received an Academy Award from the wildly popular song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and the story’s characters still live on in the Disney theme park ride Splash Mountain which features Br’er Rabbit and company as well as music from the film.

Petitions and fan sites have been created supporting the re-release of Song of the South, but Disney representatives have stated on several occasions that the movie is antiquated and fairly offensive so this is not likely. Clips from the movie have been released on Disney compilations, but the full movie has never been released on video in the United States. Out-of-print international versions of the movie have sold online for as much as $100.

Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB, Slate.com

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Alice in Wonderland Published

Under the pen name Lewis Carroll, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote one of the most popular stories of all time, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The book was published by Macmillan on July 4, 1865.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland chronicles the escapades of young girl, Alice, after she falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy realm and meets all sorts of interesting characters. The tale originates from a boat trip that Dodgson took with the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church; when they asked him to tell them a story, what came out was the earliest version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The girls loved the story so much that Dodgson began drafting it out on paper the very next day.

Dodgson’s novel has had such a tremendous impact that it has been adapted numerous times for the big screen, television, comic books, and plays. The most notable of these would be Disney’s animated movie (1951) and Tim Burton’s version, which was released in 2010.

Sources: Alice in Wonderland, The Lewis Carroll Society

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Patrick Kinkade Highlighting Process

Comment on this post for a chance to win an autographed paint palette from Patrick Kinkade!

After our interview with Patrick Kinkade, he took some time to highlight one of his brother Thomas’ paintings from the Disney Dreams Collection. He talks a little about the process of highlighting and the partnership with Disney. We have also pointed out a few details you might not be able to see in the video. Enjoy!

 

 

 

The foreground of the painting really tells the beginning of the story. The setting is London, and Wendy, John, and Michael Darling are flying off with Peter Pan to begin their adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story continues in the top left corner of the painting. You can see the enchanted island of Never Land and the Lost Boys, Peter Pan’s crew, take shape in the clouds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top right corner picks up with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee who cause problems for the Darling family and Peter Pan and his gang. You can also see the crocodile, always eager to get his teeth on Captain Hook’s other hand.

 

 

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