The House of Mouse Project / 09.05.2020

The one that twisted history too far. Despite one unfortunate hiccup along the way, in the early 1990s, Disney's animation department were experiencing a hot streak of critically acclaimed and publicly adored films not seen since the days of Walt Disney himself. With each new animated release, the box office results only grew bigger, shattering the very records set by the preceding film. The merchandise was flying off the shelves. VHS sales were booming. Theme park attendance was up. Disney was everywhere you looked. The house of mouse was...

The House of Mouse Project / 08.05.2020

The one that ruled them all. After the tremendous critical and commercial successes of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, both critics and audiences were awaiting Disney's next move with bated breath. In the pipeline were two wildly different animated projects currently in production; The Lion King, a coming-of-age tale centred on a young lion cub, and Pocahontas, a sweeping romance based of the life of a Native American icon. Studio executives and animators were enormously excited by one of these projects, with predictions it would be...

The House of Mouse Project / 07.05.2020

The one that took us to a whole new world. After the roaring success of The Little Mermaid and the growing buzz surrounding the production of Beauty and the Beast, confidence within the Disney animation studio was the highest it had been in decades. Many assumed the plan set by Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg to release a brand new animated feature every single year was doomed to fail. While The Rescuers Down Under was an unfortunate bump in the road, Katzenberg seemed assured the animation department was finally on...

The House of Mouse Project / 06.05.2020

The one that made history. In 1990, the dawn of a new decade also marked the advent of a new age of Disney animation. After the staggering critical and commercial success of The Little Mermaid and the groundbreaking technical achievements of The Rescuers Down Under, the studio began to feel like the days when Walt Disney roamed the halls. After facing an uncertain future throughout the 1980s, the animation team were preparing to unleash one of their finest achievements. And it would be a film that would break records...

The House of Mouse Project / 05.05.2020

The one that marked the new dawn of animation. When Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg took over the reins of the Disney animation department in the early 1980s, Katzenberg proposed the idea of an annual "Gong Show" pitch meeting to allow the animators to present potential future animated feature film projects. After the first gathering in 1985 produced two approved projects now currently in development in Oliver & Company and The Little Mermaid, Katzenberg was hopeful 1986's meeting would prove just as fruitful. While the 1986 "Gong Show" may not...

The House of Mouse Project / 04.05.2020

The one that started a renaissance. After the artistically disappointing animated films of the 1970s, the following decade was providing little hope for the future of the animation department of Walt Disney Pictures. While films like The Fox and the Hound and The Great Mouse Detective had proven relative success stories at the box office, they lacked the true Disney magic of decades past. After the colossal failure of The Black Cauldron in 1985, Disney's animators lived in constant fear CEO Michael Eisner was looking for any excuse to swing...

The House of Mouse Project / 03.05.2020

The one that paved the way for Disney's revival. With the release of The Black Cauldron out of the way and production close to wrapping on The Great Mouse Detective, Disney CEO Michael Eisner and head of Walt Disney Pictures Jeffrey Katzenberg were ready to finally oversee their first animated productions. While Eisner was still flirting with the idea of shutting the costly animation department down, newly-appointed Vice President of Animation Peter Schneider promised bigger and better things were to come. In a bid to uncover that next big thing,...

The House of Mouse Project / 02.05.2020

The one that sparked a revolution. As newly-minted Disney President, Ron Miller began his reign in 1980, many hoped a member of the Disney family (Miller was Walt's son-in-law) could leader the studio back to its former glory. Just four years later, Miller would be unceremoniously booted out of the top job, as covered in my piece on The Black Cauldron. But in the midst of the chaos surrounding the production that pending disaster, Miller would also greenlight another animated project which would prove to a gamechanger. In the mid-1970s,...

The House of Mouse Project / 01.05.2020

The one that almost killed Disney animation. As the 1980s began, Walt Disney Pictures (yes, we've seen a name change) entered the decade under new leadership. For the first time since the death of Roy O. Disney, the studio was controlled by a member of the Disney family, with Walt Disney's son-in-law Ron Miller taking the reins as President. After working closely with his father-in-law prior to his death in 1966, Miller had spent the last two decades producing numerous Disney films including Freaky Friday, Escape to Witch Mountain,...

The House of Mouse Project / 30.04.2020

The one that challenged the idea of friendship. By the late 1970s, the animation department of Walt Disney Productions had saved itself from foreclosure, particularly after the stunning success of The Rescuers. While a new crop of animators were proving the next generation may just be the answer to a much-needed revolution, the remaining members of Walt's "Nine Old Men" were providing supervision on their final film. And the changing of the guard would prove to be more tumultuous than first expected. Way back in May 1967, Disney had acquired...