The House of Mouse Project / 22.04.2020

The one that ended an era. By the mid-1950s, Walt Disney was feeling decidedly exhausted. Since Pinocchio in 1940, Walt Disney Productions had released a new feature-length animated film every single year, bar one gap in 1952. The construction of Disneyland was now taking up the bulk of Walt's time, particularly as its July 1955 opening day grew closer on the horizon. Despite Lady and the Tramp standing as Disney's biggest box office success in almost 20 years, it was time for the animation studio to take a break. That...

The House of Mouse Project / 21.04.2020

The one that delivered a love story like no other. By the mid-1950s, Walt Disney's time and energy were split amongst three separate areas; the animation department which had made him famous, Disney's booming live-action feature film division, and the plans and construction for his mecca to be known as Disneyland. After the box office success of Peter Pan placed Walt Disney Productions back on top, Walt knew he needed a sure-fire winner to keep Disney on track. And the answer was rather obvious. Disney was fast becoming known for...

The House of Mouse Project / 20.04.2020

The one that taught us to never grow up. After the relatively muted response to Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney Productions were again in dire need of a critical and commercial hit. As fate would have it, that very film would be based on a story permeating in Walt Disney's imagination since he was a child. In Walt's younger years in Marceline, Missouri, he attended a travelling production of J.M. Barrie's play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up and was immediately enthralled. Several years later, Walt starred...

The House of Mouse Project / 19.04.2020

The one that ventured down the rabbit hole. After the staggering critical and commercial success of Cinderella, Walt Disney Productions was once again the toast of Hollywood. The box office returns from Cinderella provided much-needed cash back into Walt Disney's pocket, allowing the studio head to revitalise his animated feature film division and continue production on several projects which had been in limbo including an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's beloved children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Walt had been an avid reader of Carroll's books as a schoolboy and would...

The House of Mouse Project / 18.04.2020

The one that recaptured the magic. After almost a decade of subpar, inexpensive package films, Walt Disney Productions was genuinely on its last legs. While the series of anthology movies had kept the studio's head slightly above water, Walt Disney knew the general public's interest in these disappointing films was severely waning. With the studio's bank debt pushing below $4 million, Walt also knew he had one final shot to rescue Disney from total collapse. In a meeting with his financiers at Bank of America, Walt acknowledged the bank's desire...

The House of Mouse Project / 17.04.2020

The one that wrapped up a difficult era. By the late 1940s, Walt Disney Productions was barely holding on. After several years of producing inexpensive package films as a means to survive, the studio was eagerly preparing for the much-anticipated revival of its feature film production unit. But the dismal box office returns of both Fun and Fancy Free and Melody Time forced Walt Disney to rethink his next step. With a bank debt already reaching $4.2 million, the studio failed to ascertain further capital to recommence producing feature-length animated...

The House of Mouse Project / 16.04.2020

The one that served up more of the same. By the mid-1940s, Walt Disney was growing desperate to return to feature-length animated films. While World War II was over and life was beginning to return to some state of normalcy, Walt Disney Productions was still floundering. In debt of almost $3 million, Walt was already planning a dazzling, magical fairy tale to rescue the company and recapture Disney's standing as the home of family-friendly entertainment. Alas, it would still have to wait a few more years. While the company held...

The House of Mouse Project / 15.04.2020

The one that seemingly forgets its own title. By the mid-1940s, Walt Disney Productions were in dire straits. The end of World War II brought many of its animators and staff back to work, but they returned to a studio genuinely struggling to survive. After years of disappointing box office results for their package films and no further government funds coming Disney's way for army training films and propaganda pieces, the studio was on the brink of bankruptcy. Even their animated shorts were beginning to suffer. After winning 10 of...

The House of Mouse Project / 14.04.2020

The one that attempted to replicate a masterpiece. When Walt Disney created Fantasia in 1940, the film was originally planned to be the beginning of an ongoing project for potentially decades to come. Walt envisioned releasing a new Fantasia film every few years, with updated musical segments mingled amongst a selection of the original sequences. In 1941, he even began initial story and animation development of several sequences based on the work of composers like Wagner, Debussy, and Stravinsky. After Fantasia essentially flopped at the box office, Walt's grand plans...

The House of Mouse Project / 13.04.2020

The one that takes a strange detour into surrealism. The success of Saludos Amigos caught everyone by surprise. Even Walt Disney himself was staggered at just how popular the film proved to be in South America and the fact it managed to turn a small profit. The production was ultimately a favour to the American government and an inexpensive method to keep Disney's animators busy while they rode out the effects of World War II on the film industry. No one ever truly expected it to succeed. With the growing...