Poster Problems. The poster for The Great Mouse Detective (1986) was roughed out by the Disney publicity department and sent to the animation department. There, several artists spent a few days putting all the characters on model and proper size. When they sent it back to publicity, they were told that artists at publicity had already gone ahead and just had the rough cleaned-up and used it as it was.
Anastasia Score. From The Hollywood Reporter November 6, 1997, David Newman who composed scored for animated features including Brave Little Toaster and Rover Dangerfield, talked about doing the score for Anastasia (1997): “Scoring an animated feature is different from scoring a TV cartoon. You treat it as you would any feature film. You’re not as picky about hitting each body movement as in the Stalling style.
“This is a very big looking movie, incredibly rich and lush in its detail. Its strength is in the characters and it’s always interesting to write music for emotions as well as for eye blinks. You try to take the melodies from the songs and develop them, use them in the underscore to weave in and out of the songs and make it seamless.
“I always admired my father’s work (Alfred Newman who worked on films like Carousel and The King and I) in that respect and I tried to use that approach with a 90s feel.
“In Anastasia, you almost forget that’s it’s animated. All the facial expressions and movements of the body are so well done. They delineate the purpose of the story. It still needs music but it can be subtle. When something is not fully animated and developed, you really have to make an effort to get across what’s going on. When everything’s working, your music sounds great. And when it’s not, everything suffers. It’s the nature of the beast.”
Cats That Never Was. Cats was the 1982 popular Broadway stage musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and one of the longest running stage shows of all time. Universal Pictures, Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and Lloyd Webber announced June 25th, 1990 they were making an animated feature film based on the musical.
Universal had purchased the screen rights for a reported ten millions dollars. After other attempts, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow who had co-written the screenplay for Toy Story (1995) were eventually hired to write the feature and their second draft was finally completed in October 1996. However, Webber kept having issues with the script which added more narrative detail than the original show.
In addition, management at MCA had changed since the purchase and were no longer as interested in the project as both animated features and Lloyd Webber’s career were in a slump. When Spielberg’s Amblimation studio closed up shop in 1997 that was the final nail in the coffin for the production.
Ron Clements. From the Daily News November 18, 1997, co-director of The Little Mermaid (1989) Ron Clements said, “For a long time, we felt there was a stigma about Disney films – that they were only for kids. I pitched The Little Mermaid at the “Gong Show” (the system Disney set up for new projects to be proposed) and their first reaction was a gong because they thought it was too close to Splash. But after Eisner read our treatment he changed his mind and gave us a ‘go’.
“It was a test in a certain way. It was the first fairy tale for Disney in 30 years (since Sleeping Beauty 1959) and none of us had worked on a fairy tale before. We knew it would be compared with those classic Disney movies and we didn’t want it to be compared unfavorably.
“We work on these movies in a vacuum. Mermaid took almost four years to make and we had lost all objectivity. We felt there was a lot of potential but we didn’t know.
“Disney has a vested interest in Disney animation being on top. When it comes to the animators, no one here is rooting for other animated movies not to do well. Successful animated films just create more opportunities and make the business healthier. If Anastasia (1997) does well, that’s good for the people at Disney and at Fox.”
Thumbelina. From Los Angeles Times June 1, 1997: “Far from Los Angeles, Warner Bros. held two test screenings of Thumbelina (1994) showing clips from its animated movie to gauge audience interest. The first time around, audience reaction was flat. For the next test, according to people familiar with the experiment, Warners stripped off its company logo – and slapped Disney’s name on the exact same Thumbelina footage. The test scores scored.”
Roth on Fox Cartoons. From the Orange County Register March 15, 1998, Peter Roth, the president of Fox Entertainment Group said, “I submit King of the Hill and The Simpsons would be just as successful if they were live-action shows. People don’t watch form; they watch content.
“Jim Brooks (executive producer of The Simpsons) has said that this little yellow family called the Simpsons is as real and three-dimensional as most domestic families in comedies today. As a viewer, you now have over 50 choices in any hour of television. If you offer fare that is not distinctive or different or daring, you are almost certainly doomed to failure.”
The Children Sour. In Broadcasting magazine January 3, 1966, it announced that MGM’s Animation/Visual Arts division started in 1963 created titles for feature films and made animated commercials for the Gillette Company and Atlantic Refining Company. It had a staff of 33 creative people operating on an annual budget of about one million dollars.
Supposedly, they were making pilots for CBS including Goldie Lox and the Three Yaanhs directed by Chuck Jones about “the first 14 year old villain on television. We visualize her as Humphrey Bogart playing Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936). The yaanhs are masses of fur in tennis shoes.”
Malcolm Pouter would be “a satire on the super characters such as the Batman. Malcolm is a mean boy who can’t stand people more evil than he is, such as Ben Turbine, who has a turbine for a head and coils of wires for his hands.” Both of these series would be six and a half minue cartoons for an overall show to be called The Children Sour.