Walt Disney Animation Studios
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Walt Disney Animation Studios is located in Burbank, CA and was founded on October 16, 1923, by Roy O. Disney and Walt Disney. Disney Animation is an American animation studio that creates animated feature films, short films, and television specials for the Walt Disney Company.
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Walt Disney Animation Studios History
If you love animation films, then you love Walt Disney. How much do you know of this great company that has brought a ton of hit animation movies to our screens close to a century now? Don’t worry, let’s start here, Walt Disney Animation is an animation studio that is part of the Walt Disney Studios and is headquartered in Burbank, California. It produces animated films, television specials, and short films. The studio has dazzled the world with over 56 productions since it was established in 1923.
1923-1928: Early Years
In 1923, Walt Disney partnered with Roy O. Disney to establish the Disney Cartoon Studios in Los Angeles. They began with the production of Alice Comedies that was silent short films. Margaret J. Winkler’s Pictures distributed the Alice Comedies and also the 1927 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in collaboration with Universal Pictures.
After disagreements between Walt Disney and Winkler Pictures emerged, Disney together with his head animator led a handful of staffers into secretly producing cartoons that starred a new character, Mickey Mouse. The Galloping Gaucho and Plane Crazy were the first two Mickey Mouse cartoons, which previewed in 1928. However, the third movie, Steamboat Willie marked a new era by becoming Disney’s first cartoon that featured synchronized sound. It became a major success as well as the most popular cartoon features in the U.S. upon its debut in 1928.
1929-1934: Snow White
The Silly Symphonies were the second Disney Animation of sound cartoons that debuted in 1929. They served as an experimentation ground for new animation techniques. After financial disputes emerged between the studio and Powers (the company that distributed the Mickey Mouse), the animation studio proceeded with releasing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1938 which was made available by Columbia.
It became the leading feature in animation to be produced in Technicolor and English and is considered Walt Disney’s greatest achievement. After completion with the then-expensive amount of $1.4 million, the movie experienced unprecedented success to be the highest-earning film of that time. Taking inflation into account, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs currently ranks as the 10th highest-grossing film of all time.
1935-1949: Pinocchio and WWII
Inspired by Snow White’s, Disney released Pinocchio and Fantasia. Both were not financial successes when first published in 1940.
A union strike followed in 1941 resulting in the exodus of numerous animation professionals. After withstanding the storm, the studio released Dumbo just before America’s entry into War War II, which became another box office success. Bambi then followed in 1942.
Works on Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland were forced to be put on hold as Disney Animation turned its focus on shorts, war propaganda, and military training films like 1934, Victory Through AirPower. Starting with Saludos Amigos, Disney then began production of inexpensive package films that comprised of short subjects depicted by animated or live-action framing.
1950-1966: Walt’s Death
After Sleeping Beauty’s release in 1959, Disney Animation department experienced a considerable downsizing. The studio also transitions from hand-done linking of cells to xerography, a technology that helped to speed up production. The 101 Dalmatians became its first movie to use this technology. Sadly, Walt produced two more features, The Sword in the Stone and The Jungle Book before his death in 1966 from lung cancer.
1967-1988: Rivalry and Corporate Reconstruction
After the death of its founder, the company pressed forward with the movies: The Aristocrats (1970), Robin Hood (1973), The Rescuers (1977), and Pete’s Dragon (1978). In 1979, 11 animators who led by Don Bluth left the studio to form Don Bluth production, Disney’s main competitor during this period.
The company underwent a major reconstruction after it narrowly escaped a hostile takeover. Paramount Picture’s Michael Eisner became CEO working with Jeffrey Katzenberg, while former Warner Bros employee Frank Wells became president.
In 1985, Disney released an unimpressive The Black Cauldron. It then founded a Television animation division, which Roy E. Disney supervised in an effort to put the company back to its glory days. The studio’s Oliver & Company and The Land Before Time were both box office successes. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was later released and achieved, not only commercial success but also won four Academy Awards.
1989-1999: The Renaissance era
1989 saw the release of The Little Mermaid, which grossed whopping $89 million. It was successful as it also received 2 Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Score. The Rescuers Down Under, a film that was a sequel to 1977 The Rescuers followed with disappointing sales. However, the film was notable as it was the first feature to be digitally produced in its entirety.
Beauty and the Beast came in 1991 and becoming the first animated movie to receive an Oscars nomination for Best Picture. It, however, went on to earn Golden Globe’s Best Picture and 2 Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Score. Aladdin (1992) together with The Lion King (1994) followed being the highest-grossing films of their years. The Lion King went down in the record books as the highest-grossing traditionally animated movie in history.
Pocahontas and Hunchback of Notre Dame were also released during Disney Renaissance and achieved box office success. Pocahontas earned the Best Original Song as well as Best Score at the Academy Awards. With the future looking bright, Disney Animation pressed forward with other noteworthy success such as Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan.
2000-2004: Post-Renaissance era
After the Renaissance, the studio enjoyed success in the release of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Dinosaur while also suffering disappointments with Brother Bear, Home on the Range, and Treasure Planet.
The company soon realized a decline in revenue and quality. The decline was ascribed to the use of traditional animation methods. To survive in the cutthroat competition it was experiencing at the time, Disney animation changed its animation method from WDFI to CGI, sold off traditional animation equipment, and also performed layoffs.
2005-2008: Lasseter’s Entry
2005’s Chicken Little became the studio’s first CGI animated movie. In 2006, Pixar Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar in a $7.4 billion deal. John Lasetter, who was a Pixar executive, became Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
He saw the release of Bolt and Meet the Robinsons that experienced failure and critical acclaim respectively.
2009-Present: Dawn of a new era
Lasseter’s agenda when he took over was reviving the fairytale formula used by classic Disney. This was achieved through The Princess and the Frog in 2009. The feature received overwhelming acclaim from both audiences and critics. In 2010, Disney Animation saw the release of Tangled, a version of Rapunzel.
The film got numerous positive reviews and became the studio’s most successful film since The Lion King. Tangled acted as a landmark as it is the first movie to employ a combination of computer imagery and traditional animation. Following it was Winnie and the Pooh and Wreck-it-Ralph. Paperman moved to win a myriad of accolades for the animation studio.
In 2013, Disney saw the release of Frozen, a version of The Snow Queen. The animated feature was a financial juggernaut, surpassing the sales of The Lion King to not only become the studio’s highest-grossing movie but to be the highest-grossing animated feature of all time. It also won Best Original Song (Let it go) and Best Animated Feature. Following up was Big Hero 6, which earned over $652 million.
In March 2016, the world was given Zootopia, a surprise hit that mirrored the success of its impressive predecessor, Frozen. It achieved over $1 billion to become the second-highest-grossing feature of Disney Animation. Its achievements were brought to the Academy Awards where it won Best Animated Feature. Later the studio released Moana, Inner workings, and Cars 3.
What the Future Holds
With nearly a century under its belt, Disney Animation is still a giant in the industry, and its future projects show no detours from the studio’s successful run. We can all expect the return of the 101 Dalmatians in December 2017 with its remake Cruella starring Emma Stone.
The retro-gaming animation, Wreck-it-Ralph will also be back with its sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet in 2018. Magic Camp, Mulan, and The Incredibles are also expected the same year.
2019 will see the release of Dumbo and Toy Story 4. The same year, mega-hits for Disney Animation will be back on screens with Aladdin. Frozen 2, and not to forget The Lion King are also to be released then.
Further thrills to expect are Pete’s dragon, Maleficent 2, The Jungle Book 2, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Sword in The Stone, Winnie the Pooh, Tinker Bell, Snow White-Red Rose, and Cinderella-Prince Charming.
Here is a list of Disney Animation Studios movies starting with the most recent. Which ones are your favorites? Share a comment below or click each post to leave a comment on that movies page.
- Raya and the Last Dragon (2020)
- Frozen II
- The Lion King (2019)
- Ralph Breaks the Internet
- The Jungle Book (2016)
- Big Hero 6
- Wreck-It Ralph
- Frankenweenie (Walt Disney Pictures)
- Winnie the Pooh
- Princess and the Frog
- Meet the Robinsons
- Chicken Little
- Home on the Range
- Brother Bear
- Treasure Planet
- Lilo and Stitch
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire
- The Emperor’s New Groove
- Fantasia 2000
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- The Lion King
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Rescuers Down Under
- The Little Mermaid
- Oliver & Company
- The Great Mouse Detective
- The Black Cauldron
- The Fox and the Hound
- The Rescuers
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Robin Hood
- The AristoCats
- The Jungle Book
- The Sword in the Stone
- 101 Dalmatians
- Sleeping Beauty
- Lady and the Tramp
- Peter Pan
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
- Melody Time
- Fun and Fancy Free
- Make Mine Music
- The Three Caballeros
- Saludos Amigos
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
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