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How did the Black Cauldron almost completely kill Disney animation?

Discussion in 'Animation, Movies, TV' started by Goliath123, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. Goliath123

    Goliath123 New Member

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    I was only 6 at the time. So can some of you run down for me how it nearly killed Disney studios?

    Why do you feel it was poorly received? Too far removed from a standard Disney flick? Or just a terrible movie?
     
  2. RandomPrincess

    RandomPrincess Keep Moving Forward Premium Member

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  3. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    Disney's first 'PG' animated feature, it contained some rather sinister and gruesome imagery at the time.
    When it first hit theaters in the Summer of 1985, it created quite a stir as many people ( parents in particular ) felt it was too dark and 'creepy' for children to see.
    I remember seeing many a parent with child in tow leaving the theater about half way through the movie during that first release.

    People were just not expecting it from a studio that in the late 70s / early 80s was releasing cute and cuddly 'babysitter' movies.
    Folks had become so familiar with the harmless 'kiddie films' of that particular time period and just assumed ' The Black Cauldron' was similar - fluffy and snuggly fodder.
    Not by a long shot!
    Boy, were they surprised...!

    So the movie simply surprised people, as it was not what they were expecting and not something really being acceptable for children to see in the mid-80s.
    Even today, there are a few scenes that are quite intense even for a adult to watch.
    It was a true one off as far as Disney animated features go.

    I personally like the film.
    I LIKE that it attempted to be more 'mature' in content and had a spooky edge.
    I like that Disney attempted to do something different and 'out of character' of their perceived audience.
    It is no masterpiece per say, but it features some excellent effects animation and some cool sequences.
    It is a regular watching every Halloween season for me.

    -
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
  4. 216bruce

    216bruce Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't really work story-wise as there's no really lovable characters (some are kinda annoying actually) and the story is muddly. This isn't the fatal flaw in it though. The music, backgrounds and animation are wonderful but what killed it was it's 'reputation' more than anything else. By that I mean a bunch of folks went to see it expecting something at worst being 'Disney scary'...which is really not scary at all and ended up with the Cauldron Born and the Horned King, both of which are awesome but not for lil' Sarah and Matthew. So, Mom takes lil' Sarah and Matt out and tells her neighbor Moms at their Jane Fonda workout (remember this is 1985) that what they saw sure wasn't 'Fox and the Hound'. I mean it was disturbing, scary and they are soooo 'disappointed in Disney for not warning anyone'. Disney also never really pushed it much and it was made at a transitional time there...that was also a yuge problem.
    Me? I love the look of it and with some story help it could have been tremendous but we are left with eye and ear candy.
     
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  5. Andrew C

    Andrew C You know what's funny? Premium Member

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    magical pet pig, that says it all.
     
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  6. Animaniac93-98

    Animaniac93-98 Well-Known Member

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    And to think there was even more (and worse) of that stuff that did not make it to theatres.

    Corporate history is like anything else, it's written by the victors. In this case, The Black Cauldron was green lit by the previous board at Disney, and when Eisner and Katzenberg came on board and it failed it was not their fault or problem to worry about any more.

    By the time the movie was released to video in August 1998, the Disney forumla for film making was set in stone by all the features leading up to Mulan, as well as imitators like Anastasia. In contrast, The Black Cauldron has no celebrity voices (unless you count John Hurt), no songs and is intentionally scary and ugly at times. It's little wonder why millennials obbsessed with Ariel, Simba and Genie didn't go for it.
     
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  7. Wendy Pleakley

    Wendy Pleakley Well-Known Member

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    I think Disney animation was in a bit of a lull in general around that time. See the list below. Quite a few forgettable films in a row, in my opinion.

    It's great they weren't repeating themselves, but the lack of "typical" Disney animated films was likely causing some audience erosion. The last princess movie was Sleeping Beauty in 1959. The last musical was Robin Hood in 1973. Things didn't get back on track until 1989 when The Little Mermaid breathed new life into Disney animation.

    The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh March 11, 1977
    The Rescuers June 22, 1977
    The Fox and the Hound July 10, 1981
    The Black Cauldron July 24, 1985
    The Great Mouse Detective July 2, 1986
     
  8. 216bruce

    216bruce Well-Known Member

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    The video release timing is huge for this movie and it's legacy. I totally agree. Folks now expect Disney animation to fit into a very small and narrow 'box'. Princesses, pretty much the same story line, etc. Imagine "Fantasia' being made nowadays...it would bomb as you can't merchandise it, have meet and greets, etc. I also agree with the corporate timing of it- timing is everything when the process needs strong continuity over the years of crafting. TBC needed a strong story person to give it more coherency than it had. There wasn't anyone at the studio during it's production to do that...just lots of great artists and animators, not story people like Walt was or even Lasseter. As much as I've enjoyed musical Princess movies over the years they are getting VERY "same thing, different Princess." There's no story challenge when you repeat the same formula over and over.
     
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  9. phruby

    phruby Well-Known Member

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    There was also the hatchet job of editing that Katsenberg did to the final released version. That didn't help.
     
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  10. Earl Sweatpants

    Earl Sweatpants Well-Known Member

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    Watch the documentary, Waking Sleeping Beauty.
     
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  11. Pixie VaVoom

    Pixie VaVoom Well-Known Member

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    It has almost gotten to the point of "same thing - which COLOR princess DRESS" .
     
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  12. Andrew C

    Andrew C You know what's funny? Premium Member

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    It kind of bombed back then as well, but for different reasons.

    Please correct me if I am misinterpreting what you're saying but Zootopia and Inside Out are two recent and successful examples that provide evidence to the contrary. I would even throw in Big Hero 6 and Wreck it Ralph.

    And..Moana is not a princess, she is the chief's daughter...hehe
     
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  13. 216bruce

    216bruce Well-Known Member

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    Good points on all except Moana...I mean, she's a princess except for her title but I think you know that... hehe. Technically, Inside Out is Pixar but you are right on Zootopia and Big Hero 6. Mea culpa.
     
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  14. Bairstow

    Bairstow Well-Known Member

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    What's especially interesting to me is that the late '70s and early '80s was something of a boom period for experimental adult/young adult animated features.
    While these were about to die out in the western world, permanently, a lot of people at Disney must have thought it was going to be an enduring trend.
    Today, no one remembers these things.



     
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  15. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    And let's not forget the granddaddy of them all, 1981's 'Heavy Metal'!
    Every self respecting serious animation buff knows about THAT animated film...
    ;)

    I won't share a video link here as it is legendary for containing some 'adult content', but despite that it still certainly qualifies as a member of the early 80s arty alternative animation genre.

    Some far out stuff in that one.
    Like, wow man......trippy.....but the music was great!
    :D

    -
     
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  16. fox_198

    fox_198 Well-Known Member

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    I went into The Black Cauldron not really knowing what to expect because of all the conflicting reviews and opinions on it, coupled with it having the epithet of being the film that almost killed Disney animation. After all was said and done, I really liked The Black Cauldron! I compare it to Atlantis and Treasure Planet, all 3 being animated adventure films with a slightly more mature tone that didn't too well at the box office.
     
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  17. Matt_Black

    Matt_Black Well-Known Member

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    Actually, Atlantis did okay, it's just that it came out in a summer with other REALLY big movies, like Tomb Raider and Shrek.
     
  18. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    I like 'Treasure Planet' quite a bit.
    Really cool concept they did with the 20/80 design work ( 20% period reality / 80% sci fi ).
    Some excellent animation and interesting character design work, too.
    Great musical score, and handsome background paintings.
    The story is a good retellling done in a unique way with some cool twists added into the mix.
    Recommended for those who have not seen it.

    I have always felt that is 'Treasure Planet' had waitied and been released just a year or two later it could have capitalized on the Pirates craze that swept the world after 'POTC - The Curse Of The Black Pearl' was released.
    It would have been a smash hit at the box office.

    -
     
  19. 21stamps

    21stamps Well-Known Member

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    Maybe I'm a different age than some other people here.. most of these movies were extremely popular during my childhood. I still have my piano sheets of The Rescuers.lol
     
  20. phruby

    phruby Well-Known Member

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    How come everyone forgets Oliver & Company (1988)? It was basically Great Expectations with dogs and a cat. It was kind of Disney's way of saying sorry for The Black Cauldron and Great Mouse Detective. It was sugar coated kids stuff.
     

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