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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. Rich T

    Rich T Well-Known Member

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    The idea that the film bombed because it was "too dark" is nonsense. Pinocchio is a darker film. In fact, fans were really hoping this would be Disney's return to taking animation seriously. I went to opening night in a theater packed with families, animation geeks and Disney fans...and you could feel the disappointment in the air. Nothing worked. The audience laughed when the pig got skynapped--not a good sign.

    My friend said it best afterward, "It tries to do too many things, and doesn't do any of them well." Weak, forgettable characters. Really annoying, unappealing comic relief. Boring, boring, BORING villain. A plot that just seems just a collection of random "fantasy genre" events.

    That's why the film bombed. It just isn't a good movie. I know Katzenberg messed with the editing, but I can't see anything worth saving in what's up there on the screen. It's as if you took the human characters out of the "Fox and the Hound" and "The Rescuers" and had them pretending to be in a fantasy epic written by a committee with no clue how to tell a good fantasy story.
     
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  2. Matt_Black

    Matt_Black Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if I'd say it didn't do anything well; Eilonwy is cool, and a precursor to the "strong, proactive princesses" we'd get in the Disney Renaissance.

    It IS however one of the weakest non-package films. However, the WORST film in the Disney canon is, without question, Home on the Range.
     
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  3. Animaniac93-98

    Animaniac93-98 Well-Known Member

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    The movie was a hit upon its intital release, but then Disney sat on it for years until the 1996 theatrical and home video re-release. By then, the kids who saw it when they were little had grown up and the next batch of grade schoolers didn't care. Had it been put to video in 1989, it would have certainly developed more of a nostalgic following.
     
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  4. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    Yep.
    'Oliver & Company' was a big hit for Disney back in November of 1988...the best return for some time.
    It had a lot of contemporary feel for the time which folks found appealing.
    The dogs and cat made their way onto a lot of merchandise associated with the film, which sold quite well.
    I have several examples in my various collections.

    It also has to be said that 'Oliver' benefitted from being released after 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit', which was launched the previous Summer in 1988.
    Anything and everything that was a cartoon or cel animated was suddenly 'cool' for adults to enjoy starting right after 'Roger' was released.
    Interest in anything animated skyrocketed as that particular film played a part in reminding people how entertaining watching 'a cartoon' could be!

    Remember kids, this was long before Pixar was on the scene making full length animated films and doing the same thing...making animation that was accepted by adults and not just seen as 'kids stuff'.

    Folks need to remember that back in the 1980s when 'Oliver' was released, animation had pretty much been forgotten about.
    There was some good syndicated stuff on television, but it was not the powerhouse in entertainment like it is today.


    'Oliver & Company' was on the cusp of a era.
    It cleared the stage of the 'off era' and got the spotlights ready for the wonders that were soon to come.

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    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
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  5. Matt_Black

    Matt_Black Well-Known Member

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    I seem to recall that O&C was one of the few times Disney heavily promoted the voice cast in the marketing. Usually, they let the story, characters, and setting sell the film. O&C let people know that there were several big names in there, including Billy Joel, Cheech Marin, and Bette Midler.

    It should be noted, though, that a lot of the animation is really rough in places. Watch it, then compare it to The Little Mermaid a year later.
     
  6. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    OH definitely....agree on those points completely.
    Both Bette Midler and Billy Joel were heavily promoted in the marketing for 'Oliver'.
    Big time.
    In 1988, both personalities were huge stars.
    The songs they performed in the film were also heavily promoted due to this, and it worked.

    And yes, the animation 'look and feel' was reminicent of the rough Xeroxed line style of the 1970s animated productions.
    'Mermaid's team attempted to return to the look of the 'golden age' of traditional animation and it clearly showed up on the screen.
    The primary tool was that they used Xerox tones for the cels that were grey instead of the solid black used in 'Oliver'.
    It gave 'Mermaid' a much softer look in comparison which suited the characters and watery settings very well.

    The final shot in 'Mermaid' was also assembled and colorized by the then brand new CAPS system Disney had developed to help streamline production.
    Starting with 1990s 'The Rescuers Down Under' it brought back the beautiful hand inked colored lines look of the earlier Disney Animated Features without the labor intensive process of doing it by hand.


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    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  7. Matt_Black

    Matt_Black Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking more of some of the VERY rough looking CG animation, particularly when Oliver & Co. are being chased through the subway.
     
  8. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    Ah...that.
    Very early 'blocky' computer animation.

    Yeah, they basically created a early digital model of Syke's limo, subway tunnel, and train.
    The printout drawings were then directly Xerox copied onto cells, and then hand painted.
    This gave those scenes a slightly jarring look.

    There are a couple of early computer animated scenes in 'Mermaid' as well...where a perspective shift was created over a bed of seaweed at the ocean bottom, and the horse drawn cartridge.

    The ocean bottom scene is near the climax when Ursula suddenly starts to enlarge into a giant monster sized version of herself.
    Cut to the scene of Sebastian and Flounder cowering as the camera angle changes admidst the weeds and clouds of kicked up sand.
    Always thought that was a odd choice, as most of the CGI is covered over by cel animated sand clouds...as if the directors realized it didn't look quite right and attempted to downplay the awkwardness.

    The horse carriage also has a very awkward look to it...but that was the early days of computer graphics.
    I always kind of wished they just went to the trouble of hand animating that in particular, as it would have 'aged' far better.


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  9. Matt_Black

    Matt_Black Well-Known Member

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    But compare the subway scene to the absolutely stunning Big Ben scene in The Great Mouse Detective just two years previously.
     
  10. Bairstow

    Bairstow Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  11. Matt_Black

    Matt_Black Well-Known Member

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    Stop Dickens around!
     
  12. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    The perspective shift used for that sequence inside of Big Ben was much better planned and executed, thus the better looking result.
    That just didn't happen with the sequence angles that were chosen for the subway scene in 'Oliver'.
    It made a big difference, as you noted.

    'The Great Mouse Detective' is a gem.
    Professor Ratigan is a terrific 'forgotten' Disney character.

    :)

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  13. Princess Leia

    Princess Leia Well-Known Member

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    Or, you know, that other Dickens story. Oliver Twist. :hilarious:
     
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  14. phruby

    phruby Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, mis-typed. Your right. Oliver Twist. I'll go whip myself now....
     

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