From Zero To Hero: A Look Back At The Disney 'Renaissance' Period
Before it defined the age of live-action remakes, the cartoon story was a forceful unit of the company’s Renaissance period.
The Disney Resurgence
The deaths of Walt and Roy O. Disney rattled the animation company. Walt Disney Studios experienced a creative and, subsequently, financial slump for nearly two decades following Roy’s 1971 death.
It began with the desertion of animator Don Bluth, who left to launch a rival production studio with 11 other Disney animators, and continued with the emergence of yet-untested rivals.
After an organizational change, which saw the rise of former Warner Bros. executive Frank Wells and Paramount Pictures executives Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Disney’s fortune began to change. A collaboration with Steven Spielberg on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” put the animation department back on the map.
And, over the next decade, Disney made its comeback.
What is now known as the Disney Renaissance — the 11-year creative span from 1989 through 1999 — saw the production of 10 of the most profitable feature films, which earned acclaim in the form of several Academy Awards and nominations.
The Renaissance Creations
The popular productions have had long-lasting impact on company value with ongoing sales of Blu-rays, DVDs and, at the time of release, VCR tapes. But their box office earnings have been most influential.
- “The Little Mermaid” (1989) — $84,355,863, or $165,720,494 in 2017 dollars.
- “The Rescuers Down Under” (1990) — $27,931,461, or $52,059,584 in 2017 dollars.
- “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) — $145,863,363, or $260,886,585 in 2017 dollars.
- “Aladdin” (1992) — $217,350,219, or $377,385,356 in 2017 dollars.
- “The Lion King” (1994) — $312,855,561, por $514,254,745 in 2017 dollars.
- “Pocahontas (1995) — $141,579,773, or $226,307,464 in 2017 dollars.
- “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996) — $100,138,851, or $155,475,618 in 2017 dollars.
- “Hercules” (1997) — $99,112,101, or $150,429,939 in 2017 dollars.
- “Mulan” (1998) — $120,620,254, or $180,266,600 in 2017 dollars.
- “Tarzan” (1999) — $171,091,819, or $250,170,951 in 2017 dollars.
“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King” were successful enough for later re-releases in IMAX and 3D, which garnered more box office revenue.
Despite the in-theater impact of these films, their releases corresponded with varying market reactions. Public consensus and critical reviews were overwhelmingly positive, but investors responded with less certainty. The weeks following releases saw pops and drops and bouts of stagnation on the Disney stock chart.
The Future Of Classic Disney
"Beauty and the Beast" is the first of the Renaissance films to be remade into live-action, and “Mulan” will follow with a November 2018 release.
The company has also announced upcoming productions of “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and “Aladdin.”
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