Animated Anniversary: Memory Lane Magic (Part 1)
Updated: Feb 2, 2019
I, Jess Salafia, thrive on keeping my eyes peeled and ears pricked for the exciting new projects and happenings that Disney continues to dish up, but my heart truly sings when celebrating the Studio’s animated masterpieces on (or around) their birthdays.
In this very first article of the Animated Anniversary series, I review a handful of animated features that celebrate their birthdays (i.e. their United States release date) in December, January and February.
Disney December babies include The Princess and the Frog, The Emperor’s New Groove, The Aristocats, and The Sword in the Stone.
The Princess and the Frog was released on December 11, 2009 and marked a nostalgic return to traditional hand-drawn animation. Following its December release, Disney’s 48th animated feature film grossed $24.2 million, ranking number 1 on its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $267 million worldwide, becoming the fifth-highest-grossing animated film of 2009.
Nine years prior, audiences threw off Emperor Kuzco’s groove after his namesake film performed poorly at the box office. The Emperor’s New Groove, Disney’s 40th animated feature film, was released on December 15, 2000. Overall, the $100-million-budget film grossed $89.3 million at the United States box office and an additional $80 million worldwide. Although the film’s release paled in comparison to a string of Disney hits in the 1990s, it later found considerable success in home media where it became the top-selling DVD release of 2001.
Thirty years prior to Yzma and Kronk’s scheming, Disney’s 20th animated feature film The Aristocats was the most popular general release movie at the British box office, and second most popular in France in the early 70s. It was originally released to theaters on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1970, and went on to gross a total $191 million for its lifetime at the worldwide box office.
Seven years prior to everybody wanting to be a cat, Disney released its 18th animated feature film, The Sword in the Stone, on Christmas Day, December 25, 1963. The film was a success at the box office, becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of 1963. It received a lifetime gross of just over $22 million in North America. Wart and Merlin’s adventures marked the final Disney animated film release before Walt Disney’s death in 1966.
Once Upon A(n expensive) Dream, on January 29, 1959, Disney released its 16th animated feature film, Sleeping Beauty. It was the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, and with production costs at $6 million, it was the most expensive Disney film up to that point. Due to its under-performance and initial mixed reception, Sleeping Beauty was the last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale until the release of The Little Mermaid 30 years later. I am so excited to celebrate Princess Aurora’s 60th anniversary in at D23's Magical Screening on February 16!
Three years after the hugely successful release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfscame Pinocchio. Disney’s second animated feature film was released on February 7, 1940. Although the film was not initially a box-office success (Disney only recouped $1 million by late 1940 of its $2.289 million negative cost), Geppetto’s stringless boy became the first Disney film to win Academy Awards for Best Original Song (When You Wish Upon a Star) and Best Original Score.