Through the tail end of the 70s and the early 80s, Disney Animation was floundering. Movies like Basil The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company and The Black Cauldron looked pretty but weren’t drawing in the crowds, largely because the company had lost its storytelling magic.
Then along came 1989’s The Little Mermaid, kicking off a remarkable run of critical, commercial and audience success that included Beauty & The Beast, The Lion King and Aladdin. While Disney Animation is perhaps most often thought of for its fairy tale movies, this was actually the first film the company had made based on a bona fide fairy story (this time one by Hans Christian Anderson) since Sleeping Beauty in 1959. They also threw a lot more money, time and effort at it than they had for years, even opening new studios to handle the artistic challenge, not least hand-drawing millions of bubble. [Read more…]