Shuffling the Canon REDUX: A Shuffled Disney & Pixar TL Redone

So Snow White is the Transition film between the Golden Age/Package Film eras and the Silver Age? It definitely feels like it represents both eras so it’s an interesting touch.
Mostly. Snow White ITTL is basically an analogue to OTL’s Cinderella, known for saving the Walt Disney Studio after the Wartime Era.
 
Dumbo (1950)
Taken from "Taking Flight: A Special 40th Anniversary Documentary of Disney's Dumbo", produced 1990

Ollie Johnston: The story of Dumbo had a complicated history. The book it was based on was almost scrapped, then the feature film itself had an equally troubled production. Walt wanted Dumbo to be his 5th or 6th feature, but production was heavily scaled back as bigger projects like "Atlantis" took its slot. By the time the preliminary script was completed, Pearl Harbour happened and Dumbo was pushed back even further, way into the late 1940s.

Frank Thomas: I think it was '48 or '49 when Walt finally started designing character model sheets and actual storyboards. As you can see from these model sheets, Mrs Jumbo originally had a bigger role. And then there was this mouse sidekick for Dumbo, but we scrapped it as it strayed too far from the original story. Ultimately we kept the robin character in, and that's how Dumbo's little feathered friend Rusty came to be.

Ward Kimball: Compared to Atlantis, Hunchback and Snow White before it, the characters in Dumbo were less realistic. In fact we initially envisioned Dumbo as sort of a long Silly Symphony. Walt assigned me to a lot of characters, everybody else was quite jealous as they were stuck with the more realistic characters of Snow White and Atlantis, while I had loads of fun animating the goofy ringmaster and Rusty. In fact I designed the ringmaster around myslf, so he's really a self-caricature of me.

Narrator: To cut costs, watercolor paint was used to paint the film's backgrounds, the first film to do so since the Little Mermaid. This gave the film a unique style, making it so most scenes looked like paintings shown on the screen.

Leonard Maltin: One of my favourite things about Dumbo is how the animators managed to create such a beautiful film without using the extravagant effects. It didn't have the same visuals as the Hunchback of Notre Dame and certainly couldn't comapre to Atlantis and Fantasia, but it's still such an artistic masterpiece without trying to be an artistic masterpiece.

Narrator: Dumbo was released in the summer of 1950 to critical acclaim. Dumbo had followed Snow White as a success, and it was only the start of a long streak of successful films, known today as the Disney Silver Age.

---

"Walt Disney soars with his new hit "Dumbo"!" - Taken from the New York Times, August 1st 1950

---

Dumbo the baby elephant is delivered to Ms Jumbo by a stork. Dumbo is immediately ridiculed for his long ears and ruins the big act, causing the big top to come crashing down and injuring the other elephants. A small robin named Rusty takes pity on Dumbo and cheers him up by drinking “water” together. They both get drunk and dream of pink elephants, waking up on a tree where the wise Doctor Crow resides. Doctor Crow deduces that Dumbo’s large ears are for flying. The rest of the film revolves around Rusty and Doctor Crow training Dumbo for his ultimate big act: The Flying Elephant.

The film was another success for Disney. With a mere $850000 budget, the film grossed more than double of its budget, earning $2 million in its initial release and more during its subsequent re-releases. With two financial successes, the Disney Studio was officially back on track.

Release Date: July 26th 1950

Cast:
Jimmy MacDonald (Dumbo) (1)
Sterling Holloway (Stork)
Verna Felton (Ms Jumbo and the Elephant Matriarch)
Luis van Rooten (The Ringmaster)
Dink Trout (Rusty Robin) (2)
Cab Calloway (Doctor Crow)

Notable Songs:
Casey Jr (sung by the Mellomen)
Look Out for Mister Stork (sung by the Mellomen during the stork's delivery of Dumbo)
Baby Mine (sung by Ms Jumbo when caressing Dumbo)
Pink Elephants on Parade (sung by the Mellomen during the drunk scene)

(1) Dumbo doesn't actually speak, Jimmy MacDonald only provides additional voice effects for the character.
(2) Dink Trout's final film role before his death.

Notes: Since Dumbo appears only 9 years after OTL, I didn't want it to be the exact same film as it is IOTL. Here, the storyline follows the original book more closely and the rousatabout scene is cut for obvious reasons. Doctor Crow still garners some controversy but the scene here isn't as stereotypical as OTL's Dandy Crow.
 
Next up is the 1951 film and I am extremely excited to start writing about it. In fact, I already have most of the storyline and production planned so expect it sometime soon.

In the meantime, I'm announcing that I'm re-shuffling the Pixar line-up. Since Snow White isn't the first film here, I see no particular reason why Toy Story has to be Pixar's first film ITTL.
 
Taken from "Taking Flight: A Special 40th Anniversary Documentary of Disney's Dumbo", produced 1990

Ollie Johnston: The story of Dumbo had a complicated history. The book it was based on was almost scrapped, then the feature film itself had an equally troubled production. Walt wanted Dumbo to be his 5th or 6th feature, but production was heavily scaled back as bigger projects like "Atlantis" took its slot. By the time the preliminary script was completed, Pearl Harbour happened and Dumbo was pushed back even further, way into the late 1940s.

Frank Thomas: I think it was '48 or '49 when Walt finally started designing character model sheets and actual storyboards. As you can see from these model sheets, Mrs Jumbo originally had a bigger role. And then there was this mouse sidekick for Dumbo, but we scrapped it as it strayed too far from the original story. Ultimately we kept the robin character in, and that's how Dumbo's little feathered friend Rusty came to be.

Ward Kimball: Compared to Atlantis, Hunchback and Snow White before it, the characters in Dumbo were less realistic. In fact we initially envisioned Dumbo as sort of a long Silly Symphony. Walt assigned me to a lot of characters, everybody else was quite jealous as they were stuck with the more realistic characters of Snow White and Atlantis, while I had loads of fun animating the goofy ringmaster and Rusty. In fact I designed the ringmaster around myslf, so he's really a self-caricature of me.

Narrator: To cut costs, watercolor paint was used to paint the film's backgrounds, the first film to do so since the Little Mermaid. This gave the film a unique style, making it so most scenes looked like paintings shown on the screen.

Leonard Maltin: One of my favourite things about Dumbo is how the animators managed to create such a beautiful film without using the extravagant effects. It didn't have the same visuals as the Hunchback of Notre Dame and certainly couldn't comapre to Atlantis and Fantasia, but it's still such an artistic masterpiece without trying to be an artistic masterpiece.

Narrator: Dumbo was released in the summer of 1950 to critical acclaim. Dumbo had followed Snow White as a success, and it was only the start of a long streak of successful films, known today as the Disney Silver Age.

---

"Walt Disney soars with his new hit "Dumbo"!" - Taken from the New York Times, August 1st 1950

---

Dumbo the baby elephant is delivered to Ms Jumbo by a stork. Dumbo is immediately ridiculed for his long ears and ruins the big act, causing the big top to come crashing down and injuring the other elephants. A small robin named Rusty takes pity on Dumbo and cheers him up by drinking “water” together. They both get drunk and dream of pink elephants, waking up on a tree where the wise Doctor Crow resides. Doctor Crow deduces that Dumbo’s large ears are for flying. The rest of the film revolves around Rusty and Doctor Crow training Dumbo for his ultimate big act: The Flying Elephant.

The film was another success for Disney. With a mere $850000 budget, the film grossed more than double of its budget, earning $2 million in its initial release and more during its subsequent re-releases. With two financial successes, the Disney Studio was officially back on track.

Release Date: July 26th 1950

Cast:
Jimmy MacDonald (Dumbo) (1)
Sterling Holloway (Stork)
Verna Felton (Ms Jumbo and the Elephant Matriarch)
Luis van Rooten (The Ringmaster)
Dink Trout (Rusty Robin) (2)
Cab Calloway (Doctor Crow)

Notable Songs:
Casey Jr (sung by the Mellomen)
Look Out for Mister Stork (sung by the Mellomen during the stork's delivery of Dumbo)
Baby Mine (sung by Ms Jumbo when caressing Dumbo)
Pink Elephants on Parade (sung by the Mellomen during the drunk scene)

(1) Dumbo doesn't actually speak, Jimmy MacDonald only provides additional voice effects for the character.
(2) Dink Trout's final film role before his death.

Notes: Since Dumbo appears only 9 years after OTL, I didn't want it to be the exact same film as it is IOTL. Here, the storyline follows the original book more closely and the rousatabout scene is cut for obvious reasons. Doctor Crow still garners some controversy but the scene here isn't as stereotypical as OTL's Dandy Crow.
So no Timothy the Mouse? I think that's the one thing ITTL's Dumbo that i will miss from OTL's Dumbo. But I can see how Rusty Robin would be more faithful to the original story.
Next up is the 1951 film and I am extremely excited to start writing about it. In fact, I already have most of the storyline and production planned so expect it sometime soon.

In the meantime, I'm announcing that I'm re-shuffling the Pixar line-up. Since Snow White isn't the first film here, I see no particular reason why Toy Story has to be Pixar's first film ITTL.
Would you consider the 1951 film your favorite? If so, I can already see why based on the fact that most of the storyline and production are already planned. Also, I'm genuinely speculating what the first Pixar film will be ITTL?
 
So no Timothy the Mouse?
Sadly nope, but Rusty has a similar personality to Timothy

But I can see how Rusty Robin would be more faithful to the original story.
The original story had a robin sidekick, so yea it is more faithful.

Would you consider the 1951 film your favorite?
Not really my all-time favourite, we won't be seeing that for quite some time. But I am a big fan of OTL's counterpart, that's why I'm excited to see how it'll turn out here.

Also, I'm genuinely speculating what the first Pixar film will be ITTL?
We'll se what it is when we get there.
 
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1951)
Taken from "A Christmas Miracle: The Making of Disney's Nightmare Before Christmas", produced 1993

Ollie Johnston: I'm not sure where Walt got the idea of combining Christmas and Halloween into one film. I think it was Norm Ferguson who pitched the idea back in the 1930s, most of our film ideas came from Ferguson anyways. We started developing a storyline when 1941 rolled around and shelved the film as World War 2 came and went.

Frank Thomas: A lot of ideas were tossed around during our story meetings. For one, the film was originally centered around the villain Jack Skellington. Skellington was to have this idea where he would bring Christmas to Halloween Town, we all liked the story except for Walt, who felt that Skellington was far too unlikeable. So for the second draft, we made Skellington the villain and centered the film around Santa Claus. Before the film went into full production, we added this little girl character named Karina so the film feels more fleshed out.

Narrator: For the voice cast, Walt wanted a voice that sounds English enough to make Karina more dignified, but also American enough to not put off Americans. Walt found the voice in the form of Kathryn Beaumont.

Kathryn Beaumont: I think the most memorable part about working with Disney was how they used actos as a model for the animators. Not only did I voice Karina, I also helped model her in a few scenes. Watching the film now, it's like I'm watching a younger version of myself run around and battling Jack Skellington.

Narrator: When production wrapped up on the Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt couldn't decide on whether to release the film on Halloween or Christmas, so he made a compromise: The film would release around Thanksgiving.

Ollie Johnston: Walt himself wasn't too thrilled with the final product either, he only re-released the film after his death.

Leonard Maltin: When the film first premiered, it was a box office bomb. Not many people praised the film and the critics of 1951 tore it apart for its lackluster plot. Despite this, the film would garner a huge following after its 1974 re-release. A lot of people really enjoy this film, even to this day. Families gather around to watch the film in Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or anytime they want. It's a timeless film that's extremely entertaining.

---

First proposed by animator Norman Ferguson, The Nightmare Before Christmas would be the studio's first Holiday film and also their first semi-original film. Initially set for a 1941 release, difficulties in developing the story caused the film to be pushed back and shelved until 1948, when Walt revived the film alongside Dumbo. The plot went through 2 revisions before the final storyline was set, based off the Christmas poem "The Night Before Christmas", the 1939 booklet "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland". There was an internal studio competition to see whether Dumbo or The Nightmare Before Christmas would wrap up production first, ultimately Dumbo was fast-tracked to become the studio's 12th feature while the latter was set for a 1951 release.

On Christmas Eve, a young girl named Karina wishes to catch Santa in the act. Karina falls asleep waiting for Santa and gets woken up by Elfonso, Santa's second in command. Karina and Elfonso travel to the North Pole where the elves reveal that the North Pole has been attacked by the Pumpkin King Jack Skellington. Karina visits Santa and offers help to take down Skellington and save Christmas. Karina and Santa explore Halloween Town and meet the quirky but terrifying residents of Halloween Town, including Professor Spooks, Sally the Stitched Witch, the Zombie Trio and Oogie Boogie the Bogey-man. Karina and Santa spot Jack Skellington commanding the troops of Halloween and take them down with help from the elves. The rest of the film revolves around Karina and Santa saving Christmas by delivering gifts around the world with Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The film first released in 1951 alongside the animated short "The Walrus and the Carpenter", based off the Lewis Carroll poem of the same name. It wasn't the success the animators nor Walt was hoping for. The film received mixed reactions from audiences but critics practically tore the film apart. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" wouldn't receive a significant following nor re-coup its financial losses until its 1974 and subsequent re-releases.

Release Date: November 20th 1951

Cast:
Kathryn Beaumount (Karina)
Candy Candido (Elfonso, Oogie Boogie) (1)
Jimmy MacDonald, Pinto Colvig and Clarence Nash (Elves) (2)
Bill Thompson (Santa Claus)
J Pat O'Malley (Jack Skellington)
Richard Haydn (Professor Spooks)
Eleanor Audley (Sally)
Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna and Mel Blanc (The Zombie Trio)

Notable Songs:
Beyond the Laughing Sky (sung by Karina during the film's opening scene) (3)
March of the Halloween Troops (instrumental only, played during the march of Jack's Halloween Troops) (4)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (sung by the Disney Studio Chorus during Rudolph's flight)

(1) Candy Candido's voice is pitched up for Elfonso, but remains unedited for Oogie Boogie
(2) In addition to voicing various elf characters, Jimmy MacDonald also provides the voice for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
(3) Since Beyond the Laughing Sky is here, TTL's Peter Pan will not include the Second Star to the Right
(4) Known IOTL as "March of the Cards/Painting the Roses Red", here only the instrumental part is used

Notes: And here we have the first OTL Non-WDAC film shuffled into TTL'S WDAC. As I mentioned, the plot is a combination of "The Night Before Christmas", "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Alice in Wonderland". Reception and legacy-wise, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is essentially an analogue to "Alice in Wonderland", most notably bombing in the box office and hated upon release despite being seen as one of Disney's greatest films in his lifetime.
 
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I'm announcing that the rest of the 1950s should be done within this year. As such, I will be dropping a few hints for what films have landed in the 1950s:

1953: An ambitious film both IOTL and ITTL
1955: Talking animals are the main focus
1959: Features both light-hearted and dark tones
 
Taken from "A Christmas Miracle: The Making of Disney's Nightmare Before Christmas", produced 1993

Ollie Johnston: I'm not sure where Walt got the idea of combining Christmas and Halloween into one film. I think it was Norm Ferguson who pitched the idea back in the 1930s, most of our film ideas came from Ferguson anyways. We started developing a storyline when 1941 rolled around and shelved the film as World War 2 came and went.

Frank Thomas: A lot of ideas were tossed around during our story meetings. For one, the film was originally centered around the villain Jack Skellington. Skellington was to have this idea where he would bring Christmas to Halloween Town, we all liked the story except for Walt, who felt that Skellington was far too unlikeable. So for the second draft, we made Skellington the villain and centered the film around Santa Claus. Before the film went into full production, we added this little girl character named Karina so the film feels more fleshed out.

Narrator: For the voice cast, Walt wanted a voice that sounds English enough to make Karina more dignified, but also American enough to not put off Americans. Walt found the voice in the form of Kathryn Beaumont.

Kathryn Beaumont: I think the most memorable part about working with Disney was how they used actos as a model for the animators. Not only did I voice Karina, I also helped model her in a few scenes. Watching the film now, it's like I'm watching a younger version of myself run around and battling Jack Skellington.

Narrator: When production wrapped up on the Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt couldn't decide on whether to release the film on Halloween or Christmas, so he made a compromise: The film would release around Thanksgiving.

Ollie Johnston: Walt himself wasn't too thrilled with the final product either, he only re-released the film after his death.

Leonard Maltin: When the film first premiered, it was a box office bomb. Not many people praised the film and the critics of 1951 tore it apart for its lackluster plot. Despite this, the film would garner a huge following after its 1974 re-release. A lot of people really enjoy this film, even to this day. Families gather around to watch the film in Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or anytime they want. It's a timeless film that's extremely entertaining.

---

First proposed by animator Norman Ferguson, The Nightmare Before Christmas would be the studio's first Holiday film and also their first semi-original film. Initially set for a 1941 release, difficulties in developing the story caused the film to be pushed back and shelved until 1948, when Walt revived the film alongside Dumbo. The plot went through 2 revisions before the final storyline was set, based off the Christmas poem "The Night Before Christmas", the 1939 booklet "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland". There was an internal studio competition to see whether Dumbo or The Nightmare Before Christmas would wrap up production first, ultimately Dumbo was fast-tracked to become the studio's 12th feature while the latter was set for a 1951 release.

On Christmas Eve, a young girl named Karina wishes to catch Santa in the act. Karina falls asleep waiting for Santa and gets woken up by Elfonso, Santa's second in command. Karina and Elfonso travel to the North Pole where the elves reveal that the North Pole has been attacked by the Pumpkin King Jack Skellington. Karina visits Santa and offers help to take down Skellington and save Christmas. Karina and Santa explore Halloween Town and meet the quirky but terrifying residents of Halloween Town, including Professor Spooks, Sally the Stitched Witch, the Zombie Trio and Oogie Boogie the Bogey-man. Karina and Santa spot Jack Skellington commanding the troops of Halloween and take them down with help from the elves. The rest of the film revolves around Karina and Santa saving Christmas by delivering gifts around the world with Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

When the film first released in 1951, it wasn't the success the animators nor Walt was hoping for. The film received mixed reactions from audiences but critics practically tore the film apart. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" wouldn't receive a significant following nor re-coup its financial losses until its 1974 and subsequent re-releases.

Release Date: November 20th 1951

Cast:
Kathryn Beaumount (Karina)
Candy Candido (Elfonso, Oogie Boogie) (1)
Jimmy MacDonald, Pinto Colvig and Clarence Nash (Elves) (2)
Bill Thompson (Santa Claus)
J Pat O'Malley (Jack Skellington)
Richard Haydn (Professor Spooks)
Eleanor Audley (Sally)
Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna and Groucho Marx (The Zombie Trio)

Notable Songs:
Beyond the Laughing Sky (sung by Karina during the film's opening scene) (3)
March of the Halloween Troops (instrumental only, played during the march of Jack's Halloween Troops) (4)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (sung by the Disney Studio Chorus during Rudolph's flight)

(1) Candy Candido's voice is pitched up for Elfonso, but remains unedited for Oogie Boogie
(2) In addition to voicing various elf characters, Jimmy MacDonald also provides the voice for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
(3) Since Beyond the Laughing Sky is here, TTL's Peter Pan will not include the Second Star to the Right
(4) Known IOTL as "March of the Cards/Painting the Roses Red", here only the instrumental part is used

Notes: And here we have the first OTL Non-WDAC film shuffled into TTL'S WDAC. As I mentioned, the plot is a combination of "The Night Before Christmas", "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Alice in Wonderland". Reception and legacy-wise, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is essentially an analogue to "Alice in Wonderland", most notably bombing in the box office and hated upon release despite being seen as one of Disney's greatest films in his lifetime.
I was considering adding The Nightmare Before Christmas to my own shuffled list but decided against it since I didn't want to touch Touchstone. Anyway, without the original poem OTL's film is based on being written yet, this plot makes a significant number of sense although I genuinely wonder how Alice in Wonderland will be handled ITTL based on this information.
I'm announcing that the rest of the 1950s should be done within this year. As such, I will be dropping a few hints for what films have landed in the 1950s:

1953: An ambitious film both IOTL and ITTL
1955: Talking animals are the main focus
1959: Features both light-hearted and dark tones
For 1953, I'm guessing Pinocchio, Bambi, or Treasure Planet. There are too many options to consider for 1955 so I'm not going to bother and try with that one. As for 1959, you pretty much gave it away earlier in this timeline, so it goes without saying here.
 
I’m guessing there won’t be a Walrus and The Carpenter Segment ITTL’s version of Alice when the time comes?
It's too early to directly confirm that the Walrus and the Carpenter will or will not show up in Alice. So my answer will be maybe or maybe not.

In fact, expect Alice to be vastly different from OTL in terms of storyline.
 
I forgot to mention one particular butterfly: Bobby Driscoll isn't as popular IOTL and ceases to become a child actor sometime after the release of "The Jungle Book", therefore Driscoll lives past 1968.
 
The Black Cauldron (1953)
Taken from "The Story Behind Disney's Dark Tale: The Black Cauldron", produced 1990

Narrator: After three consecutive comedic and charming films including "Snow White" and "Dumbo", Walt decided to try something new. With the help of the creative folks at the studio and some inspiration from Welsh mythology, Walt crafted "The Black Cauldron".

Frank Thomas: "The Black Cauldron" was a complete tonal whiplash after the three previous Silver Age films. Here instead of supprotive sidekicks like Rusty from Dumbo, we have all sorts of villainous characters stopping and shocking our heroes. Of course, Ollie and I had tons of fun animating those freaks, all of them made for memorable villains in their own right that's for sure.

Ollie Johnston: The titular Black Cauldron was initially a character itself, acting as the de facto comic relief in an otherwise horror film that provides free reign to the villains. Halfway through, Walt scrapped the initial script and has the storymen refine it so it's more mature and dark. The titular cauldron became the main goal for our heroes and it's really where the story revolved around.

Narrator: To increase the film's tone and ambition, it was decided that all songs written and recorded for the film would be cut.

Frank Thomas: There was the villain song which had vivid visuals and striking lyrics, originally sung by Dame Giragina titled "The Cauldron Song". Ultimately it was cut and it's really a shame to see something so wonderful and vivid being omitted from the final release.

Narrator: Production on "The Black Cauldron" wrapped up in December 1952 and "The Black Cauldron" premiered on February 5th 1953.

Ward Kimball: Many people called this film "Disney's New Folly" when it was first released. They're not entirely wrong, the film performed only so and so financially but crtically? People loved this film, especially its use of strong visuals, excellent characterisation and equally impeccable voice acting.

Leonard Maltin: Because of the film's critical success, it spawned a whole new genre of dark-fantasy animation and media. Films, books and shows we see today all contain elements derived from this very film. Even Disney's later films produced in the 80s had some darker and more mature tones which directly call back to those seen here. "The Black Cauldron" was a risky idea which Walt executed perfectly, and that's why it's still such a classic today.

---

"The Black Cauldron" was the result of Walt's ambition to make a dark fantasy feature. Walt first came across the idea of mythology told through animation when he was selecting music pieces for early production on Fantasia. "Ride of the Valkyries" and "The Pastoral Symphony" were both considered before being omitted from the final product, but this sparked an interest in mythology for Walt. Walt and his team considered adapting the tales of Hercules (which would later become the basis of a 1990s feature), Norse mythology and even Arabian and Chinese folktales. Ultimately Walt settled on Welsh and English myths. Intended for a 1942 or 1943 release, the film's budget and ambition, coupled with World War 2 caused delays in production. The film ended up far behind in production and wouldn't be completed until 1952.

The film starts off with the Welsh legend Lludd ruling over Wales. Lludd and his brother Llefelys soon depart for a journey to France in order to help Llefelys marry the fair princess. In their journey, Lludd comes across the town of London plagued with illnesses and demons. This was the doing of Dame Giragina, a wicked witch who curses London with three deadly plagues and demons before planning to conquer all of the British Isles with the Black Cauldron, which she uses to raise the undead and brew plagues. Lludd and Llefelys must travel through the Dark Lands and face off against demons and the infamous Black Wizard before taking out Giragina, destroy the Black Cauldron and restore peace to London and the Isles.

"The Black Cauldron" premiered on February 5th 1953 alongside the documentary short "Bear Country". With an approximately $3.5 million budget, the film grossed little over $3.75 million, not the big success Walt had hoped for but it wasn't a financial failure either, it performed right in the middle of the road. Critically, the film was met with tremendous praise, mostly for its strong characterization and voice acting, with more than compensated for the film's lack of songs.

Release Date: February 5th 1953 (premiere, February 18th 1953 (general release)

Cast:
Larry Roberts (Lludd)
Robert Ellis (Llefelys)
Eleanor Audley (Dame Giragina)
Jimmy MacDonald (Demons and other creatures) (1)
Candy Candido (the Black Wizard)
Kathryn Beaumount (The Princess) (2)

(1) Jimmy MacDonald only provides voice effects for the demons and other creatures, not actual voice lines
(2) Beaumount only has one to two lines in the entire film

Notes: Since OTL's Chronicles of Prydain (which OTL's Black Cauldron was based off) more or less took cues from Welsh mythology, I based TTL's Black Cauldron off exactly that. Despite me saying that the film doesn't have any songs, its score actually takes cues from both OTL's Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, with a darker tone to fit the film's storyline more
 
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Taken from "The Story Behind Disney's Dark Tale: The Black Cauldron", produced 1990

Narrator: After three consecutive comedic and charming films including "Snow White" and "Dumbo", Walt decided to try something new. With the help of the creative folks at the studio and some inspiration from Welsh mythology, Walt crafted "The Black Cauldron".

Frank Thomas: "The Black Cauldron" was a complete tonal whiplash after the three previous Silver Age films. Here instead of supprotive sidekicks like Rusty from Dumbo, we have all sorts of villainous characters stopping and shocking our heroes. Of course, Ollie and I had tons of fun animating those freaks, all of them made for memorable villains in their own right that's for sure.

Ollie Johnston: The titular Black Cauldron was initially a character itself, acting as the de facto comic relief in an otherwise horror film that provides free reign to the villains. Halfway through, Walt scrapped the initial script and has the storymen refine it so it's more mature and dark. The titular cauldron became the main goal for our heroes and it's really where the story revolved around.

Narrator: To increase the film's tone and ambition, it was decided that all songs written and recorded for the film would be cut.

Frank Thomas: There was the villain song which had vivid visuals and striking lyrics, originally sung by Dame Giragina titled "The Cauldron Song". Ultimately it was cut and it's really a shame to see something so wonderful and vivid being omitted from the final release.

Narrator: Production on "The Black Cauldron" wrapped up in December 1952 and "The Black Cauldron" premiered on February 5th 1953.

Ward Kimball: Many people called this film "Disney's New Folly" when it was first released. They're not entirely wrong, the film performed only so and so financially but crtically? People loved this film, especially its use of strong visuals, excellent characterisation and equally impeccable voice acting.

Leonard Maltin: Because of the film's critical success, it spawned a whole new genre of dark-fantasy animation and media. Films, books and shows we see today all contain elements derived from this very film. Even Disney's later films produced in the 80s had some darker and more mature tones which directly call back to those seen here. "The Black Cauldron" was a risky idea which Walt executed perfectly, and that's why it's still such a classic today.

---

"The Black Cauldron" was the result of Walt's ambition to make a dark fantasy feature. Walt first came across the idea of mythology told through animation when he was selecting music pieces for early production on Fantasia. "Ride of the Valkyries" and "The Pastoral Symphony" were both considered before being omitted from the final product, but this sparked an interest in mythology for Walt. Walt and his team considered adapting the tales of Hercules (which would later become the basis of a 1990s feature), Norse mythology and even Arabian and Chinese folktales. Ultimately Walt settled on Welsh and English myths. Intended for a 1942 or 1943 release, the film's budget and ambition, coupled with World War 2 caused delays in production. The film ended up far behind in production and wouldn't be completed until 1952.

The film starts off with the Welsh legend Lludd ruling over Wales. Lludd and his brother Llefelys soon depart for a journey to France in order to help Llefelys marry the fair princess. In their journey, Lludd comes across the town of London plagued with illnesses and demons. This was the doing of Dame Giragina, a wicked witch who curses London with three deadly plagues and demons before planning to conquer all of the British Isles with the Black Cauldron, which she uses to raise the undead and brew plagues. Lludd and Llefelys must travel through the Dark Lands and face off against demons and the infamous Black Wizard before taking out Giragina, destroy the Black Cauldron and restore peace to London and the Isles.

"The Black Cauldron" premiered on February 5th 1953 alongside the documentary short "Bear Country". With an approximately $990,000 budget, the film grossed little over a million, not the big success Walt had hoped for but it wasn't a financial failure either, it performed right in the middle of the road. Critically, the film was met with tremendous praise, mostly for its strong characterization and voice acting, with more than compensated for the film's lack of songs.

Release Date: February 5th 1953 (premiere, February 18th 1953 (general release)

Cast:
Larry Roberts (Lludd)
Robert Ellis (Llefelys)
Eleanor Audley (Dame Giragina)
Jimmy MacDonald (Demons and other creatures) (1)
Candy Candido (the Black Wizard)
Kathryn Beaumount (The Princess) (2)

(1) Jimmy MacDonald only provides voice effects for the demons and other creatures, not actual voice lines
(2) Beaumount only has one to two lines in the entire film

Notes: Since OTL's Chronicles of Prydain (which OTL's Black Cauldron was based off) more or less took cues from Welsh mythology, I based TTL's Black Cauldron off exactly that. Despite me saying that the film doesn't have any songs, its score actually takes cues from both OTL's Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, with a darker tone to fit the film's storyline more
Glad that the Black Cauldron is much more revered than OTL’s version at least from a critical perspective. Usually I would object to the lack of songs in this time period but I think having much in the way of music would’ve hindered it ITTL. Having said that, I think $990,000 is way too cheap for a movie to be made in the 1950s given how ambitious it was. For reference, OTL’s Dumbo’s budget adjusted for inflation in 1953 dollars would be $1.65 million or so. I think the cheapest Silver Age movie IOTL was Cinderella at $2.2 million. And I also wonder how the animation looks here in this film.
 
Glad that the Black Cauldron is much more revered than OTL’s version at least from a critical perspective. Usually I would object to the lack of songs in this time period but I think having much in the way of music would’ve hindered it ITTL. Having said that, I think $990,000 is way too cheap for a movie to be made in the 1950s given how ambitious it was. For reference, OTL’s Dumbo’s budget adjusted for inflation in 1953 dollars would be $1.65 million or so. I think the cheapest Silver Age movie IOTL was Cinderella at $2.2 million. And I also wonder how the animation looks here in this film.
For the budget, I think I'll change it to the same budget OTL's Peter Pan had, which was $4 million. This might affect how the film performs in the box office however. As for the animation, it's similar to all the other Silver Era films prior to the Xerox method. Only difference is that the film resembles a mix of Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty.
 
The Lion King (1955)
Taken from an interview with Walt Disney on Disneyland's Opening Day, July 17th 1955

Interviewer: ...and Mr Disney the kids here are equally excited for your next feature as they are for Disneyland.

Walt Disney: Yes indeed they are. In fact the boys over at the studio are working hard on our next feature, which will release this year so I do hope everyone is as excited was we are over at Walt Disney Studios.

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Taken from "Lion Around: How Disney's Lion King Came to Be", produced 1994

Narrator: Walt Disney had wanted to craft an animal-centric film for a very long time. Ultimately after 15 years of work, the idea finally became reality as "The Lion King".

Joe Grant: During the earliest development stages of "The Lion King", Walt wanted to make "Bambi" and even "Bongo", which was a little story about a circus bear living in the wild. The storymen and I essentially took that concept and crafted an entirely new story based around another species of animals. We were thinking of dogs, cats, bears, a lot of other animals before we settled on lions for the final cut.

Frank Thomas: We wanted to make the animation look as smooth and realistic as possible. Therefore Walt brought in all sorts of animals for reference, except for the lions, we had to go to a zoo for that one.

Ollie Johnston: Even though we did make "Bongo" in the 60s and 70s,we took a lot of inspiration from that and "Bambi" for the main storyline. We made a few drafts for the original dog version back in the 1940s, but ultimately the storymen and Walt felt that the draft lacked charm and was overall boring. That and World War 2 was why we shelved the project until after we did "The Nightmare Before Christmas", when Walt revisited the idea with lions.

Frank Thomas: In the first 1950s draft, Simba initially had parents who raised him in the zoo. There was this one scene where Mufasa causes a stir in the zoo and was shot, which ultimately causes Simba to run away in the first place. We had to cut that scene and Simba's parents in general, as it affected the plot tonally and dragged the film on.

Ward Kimball: I was wondering who would get the juicy job of animating Scar, and then I heard that Walt wanted me to do it. Since I specialised in animating the wackier stuff, animating a semi-realistic lion was pretty challenging.

Leonard Maltin: "The Lion King" is a gorgeous film with amazing animation and story. It's just an entertaining timeless classic that every Disney fan and animation fan in general should watch.

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Walt had experimented with animals in animation for a very long time, considering his biggest stars were Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. Unlike the former trio however, Walt wanted to produce a fully animal-centric feature. Initially considering both "Bongo the Circus Bear" and "Bambi: A Life in the Woods" with the latter even having a few storyboards created, a failure to re-write Bongo and MGM producing their own version of Bambi (1) would scrap Bambi entirely while Bongo was shelved until at least the 1960s. After multiple story meetings, the storymen settled on crafting an original plot which took cues from the former two existing stories.

The main hurdle was what animals would be the stars of this feature. The earliest drafts dating back to 1940 depicted dogs as main characters, with a few early models even appearing in the live-action segments of "The Emperor's New Groove". Walt scrapped these plans as dogs weren't engaging enough for a feature film. On December 7th 1941, the first draft that resembled the final film was finished, this time centered around lions., Unfortunately, the attack on Pearl Harbour happened that same day, causing the film to be shelved until the early 1950s. During production, Walt brought in a few other animals for reference and organised trips to the zoo to observe the lions themselves.

Simba is a young lion cub raised in a small local zoo. The other zoo animals, especially a laidback meekrat named Timon, educate Simba about the differences between zoo life and wildlife. As Simba grows, he gets more adamant about being the "King of the Jungle", ultimately he breaks out his cage with the help of Timon and escapes to the wild, where they meet the lionness Nala. Simba and Nala fall in love and Simba greatly enjoys wildlife until he crosses paths with Scar the vicious tiger. When Scar threatens to kill Nala and Timon and terrorise the wild and possibly the big city after Simba's arrival, Simba must prove himself and his title of "King of the Jungle" by saving the day.

As the initial release window of June 1955 approached, Walt realised that he needed more time to set up the new Cinemascope format in theaters, as some couldn't support the new format at the time. As a solution, Walt delayed the film by a few months and would release two versions of the film: One in Cinemascope and one with normal aspect ratio. "The Lion King" polarised critics when it first released. The film simply couldn't live up to the hype of "The Black Cauldron" before it, and yet it's use of Cinemascope was what made the film stand out and earn its praise. Nowadays, "The Lion King" is a classic in its own right.

Release Date: September 5th 1955

Cast:
Mel Blanc (Simba)
Bill Thompson (Timon)
Barbara Luddy (Nala)
Taylor Holmes (Scar)

Notable Songs:
Bella Notte (sung by an unseen choir during the opening credits and when Simba and Nala fall in love)

(1) Sidney Franklin goes through with the plans of a live-action Bambi film and releases it in either 1938 or 1939.

Notes: I wasn't expecting to be able to get "The Lion King" out this early, considering OTL's version was more or less an original story. TTL's Lion King despite being obviously inferior to what we got IOTL, is still a Disney Classic in its own right, being the substitute and analogue of "Lady and the Tramp". Storywise, it takes cues from "Bongo", "Bambi", OTL's "Lady and the Tramp" and even the original STC's "Lion King".
 
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