The Shuffled Disneyverse: An Alt Disney Timeline

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937):
  • Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937):

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    Before his very first feature, film, Walt Disney was primarily involved with the animation of Mickey Mouse and his friends and the Silly Symphonies series. By attempting to do a full-length feature, Disney had hoped to expand both the prestige and revenue of his animation studio. While fighting to have it produced, both his brother and wife tried to convince him not to go through with it. It didn’t help that Hollywood was dismissing his efforts and called it “Disney’s Folly” during production. But still, he pushed on anyway. Walt initially estimated a $250,000 budget for Snow White in 1934, which was ten times the budget of the average Silly Symphony short produced at the time. By the time production ended, the total cost of the film was close to $1.5 million, which was massive at the time. It was so expensive that Disney had to mortgage his house to help production and needed a loan of $250,000 midway through. Was the film worth the high production costs?

    Evidentially, the answer was yes. It was a simple feature that somehow managed to appeal to adults and children alike through its animation style, score, songs, setting, and story. The plot is as follows: The vain and wicked Queen Grimhilde asks her Magic Mirror on a daily basis who the fairest one of all is. Usually, the answer is the Queen herself but one day the answer is her stepdaughter Snow White. Due to the Queen’s jealousy, the young princess Snow White is forced to act as a scullery maid and dress in rags. Wishing for her true love, she catches the attention of Prince Florian and later the Evil Queen who orders a bounty for the death of her stepdaughter. She is urged to run away into the woods where she comes across a cottage that she later finds out belongs to seven magic Dwarves. They let her stay, and for the first time, Snow White feels like she is part of a family. When Grimhilde finds out she is still alive, she makes it her duty to find and kill her herself, setting in motion a chain of events that involves a poison apple and the chance for Snow White to find her love’s first kiss.

    It premiered in December 1937 at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. When it ended, Walt Disney earned massive applause from the audience, proving the naysayers wrong. In January 1938, it opened in New York and Miami before being placed into general release on February 4. When it finished its initial theatrical run, it earned over $7.8 million at the box office worldwide, making it the top grossing film ever at the time. At the 1939 Academy Awards, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs won Walt Disney an honorary Academy Award as presented by Shirley Temple, featuring a full-size Oscar statuette and seven miniature ones. It received universal acclaim at the time, with particular praise for the animation of the human characters and the performances of Adriana Caselotti as Snow White and Lucille La Verne as the Evil Queen Grimhilde. It was not the first color sound cartoon nor the first animated feature film but it was the first full-length cel-animated feature and certainly the first animate film to be successful. With the success of Snow White, Walt Disney soon looked to find other fairy tales to adapt into animated films.

    A/N: All the other films in the Disney and Pixar Animated Canon are randomized but I felt like I couldn't randomize Snow White out of being the first Disney film because I cannot imagine almost any other film having the same impact Snow White did. But starting from the next entry onward, all the titles are randomized. As far as the film TTL goes, it's mostly the same except that the dancing in the clouds sequence is kept in, all three assassination methods from the original story are considered before the Queen selects the apple, and the Prince has a somewhat more active role towards the end. Look for the next update soon.
     
    Cinderella (1940)
  • Cinderella (1940):

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    Even before the premiere of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs on December 21, 1937, Walt Disney was looking for other fairy tales to adapt. This next story was brought to Walt Disney’s attention in September 1937. Cinderella, a tale dating back to Ancient Greece, was something Walt Disney had in his head since 1922 when he produced a Laugh-O-Gram cartoon based on it and was interested in making another version as a Silly Symphony in December 1933. During the production of Snow White, though, Disney realized the story, which he based on Charles Perrault’s version, was too complex to be an animated short and prioritized its creation as a feature-length cartoon. Originally intended to be the third Disney animated film, Cinderella moved up in the pecking order by December so that it would be the second after Snow White. The treatment of this film was based on a 14-page outline by Al Perkins, and a second script written by Dana Cofy and Bianca Majolie. Production began in January 1938 with a preliminary budget of $1 million and increased to $1.7 million by the end. Nevertheless, the production team and directors were stratified with the final result.

    The story begins following the untimely death of Cinderella’s father, leaving the young girl to face the wrath of her wicked stepmother Florimel de la Poche and stepsisters Wanda and Javotte. Over time, Cinderella is abused, humiliated, and forced to become a servant in her own house. Her bird friends and mouse friends, including a white mouse named Dusty, a turtle named Clarissa, and her pet dog Bruno help Cinderella stay optimistic and retain hope for a better day. One day, the King’s aid and Grand Duke, Spink, delivers an invitation to the de la Poche household to a royal ball which decrees every eligible maiden must attend. Upon delivering news to her stepfamily during a music lesson, her stepfamily cruelly prevents her from attending. In hopeless despair, the fairy godmother helps her get to the ball and Cinderella soon attracts the attention of Prince Henri who ironically wanted nothing to do with the ball until that point. The clock then strikes midnight and Cinderella flees before she can properly introduce herself to the Prince, leaving behind a glass slipper as the only clue to her identity. The rest of the movie becomes a search for the girl with the slipper.

    Cinderella premiered at the Center Theatre in New York City on February 7, 1940, before its general release in the United States on February 23. In its initial run, it earned $1.9 million at the box office. While the film technically earned back its budget, half of the film’s gross went to the movie theaters, in effect costing Disney $750,000. World War II delayed its release in much of Europe and Asia for years. The film was mostly well-received, with critics praising the improvement of the music and animation from Snow White. Though more mixed in the present day, Cinderella’s characterization was praised at the time and she became Walt Disney’s favorite princess. The stepmother was considered an effective villainess, having more interaction with the heroine than in the previous film. The Grand Duke and Prince Henri were considered standout characters due to their unique characterizations and voice performances. The only negative criticism was that of Cinderella’s animal friends taking too much screen time, being seen as an attempt to subvert the focus of the story from Cinderella and her stepfamily. After World War II, the film became profitable in its own right and is now considered a Disney classic.

    A/N: This version of Cinderella is a combination of OTL's version plus the suggestions for gags for a potential Silly Symphony of the story, an actual fourteen-page outline that was published in 1938, and a script that Cofy and Majolie developed in real life that was one of the earliest if not the earliest treatments of Cinderella in script form.
     
    Frozen (1940)
  • Frozen (1940):

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    Walt Disney wanted his third project to be ambitious. Not only did he want to tell a story, but he wanted to tell it using the most advanced animation techniques and pristine sound. He found that project in 1936 while still working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. That project would be based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen. Disney ultimately fave this film the title Frozen along with the subtitle The Story of the Snow Queen. He gained the rights to the story in July 1937 and production began six months later. Of course, production was not without its troubles. There was trouble developing the character of the Snow Queen herself. In the original tale, she was a morally ambiguous figure. Her relationship with the boy, Kai, was unclear, and it was unknown why she took him and why he was willing to go with her. Perhaps most important of all, the readers never got to see the Snow Queen reacting to Gerda (the protagonist of the story) trying to get her friend back. Disney vowed to remove the ambiguity. The story was finalized in September 1938 and production was in full swing in early 1939. The final budget was close to $2.2 million.

    The villainous Snow Queen orders a troll to create a magic mirror with the purpose to magnify all the negative aspects of its reflection. She then shatters the mirror into over a billion pieces and plans to use them against her otherwise unwilling victims. Several years pass and two teenage children, a peasant boy named Kai and the daughter of a nobleman named Gerda, listen to Kai’s grandmother telling a story about the Snow Queen. All of a sudden, the Snow Queen herself appears to have believed she had been mocked. In response, the Queen takes a pair of magical shards and strikes Kai with one each to the eye and heart, causing him to act coldly towards Gerda and threaten their relationship. The next winter, the Snow Queen arrives at the village square on her silver sled and forcibly abducts Kai, carrying him back to her castle at the North Pole and causing him to not only forget about his home but Gerda. This leaves Gerda to race to the North Pole to both set Kai free and restore his memories before his heart can become literally frozen and the village can be plagued by a state of permanent winter.

    Frozen (The Story of the Snow Queen) opened at the Broadway Theatre in New York City on November 13, 1940 following the release of the musical short The Sorcerer’s Apprentice starring Mickey Mouse. With much of Europe and Asia cut off from the market, it was decided that Frozen should run on Broadway for a over year. Before its general release in January 1942, there was a West Coast premiere in Los Angeles, attracting many notable celebrities like Shirley Temple and Edgar Bergen. There were also showings in cities like Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington. Critical reception, while mostly positive, was at the cooler end of favorability. Most were appreciative of having a female lead character that was more proactive than her predecessors, an important male character that wasn’t a prince, and the villain being a greater threat and having a larger presence than before. Others disliked the icier and darker tone than seen in Snow White and Cinderella, reminiscent of the world at war, or thought Disney was becoming formulaic. By April 1941, it only made $1.3 million at the box office, merely 60% of its budget. It would be successful upon post-war releases and would later warrant a sequel. In the meantime, Disney struggled to keep afloat financially.
     
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    Wreck-It-Ralph (1941)
  • Wreck-It-Ralph (1941):​

    What turned out to be Wreck-it-Ralph was the first Disney feature animated film not to be based on a fairy tale. Rather, it was something new, inspired by the Popeye theatrical shorts, the 1933 film King Kong, and the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Walt Disney himself tried developing Beauty and the Beast as its own film in the 1930s but could not figure out how the heroine’s stay in the Beast’s castle would work. Meanwhile, Disney had taken note of how his beloved star Mickey Mouse had fallen in popularity behind Popeye the Sailor, as well as the ascending popularity of the King Kong film. This story first gained attention in late 1939 with story sketches and script completed by March 1940. Originally intended to be the fifth or sixth film in the Disney lineup, it became the fourth due to the underperformance of Cinderella and the outright flopping of Frozen at the box office and moved into production in early 1941. This was made possible through simpler character designs than in previous works, background paintings done in watercolor with less detail, and frames being used in character animation.

    Wreck-it-Ralph is about a man named Ralph who is a construction worker for the Niceland Construction company. He is ostracized and seen as villainous to his big hands causing him to mess up one too many projects he is supposed to be working on and his occasionally volatile temper, earning him the nickname Wreck-It-Ralph. He reveals himself to be a misunderstood hard-working gentle giant but no one gives him the chance. The only person who fully trusts him is the company owner’s son Felix, whom Ralph playful calls Fix-it-Felix. As he is about to be fired from Niceland Construction, Ralph takes Felix with him and the pair take a train ride across the country in order to start anew. Ralph inadvertently catches the attention of a wealthy heiress who despite her wealth and appearance appreciates him for being kind and different. These advances anger a powerful businessman named Gene (nicknamed Turbo) who becomes resentful and hostile towards Ralph. The two men then engage in an intense rivalry while Ralph vows his best not to sink to the level of the enemy and shows his courageous, valiant, and honorable side in the process.

    Production on the film was interrupted in late May 1941 when the Disney animator’s strike broke out, and the film almost did not meet its deadline. Disney rushed to get the film completed and finally sent it to RKO Radio Pictures on September 11, 1941. Initially considered to be released as a B movie, Walt was able to persuade them to release it as an A feature. Wreck-It-Ralph premiered in New York City on October 23, 1941. Financially, it proved itself to be a hit in the United States and other places not directly impacted by World War II. Costing under $700,000 to produce, the film profited by a $1.28 million margin by the end of its initial run. Critically, the film was praised for being endearing and having a stronger feel-good vibe than its predecessors. The greater presence of action was also praised, combined with its simple story, humor, and unique characters. While it was more of a straightforward cartoon than the first three Disney films, many celebrated this as a welcomed change reminiscent of older cartoons. Nowadays, Wreck-it-Ralph is considered the fourth and final film of the iconic Disney Golden Age.
     
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    Home On The Range (1942)
  • Home On The Range (1942):​

    Unlike its predecessors, the fifth movie in the Disney canon was not based on a fairy tale or another story, but rather on a ballad. Home On The Range was initially intended as the second feature-length film produced by Walt Disney when it received the rights to the song's usage in April 1937. This changed when the animators learned that creating a story out of a short song was more difficult than it seemed. In April 1938, Perce Pearce and Carl Fallberg started working on storyboarding process, but production only really began in August 1939. There were originally multiple interpretations of the story planned before they were all streamlined into a single plot, with the focus narrowed to three characters. The writing was completed in July 1940, with the film's budget having increased to $748,000 by then. Unlike Snow White, the animals were to be animated in a style that wasn’t, "like big flour sacks" per Eric Larson. The style was to be much more expressive and realistic, so much so that Disney set up a small petting zoo so the animators could study animal movements. The Great Plains generally inspired the animated backgrounds for the film.

    The feature begins with the namesake song Home On The Range playing, showing the openness of the Great Plains during the mid-late 1800s. Unlike the other Disney films produced up to this point, this one had two separate plotlines that converge into one later on in the movie. The first plot is about a timid young boy named Billy who dreams of becoming a cowboy. His personality has him ostracized among the older child cowboys so he runs away. Meanwhile, a young bull named Bullets and his best friends (an unnamed antelope and bison) learn about the circle of life, with Bullets aspiring to know more about the horses that led his herd. The two plotlines intersect when the young boy and bull meet and discover they each want to explore more of the Old West together. Unfortunately, a cattle hustler named Alameda Slim kidnaps Bullets and plans on killing him so he can be sold to the meat market in long-distant Chicago. Teaming up with Native American allies, Billy must put his bravery to the test so that he can not only prove himself as a worthy cowboy but save his newfound friend before time runs out.

    In order to save on production costs due to World War II, Disney cut 12 minutes from the film before the final animation began, although they can be found as deleted scenes on DVD and Blu-ray releases. Home on The Range premiered in New York on August 7, 1942, and debuted nationwide just two weeks later. It didn’t flop per se at the box office, earning $1.27 million in film rentals, but its underwhelming numbers due to the war hurt the studio. It was well-received by critics at the time who praised the film for its action scenes as well as its fast-paced story. It would go on to be profitable post-war but this would be the first Disney animated film released not to be heralded as a classic. Contemporary critics view it as being more characteristic of the cheaper and forgettable Wartime Period than of the highly artistic, acclaimed Golden Age despite being made in the Golden Age. The depiction of the Native Americans is nowadays sighted as very racist despite being viewed as progressive for its time. The decline of Western-themed TV shows and films in general after the 1960s adversely affected Home On The Range too. That being said, it is still somewhat remembered fondly and modestly profitable, which cannot be said about the next film.

    A/N: Despite me saying this was based on the original poem/ballad, it actually has elements of OTL Bambi, the first two versions of OTL Home On The Range before the final version was produced and released, as well as the song itself. Once again, I couldn't find a suitable picture to put here.
     
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    Make Mine Music (1943)
  • Make Mine Music (1943):

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    The financial failure of Frozen: The Story of the Snow Queen meant that Disney had to cut corners and attempt to earn as much money as possible off of low-budget films. Home On The Range was the only film in production by the time the US entered World War II that was neither a military film nor a low-budget film. Make Mine Music would epitomize the latter. This would be the first package feature Disney would make, which is a film consisting of several shorts into a single feature-length compilation. Planning in earnest dated back to early 1941 during the production of Wreck-It-Ralph and Home On The Range. The studio originally considered its two most popular characters at the time, Donald Duck and Goofy, as hosts for the film or even including them in one or more of the package film segments. A classical music segment based on the Russian story Peter and The Wolf was considered as well after Disney heard the piano version in concert in 1938. Both ideas were scrapped in favor of original stories based on contemporary music styles from the 1940s, although Peter and The Wolf was released as a standalone short alongside Make Mine Music.

    The film has a total of eight animated segments. Up first is The Martins and the Coys, based on a 1936 folklore about two feuding families in the Appalachian Mountains. The Ken Darby Singers, who had previously been featured in Wreck-It-Ralph and Home On The Range, sing Blue Bayou in the background against a family of alligators in the Louisiana swamps. After that was a Benny Goodman recording of Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing) with Goodman on the clarinet alongside his band. The animation here explores the life of a group of teenagers as musicians in the making. Next up is perhaps the most iconic and praised part of the movie, Casey At The Bat, which was based on a poem of the same name. The story is about an arrogant baseball player named Casey whose cockiness costs him his career. Dinah Shore then sings Two Silhouettes featuring a pair of ballet dancers dancing against various animated backgrounds as silhouettes. Benny Goodman’s band then returns with After You've Gone, set to six anthropomorphic musical instruments parading through a musical playground. The penultimate segment is called Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet, which is about two hats who fell in love at a New York department store window, with the Andrews Sisters singing the title song. The film concludes with the African-American folk song Shortnin' Bread by sang Nelson Eddy set to a story of a group of slaves in slave the Antebellum South who sing to keep themselves busy to provide hope for a better day.

    Production was complete by Christmas 1942. At 65 minutes, it beat out Wreck-It-Ralph as the shortest feature in the Disney animated canon. It premiered on February 6, 1943 in Boston. It was released throughout the entire country on February 19. The music and animation were praised but the film was criticized for lack of overall cohesion. Most viewers at the premiere favored the 15-minute long Peter and The Wolf short to Make Mine Music itself. The Shortin’ Bread segment came under fire during the Civil Rights Movement due to the depiction of many of the slaves with both a stereotypical appearance and attitude. In time for the 25th anniversary of the film’s initial premiere, much of the stereotypical imagery was cropped out and the edit has been in place in all theatrical and home video showings since then. Casey At The Bat was overwhelmingly praised at the time, and today is the most remembered segment of the movie. As for Make Mine Music as a collective entity, it is one of the most forgotten in the Walt Disney animated canon and it is rare to find anyone who either likes it or hates it since it has a small to nonexistent fanbase.
     
    Meet The Robinsons (1945)
  • Meet The Robinsons (1945):

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    Unlike the last film, this next package film would have only two segments. However, they would both share a similar theme and a similar name and be much more fleshed out than in the previous film. Both stories involve disasters at sea, shipwrecks, and fighting for survival, but each had its own twist. The two stories were none other than Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson, hence the title Meet the Robinsons. It would be Disney’s darkest movie yet, enhanced by the fact that World War II was raging while this was in production. The project was conceived during the planning stages of Make Mine Music. The large-scale flopping of Frozen at the box office meant it would take some time and some cheap movies that would serve to make Disney a quick buck for the financial situation to improve if it didn’t collapse first. Production for Meet The Robinsons took place during the time when most of the Walt Disney Studio’s resources were diverted away from regular films by the military for war-related projects. The only reason this was even greenlit in the first place was that Disney himself convinced the military he would create a war-like atmosphere that was all too familiar to many sailors fighting in the Pacific Ocean at the time.

    As the film's animated segments are both based on literary works, they are introduced in a live-action library scene. The first segment, Robinson Crusoe, was based on a 1719 novel written by Daniel Defoe. Much like the book, the segment tells of the title character's voyage at sea as he endures a shipwreck and ultimately finds himself stranded on a deserted Caribbean island off the South American coast. Once on the island, he fights off cannibalistic islanders and learns to navigate the ropes of the island in order to survive until his rescue. The second segment, Swiss Family Robinson, follows a similar premise but with various twists and turns that set it apart from its predecessor. Based on its namesake novel from 1812 by Johann David Wyss, a Swiss family named the Robinsons comprising of two parents and four sons ranging in age from 15 to 7 years old find themselves shipwrecked en route to the New South Wales colony in Australia. Unlike in the first story, the ship carried supplies to found a new settlement, with the island itself complete with a wide array of flora and fauna. Also unlike the race for survival and straightforward drama of the first segment, the father utilizes this as an opportunity to teach his four child sons about nature, resourcefulness, and responsibility.

    The production of Meet the Robinsons was completed on December 21, 1944, just over six weeks before its premiere in New York City premiere on February 3, 1945. At the time, it received mixed to positive reviews overall. The Robinson Crusoe segment had a generally mixed reception, being praised for its animation and voice acting while reeving criticism for being overly dark in tone, lacking charm, and not doing anything new from an art or narrative standpoint. On the other hand, Swiss Family Robinson garnered much more praise for its balance of excitement, danger, and light-heartedness, and for its writing of the Robinson family while having strong animation for its budget. The film broke even upon its initial release but did not become popular as its own film until the 1960s, well past the dangers of World War II. In the 1980s, the film premiered on home video as a full-length feature and in individual segments as part of the Walt Disney Mini-Classics Collection. Swiss Family Robinson became one of the highest-selling titles in this collection and is nowadays regarded as the best overall segment from a Walt Disney package film.
     
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