Tuesday, August 20, 2013
A 90 Year Journey...
The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios has come a long way...
When Walt and Roy formed their company nine decades ago, I don't think they had any idea what the company they formed would look like today. I'm sure they would be surprised to find that their studio which would turn into Walt Disney Productions and finally became known as the Walt Disney Company wound up being the largest entertainment company in the world.
Certainly, all of Walt Disney's contemporaries wouldn't have believed it. From Jack Warner to Darryl F. Zanuck, none of the old Hollywood moguls would have thought that a guy that made little cartoon shorts would ever be on equal footing with them. Remember when Walt made the leap from shorts to full length features with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"? The disaster that they thought would happen. No one will set through a hour+ long cartoon.
That's what they called it before it was released. The night of the premiere when the crowd gave it such an enthusiastic response didn't even make the suits across town to ponder it much. Even though it went on to be the number one film at the box office in 1937. It certainly was no folly.
The money that Walt Disney made from that film bought the land in Burbank where he built the new studios that the company has called home for sixty years. And with the land, he and Roy built sound stages. His goals became bigger, and after World War 2, he had a lot of cash in England that he couldn't get out because of tax policy, so he used it as an opportunity. He made some live-action films. And they were classic Disney, particularly "Treasure Island".
And he took chances that the moguls didn't expect. He attempted things that if had failed would have ended the company. His production of "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" was an expensive gamble that, if it failed would have destroyed his dream of a family park that was to open the following year. If it failed, he most likely would have had to sell it and maybe even the studio. But he didn't have to, it was a huge success. And that park was supposed to be another project doomed to fail.
Not that he didn't fail from time to time. But he succeeded when it counted. And his rivals misread him. They underestimated him. They didn't believe in him or his dreams. And although all studios in this storybook land are built on dreams, the base of the Walt Disney Company are built on the dreams of one man. A man that started off with big ideas, a pad of paper and a worn out pencil. Oh, and a mouse.
Can't forget about that Mouse...