Friday, October 12, 2012

Disney's Mermaids

As a follow-up to last week's post about a mermaid tv show, I thought I would say something about the two main mermaid movies. Both were Disney productions and both were important milestones.

The first one is Splash. This was director Ron Howard's third theatrical release and his biggest hit to date. It was the first staring role for Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Both Howard and Hanks went on to win Oscars.

This was a very important movie for Disney. at the time they were still known for producing family and kids movies. They wanted to expand but not under the Disney name. So, they created a new studio called Touchstone. This would produce movies aimed at adults. At the time, movies rated "G" were still being made for general audiences and PG could include brief nudity as long as it was above the waist or the butt. Splash was Touchstone's first release.

During the 1980s and early 90s, Touchstone made a fortune producing low-budget movies, mainly staring actors whose careers needed a boost.. It also produced some movies that were too scary for Disney. Nightmare Before Christmas was originally a Touchstone release.

Eventually the Touchstone formula began to fail. By that time Disney had bought other studios and no longe3r needed the Touchstone name.


Disney's other important mermaid was The Little Mermaid. This came out at an important time for Disney and hand-drawn animation in general. With Walt's death, Disney animation began a downward spiral. Each movie seemed less technically proficient than the last. Pallets were reduced to save costs which meant that the movies were less colorful.

Things began to change when a former Disney animator named Don Bluth released the Secret of NIMH. Bluth's goal was to recreate the days of classic animation. This started an arms race with Disney. Prior to this no studio had ever been able to touch Disney's quality. Here was a movie that was on par with anything Disney had ever done.

So Disney rebuilt its animation department and went about recreating the days of classic animation. The first movie they produced that got any real notice was Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which came out in 1988 and was a huge hit. But it was a mixture of live action and animation.

The following year The Little Mermaid came out and proved that Disney could still make a classic. It also updated the Disney princess. This was the first Disney movie that had an actual courtship instead of a prince entering from stage left. It was also balanced - Ariel saved Eric the same number of times that Eric saved Ariel. Finally, it had a plot that adults could enjoy as well as kids.

For the next several years Disney's animated movies dominated the box office. The Little Mermaid was followed by Beauty and the Beast, the only animated movie to get a best picture nomination, Aladdin, and the Lion King, each setting box office records.

As with Touchstone, the formula finally wore thin and Disney had some outright flops. Regardless, their two mermaid movies each began a successful run.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing..