1995: Pixar’s First Full-Length Picture Opens
In the early days, Pixar’s reputation was much like Walt Disney’s. By the early 1990’s, Pixar was known for being masters of short films and TV commercials and that is when the “house of mouse” approached them to create a full-length feature film. Creating shorts was one thing, but creating a full-length animated production was something else – much like Disney branching out from short films to the iconic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Directed by John Lasseter, Toy Story was Pixar’s first computer-animated film and the one all of the others that have followed it are measured by. The film went through a number of plot and character revisions since Disney’s team (lead by Jeffrey Katzenberg) and Pixar’s team (Lead by Lassester) couldn’t see eye-to-eye. Disney’s animators were resentful that “outsiders” came in to do their work. Rumor has it that Katzenberg wanted an edgier story with adult references and the character of Woody to be much more of a jerk. In the end, Lassester was given the green light to produce the film that he wanted to make which also fit very nicely with Disney’s legacy of films. Toy Story went on to earn over $361 million and the reviews were almost completely positive. It is considered to be one of the best animated films ever made which was followed by three sequels and a variety of shorts and TV specials.
1991: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Waltzes in Theaters
Walt Disney wanted to create an adaptation of the Beauty and the Beast story during the 1930s and again in the 1950s, but it didn’t happen. However, it was on this day in 1991 when the film was released as Walt Disney Pictures’ 30th animated feature. Considered the third film during the “Disney Renaissance Period” (which includes The Little Mermaid and Aladdin), the movie was based on the French fairy tale of the same name by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. The story centered on a spoiled prince (voiced by Robby Benson) who was cursed to become an ugly beast who could only change back after he found true love. The “beauty” of the story was Belle (Paige O’Hara) who volunteered to be imprisoned by the Beast in exchange for her father’s freedom. Add a few animated household objects like a teapot, clock and candlestick (Angela Lansbury, David Ogden Stiers and Jerry Orbach) a happy ending, and a few songs and you got yourself a classic. After the success of The Little Mermaid, plans for the un-musical story were changed. The film was directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, the screenplay was written by Linda Woolverton, Alan Menken wrote the songs and Howard Ashman wrote the lyrics. During the film’s first release, it made over $425 million on a $25 million budget. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture that year and was nominated for an Oscar for the same category as well. Though it didn’t win the Academy Award for Best Picture, it did win for Best Original Score and Best Original Song. In 1994, the movie was adapted into a Broadway stage musical and the live-action remake of the film was directed by Bill Condon was released in March of 2017.
- 1921: Rodney Dangerfield (comedian)
- 1924: Geradine Page (actress)
- 1932: Robert Vaughn (actor)
- 1940: Gerry Gilliam (film director)
- 1940: Roy Thomas (comicbook writer)
- 1943: Billie Jean King (tennis player)
- 1956: Richard Kind (actor)
- 1958: Jamie Lee Curtis (actress)
- 1961: Mariel Hemingway (actress)
- 1967: Mark Ruffalo (actor)
- 1984: Scarlett Johansson (actress)
- 1996: Hailey Baldwin (model)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.