Sleeping Beauty at 60

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises.)

Think of the major Walt Disney Animation Studios releases from its first 20 years. These films are the foundation of the entire company, titles that children of the 1990s and later know as untouchable classics, formed as much by their quality as by their studio-enforced legacy. Pinocchio. Bambi. Alice in Wonderland. Fantasia. Because these films were re-released in theaters multiple times, and then arrived on home media to become staples of most of our childhoods, it’s easy to presume that they were all massive hits initially.

Instead, the opposite is true: each of the aforementioned titles struggled to break even with their budgets, let alone turn profits. Though now they’re hits, in the 1940s and 1950s, they only served to make Disney lose money. That financial consideration is worth keeping in mind especially in light of today’s 60th anniversary of Sleeping Beauty, one of the studio’s most ambitious animated films, one whose aims so exceeded its initial success that the studio nearly gave up on feature animation altogether.

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The 15 Most Beautiful Animated Movies Ever

most beautiful animated movies

(Welcome to Let’s Get Animated!, a column that spotlights the best of film animation. In this edition: the most beautiful animated movies.)

Over the weekend, one of the most imaginative and visually striking animated movies ever made hit theaters. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is being hailed as a groundbreaking achievement, and a testament to the creative heights that animation can reach. But it’s not the first animated movie to push the boundaries of the medium.

Animation so often gets dismissed a “children’s genre” that it’s often overlooked how damn beautiful these movies can get. Cinema is first and foremost a visual medium, and no other medium can test the limits of the imagination and realize the potential of filmmaking like animation. So in honor of the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, here are the 15 most beautiful animated films ever.

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harry potter video game ride

Harry Potter doesn’t own wizards and magic wands — though The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando certainly popularized selling them in merchandise form.

The magic wand is a particularly clever piece of marketing that also is deeply connected to the world of Harry Potter — there are whole subplots about the importance of a wizard’s bond with his wand and how the “wand chooses the wizard.” Heck, the entire finale of Harry Potter hinges on the ownership of a wand! Merlin’s wand in Disney’s The Sword in the Stone? Not so pivotal.

But Disneyland Paris is piggybacking on the success of the Harry Potter wands, and creating their own brand of magic wands that can be sold at a Merlin’s Shop near you! And by near you, I mean exclusively in Disneyland Paris.

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Beauty and the Beast Theme Song Remake

This month, Beauty and the Beast joins Alice in WonderlandSleeping BeautyCinderella, and The Jungle Book on the list of Disney animated features that have undergone live-action makeovers. And over the next few years, that list is only going to grow. It seems like every week brings a major update on yet another Disney fairy tale, and the studio’s already got several dates set aside for these projects through 2019. Let’s take a look at all the Disney live-action remakes in development right now. Read More »

Tarzan - Disney Easter Eggs

Any Pixar Animation fan can tell you that the computer animation studio loves to sneak characters from their upcoming movies into the preceding releases that hit theaters. We even featured a video that shows off a kind of Russian nesting doll of Pixar characater Easter eggs. But they’re not the only ones to have some fun with their character library.

Walt Disney Animation has been putting character Easter eggs in their movies for years, and a new video points out some of them. It’s not quite as organized like the chronological Pixar video, but it does have some Disney Easter eggs that I wasn’t aware of at all. Watch below! Read More »

LEGO Disney Minifigures

In addition to the LEGO minifgures that come with the various building block playsets, the toy company has also been selling individual minifigures. However, rather than being able to choose which minifigures you want to buy, you have to take your chances by buying them blind and hope you get one you don’t have yet. Or you can be the person who stands in the aisle and tries to feel the little plastic packages to determine if you’re getting the figure you want.

Anyway, if you’re a Disney fan, you’re probably going to be interested in the latest series of minifigures that will give some of Disney’s most famous animated characters the building block treatment. There’s a series of 18 new LEGO Disney minifigures featuring characters from The Incredibles, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and more. Read More »

Aladdin's Genie and Sebastian

Even casual Disney fans have likely noticed that the studio’s various animated features often contain subtle nods at each other. Rapunzel from Tangled has Disney fairy tale books in her collection, Nani from Lilo & Stitch has a Mulan poster, et cetera. But what if these aren’t mere sight gags from playful animators. What if, instead, they’re hard evidence that all of these movies take place in the same universe?

In an homage of sorts to Jon Negroni’s The Pixar Theory, Josh Butler posits that 30 of Disney’s animated features share a world. His thesis requires some suspension of disbelief — for one thing, it involves a lot of magic and time travel — but it’s fun to think about nonetheless. Hit the jump to see how Butler’s theory shakes out.

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The fairy tale trend that’s taken over Hollywood clearly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Even as cameras roll on Disney’s Maleficent, which retells Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of its villain, there’s another reinterpretation of the story brewing, this time with the prince who breaks the spell at its center. Fast and the Furious producer Neal Moritz is behind the new version, a comedy which sees its male protagonist stalked by Sleeping Beauty after he awakens her. More details after the jump.

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We’ve seen a version of this Sleeping Beauty trailer once before, when it premiered in April ahead of the film’s debut at the Cannes Film Festival. In the months since, the slightly controversial film, in which Sucker Punch star Emily Browning plays a very odd and specific sort of prostitute, has been overshadowed by other bigger, more controversial movies.

Sleeping Beauty still looks like an unusual, potentially unsettling experience, however, and a film with some gorgeous cinematography. (Whether that cinematography is beautiful for its own sake or really serves the story remains to be seen, for most of us.) So now that a slightly different trailer has shown up  online, it’s a good time to take a moment and remind ourselves that the film exists. Check out the US trailer below. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Here’s the latest video from film/audio remix artist Pogo. Bloom combines a good number of Disney video and audio sources (Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid and more) as well as some chords from A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Watch it after the break. Read More »