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Media Essays: 100 Facts About Disney (81-90)

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Hard to believe we're on the penultimate chapter of this centenary countdown, isn't it? Feels like yesterday since I started this mad self-imposed challenge...

Well, we're nearly there now. There's twenty facts left to cover so let's delve into ten more of them now and then we can gear up for the grand finale next month! Here we go...

81: The original premise for WALL.E was VERY weird!

Original WALL.E premise

It's always interesting when it comes to original drafts of a project and WALL.E is no exception to this. So what was the original premise for WALL.E like? Quite bizarre, and that's no exaggeration...

Before WALL.E became the movie is was today, WALL.E wasn't going to encounter fat humans on a spaceship, but rather green aliens that bore a striking resemblance to Flubber and would speak in gibberish. You can see their designs up above. Also rather than a world run by commercialism like with Buy N' Large in the finished movie, the aliens would run like Ancient Greece with a royal family at its head. So yeah, WALL.E could've been about a robot meeting aliens on another planet. How about that? XD

Andrew Stanton, the film's director, thought the idea was too weird and might be unappealing to viewers so the aliens were changed into fat humans and the whole Ancient Greece style politics were dropped in favour of the commercialism message we have in the final product. Who knew that WALL.E started off in such a weird way before it became what we know and love today? I'm sure the original version would've been...interesting to watch if it were made but the final version is more than great enough as it is and I'm glad we got it. I just hope Disney doesn't get any stupid ideas like say, make a sequel to WALL.E and use this premise as the sequel's plot...

82: Pixar needed to create a whole new programme just to animate Sully's fur


You all remember Monsters Inc. and what a legendary movie that was from Pixar, right? Of course you do, and the many different monster designs that came out of the movie are among the things we all remember from the movie. Sully in particular is an instantly recognizable icon in the animation industry thanks to his blue fur and purple spots. It must've been a challenge animating all that fur, right? You'd be correct on that because it WAS.

Remember, CGI was still pretty new back then and computers weren't as powerful as they are now so CG animation was much harder when it came to the Pixar movies of old. Sully was a challenge to animate because of his furry body. He has over 2,320,413 hairs in total and trying to animate all that would've just made the computer explode! So how did they solve it? By creating a whole new software to animate the hair for them. They did something similar to animate the waving grass in A Bug's Life and The Lion King and Mulan also created software to animate the charging wildebeest and Huns in those films. For Sully, the programme they created was called "Fizt" (which is short of physical tool). How it works is that after a scene with Sully was rendered, Fizt would add in the hair and take account on what's going on in the scene like if it's a high speed action scene or if it's a windy scene and so forth. Pretty clever, huh? ;) Fizt was also able to do the same thing for clothing so I imagine that made things easier for the Pixar animators in that department. Sadly, Fizt was still a programme running on a slower computer back in the early 2000's so it didn't make animating the scenes any fasted as it would take around 11-12 hours just to render ONE frame with Sully in it.

I imagine in Monsters University they had an easier time thanks to advances in technology over the years and whatever programme they used to animate his fur in that movie was likely faster and more efficient but I don't have the details for that movie. Still, this should tell you just how much time and effort was put into these films back then and how they really had to make use of what they had with the kind of technology that was available to us in the early 2000's. We really take technology for granted and while most tech makes things easier to use these days, the tech of yesteryear deserves all the credit it can get for being able to do what they could back then.

83: Dim was thought to be a fictional version of a rhinoceros beetle...but it actually exists

And here's something else that's always amusing, finding out that something "fictional" is actually real. XD

Dim is the big, strong but gentle rhinoceros beetle from A Bug's Life. At the time, it was thought he was based on a fictionalized version of a rhinoceros beetle and had no real world basis. But as you can see in the pictures above, he does. It actually exists. Named Megaceras briansaltini in honour of the man who discovered the beetle, Brian Saltin, the beetle was found eight years after A Bug's Life's release and Brian coined up the term "The Dim Effect" as a result of his discovery. However, it's said that only one specimen of this beetle has been found so it's unknown if the horn is natural or some kind of mutation so further study is probably needed. The species was even put at number 9 on the Top Species of 2008 by the International Institute for Species Exploration.

It's weird yet hilarious sometimes when nature imitates art, isn't it? What's next, we find a species of bird that resembles the one we see in A Bug's Life? That'd be funny if we found that. XD

84: P.T. Flea is John Ratzenberger's favourite Pixar role

P.T. Flea

Any Pixar fan worth their salt will be familiar with one of the studio's oldest traditions. Up until 2020, they would give fellow actor John Ratzenberger a role in every one of their movies with him voicing a character whether it be a major one like Hamm in the Toy Story movies or a minor one like Earl in The Good Dinosaur. He was considered "Pixar's good luck charm", hence why they brought him in so many times. John's appearances would get smaller and smaller over time to the point he more or less had cameos in Pixar's later movies rather than an actual role. Onward was the last movie to feature a voice role from John and since 2020, he hasn't had a voice cameo in a Pixar movie since. Why this is remains a mystery.

So of all the characters he's played in Pixar, which one is his favourite? P.T. Flea from A Bug's Life. And honestly, this isn't surprising. That character was really the character that got to display John's acting talents to the fullest if you ask me. John explains his reason why P.T. Flea was his favourite role, saying:

" real life, I always get a kick out of those kinds of characters, people who just go into a rage for [no] explicable reason. He was always on edge. His blood pressure was always way over the top, and everything that he did was done in a panicked state. So it was a lot of fun to play him." - John Ratzenberger

It's a pity he never got any other roles like this after A Bug's Life because P.T. Flea was a hoot and John's performance was a large part of the reason why he was so entertaining. Still, how many actors can say one of their favourite characters they've played in their lives was an ill-tempered circus ringmaster who is a flea? XD

85: The stage show of The Lion King features a scene cut out of the movie

The Lion King

The Lion King was a pop culture juggernaut back in the 90's and one of the things that made it one was the famous Broadway and West End musical show based on the film. It stands as one of the most beloved theatre productions of all time and is a regular watch on Broadway or at the West End Theatre in London. As a fellow Brit, I naturally saw the West End version of the show and got myself some souvenirs including a t-shirt, an album of the Broadway version (weirdly enough) and a snow globe. And let me tell you, it's one of the most incredible shows ever put together on stage. You HAVE to see it at least once in your life, you'll have a great time with it! :D

As you often get with adaptations, the stage show of The Lion King has some changes to the source material with the most notable ones being extra songs that weren't in the original such as "He Lives In You" and there's even a whole scene added to the show that wasn't in the movie. Said scene involves Scar desiring a queen to rule beside him and he picks...Nala. Yeah, this is all kinds of wrong and I don't blame Nala for being so freaked out by such an idea. X( Nala (obviously) rejects Scar's advances and Scar banishes her from the Pride Lands as a result, which leads to her finding Simba in Timon and Pumbaa's place as we saw in the movie. The scene WAS going to be in the movie but was dropped because it was considered inappropriate for children, and yet for some reason the stage show thought it was OK to include. idea how that works. The movie thinks it's too inappropriate but the stage show thinks it's fine? Why? They are aware that kids watch the show too, aren't they?

Double standards aside, the stage show is still a feast for the eyes and including this scene doesn't take away from that. It's a show that has to be seen by any Disney fans, musical fan, theatre fan and especially The Lion King fans...

86: Walt's brother Roy, started as a vacuum salesman

Roy and Walt Disney

How's this for a humble origin story?

A lot of people in life start off small before becoming something big. Walt Disney's brother, Roy O. Disney, is no exception here. Before he and his brother became entertainment moguls with their big animation company, Roy was doing, of all things, selling vacuum cleaners. He would sell the machines door-to-door to make financial ends meet. I'm sure even he made some bad puns about how much this job sucks. XD

When Walt moved to Los Angeles with Roy, Roy suggested Walt follow his lead and sell vacuum cleaners too. It wasn't until Margaret Winkler came along and gave Walt the chance to become the animation creator he wanted to be and everything played out from there. Roy would quit his job as a vacuum cleaner salesman and join Walt in his endeavours. I think I can say he made the right choice there. I mean I'd happily drop selling hoovers if it meant I could make cartoons for a living if I was in that position! XD

87: Walt Disney holds the record for the most Academy Award wins and nominations

Walt Disney's Academy Awards

How's this for something to be remembered by?

Many celebrities have Academy Award wins to their name but Walt Disney is the one that can boast about having the most wins and nominations of all time. How many respectively? In terms of the most individual Oscar wins and nominations, he has twenty-two wins and fifty-nine nominations. That's impressive! So what were the 22 Oscars he managed to win for? Let's list them:

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1932: Flowers and Trees

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1933: The Three Little Pigs

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1934: The Tortoise and the Hare

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1935: Three Orphan Kittens

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1936: The Country Cousin

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1937: The Old Mill

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1938: Ferdinand the Bull

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1939: The Ugly Duckling

Best Short Cartoon (Cartoon) 1941: Lend A Paw

Best Short Subject (Cartoon) 1941: Der Fuehrer's Face

Best Short Subject (Two-reel) 1948: Seal Island

Best Short Subject (Two-reel) 1950: In Beaver Valley and Nature's Half Acre

Best Short Subject (Live Action) 1952: Water Birds

Best Documentary (Feature) 1953: The Living Desert

Best Documentary (Short Subject) 1953: The Alaskan Eskimo

Best Short Subject (Cartoon) 1953: Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom

Best Short Subject (Two-reel) (1953): Bear Country

Best Documentary (Short Subject) 1954: The Vanishing Prairie

Best Documentary (Short Subject) 1955: Men Against The Arctic

Best Short Subject (Live Action) 1958: Grand Canyon

Best Short Subject (Cartoon) 1968: Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (posthumous award)

He was also given honorary Academy Awards in 1932 and 1939 for the creation of Mickey Mouse and the making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It's not all that surprising that practically all of those awards were for his cartoon shorts or documentaries but still, it's a real testament to how well Walt Disney and his team crafted their work if they were able to win more Academy Awards than anybody else in history. That deserves an Oscar trophy in and of itself if you ask me! XD

88: The Disney Vault is real and can be found in Glendale, California

Disney Vault

I'm not sure how many of you reading this knew this or not, but I imagine some of you would've questioned if the infamous "Disney Vault" actually exists or not. Well, I can confirm that it does. It exists and can be found in Glendale, California. Don't expect to be allowed in anytime soon as it's a highly secure area and you're not really allowed to take photos in.

So yeah, the vault is real but I wouldn't hold your breath hoping you'll get to go in it anytime soon. It would be cool to look around though but eh, we can only dream of such a thing...

89: Dumbo was Disney's first movie to be released on home video

Dumbo VHS

Yes, as it says above, Dumbo of all movies was Disney's first movie to be released on home video.

Released on June the 28th 1981, Dumbo became the first Disney VHS available for home media, but ONLY for rental. At around the same time, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was released for rental and also for sale as well. Alice in Wonderland came next on October the 15th 1981, but only for rental. It wasn't until 1982 when Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland VHSes would be for sale and all other VHSes would be for sale and rental. Come December the 3rd 1984, Robin Hood became the next major release and was the first Disney film to be part of the Walt Disney Classics collection.

The Little Mermaid ended up changing the home video market forever for Disney as on May the 18th 1990, they released the movie on home media just six months after the release of the film. Disney didn't really do this before as the company was afraid of upsetting its profitable practice of theatrically reissuing each film every few years. They soon changed their mind when The Little Mermaid became the top selling title on home video with over 10 million units sold, 7 million of them being sold within its FIRST MONTH, and by October 1993, they'd managed to sell 13 million units. This contributed to The Little Mermaid generating a total revenue of $1billion alongside its box office gross and merchandising sales. So yeah, Disney were all too quick to capitalize on this success with their movies being released on home video soon after the end of their theatrical runs rather than delayed for several years like before.

To think that Dumbo of all movies started off the home video market for Disney and it only led to a huge enterprise for them where they really managed to make a fortune off of it. And if you're curious to know, yes, I did once own Dumbo on VHS. I don't have it anymore but I did own it during my childhood. Such happy memories...

90: A complete list of celebrity appearances in Fantasia 2000

Fantasia 2000

Fantasia 2000 was the sequel to Disney's beloved classic Fantasia and as the title will tell you, it was the movie they released to kick off the new millennium with it being the first Disney movie released in the 21st century when it premiered in IMAX on New Year's Day 2000. As you can imagine, this movie's quite a big deal even if it's not quite as well-known or remembered as the original Fantasia.

The film also has live-action segments including a bunch of celebrities, some of them even being pretty recognizable names. So who showed up in this film? For all the celebrities we got here, we have Steve Martin, Itzhak Perlman, Quincy Jones, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, Penn & Teller, James Levine, and Angela Lansbury with each of them introducing a different segment of the movie. If you're curious how it went:

Symphony No. 5 was introduced by surviving archival recordings of Deems Taylor and later by Steve Martin.

Pines of Rome was introduced by Itzhak Perlman.

Rhapsody in Blue was introduced by Quincy Jones with pianist Ralph Grierson.

Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102 was introduced by Bette Midler featuring pianist Yefim Bronfman.

The Carnival of the Animals (Le Carnival des Animaux), Finale was introduced by James Earl Jones with animator Eric Goldberg.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice was introduced by Penn & Teller.

Pomo and Circumstance - Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4 was introduced by James Levine.

Firebird Suite - 1919 Version was introduced by Angela Lansbury.

Who knows what celebrities they'll get if they ever do a third Fantasia movie. XD

And that's it for this post. Next month, we conclude the countdown as we finally reach 100. But first, we'll be kicking off Disney's 100th anniversary by counting down ten of my favourite Disney films. See you then media fans!

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Another nice entry. And aside the one with the Lion King, didn't know any of these so I learned a lot.

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