Here’s How ‘The Little Mermaid’ Saved Disney And Launched A Renaissance Era Of Animation

Here’s How ‘The Little Mermaid’ Saved Disney And Launched A Renaissance Era Of Animation by Kristin Lai , May 25th, 2016 at 2:45pm Share on Facebook Share to TwitterToday, the rumor mill continued churning after Deadline announced that Disney executives are continuing talks on a live-action version of T he Little Mermaid . In the same vein as Maleficent and Cinderella , these modern versions hope to introduce younger generations to their beloved stories, while also capitalizing on the nostalgia of older fans.Since the 1930s, Disney has become an animation powerhouse known for churning out blockbuster after blockbuster of children’s entertainment, amassing billions in the box office — and even more in merchandise revenues, and creating lasting childhood memories for generations of children.Like most children of the ’90s, my salad days were largely comprised of with Lion King sheets, Beauty and the Beast dishware, Pocahontas sing-along tapes, and a hefty collection of Disney VHS tapes. These days, Disney’s slate has become exceedingly impressive and shows little sign of slowing down. But once upon a time, Disney’s fate wasn’t as rock-steady as it is today.The 1970s and 1980s — now known as the Disney Dark Age — were a tumultuous time where the seemingly infallible studio couldn’t seem to find its footing. For the first time since it’s silent film era, the company was in dire straits. And it wasn’t until the 1989 release of The Little Mermaid that Disney remerged as the filmmaking leviathan we know now.The Downfall of DisneyIn the wake of Walt Disney’s death in 1966, the studio faced the end of the Disney Golden Age. People began to fear that the prolific animation house may have lost some of its trademark magic. Disney still had a back catalogue stacked to the brim with animated classics, but it’s new releases failed to reach the critical or commercial success of their predecessors. In short, the ailing studio was on the cusp of a financial collapse.In the late 1970s, things became so bad that the Disney Board of Directors was inches away from planning a takeover that would dissolve the company and sell for parts to eager investors.Walt Disney’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, resigned from his executive post and saw to replacing the then-CEO Ronald William Miller with Paramount execs Frank Wells and Michael Eisner, who in turn brought on Jeffrey Katzenberg to head the motion picture division. Although Disney would still endure years of cinematic flops, the bold upheaval and restructuring was a pivitol moment leading to the Disney Renaissance.Heavy Competition from a Former EmployeeOutside of Disney, former House of Mouse employee Don Bluth and nine other former animators were making headway with their latest undertaking, Don Bluth Productions.The studio’s first movie The Secret of NIMH (1982) did just okay in the box office, but was lauded by critics, exacerbating Disney’s pains. In the years that followed, the created others like An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988).In response to Don Bluth’s success with a darker animation style, Disney released movies like The Black Cauldron (1985) — which was, at the time, the most expensive movie ever made, The Great Mouse Detective (1986), and Oliver & Company (1988). Both movies were box office flops and still stand as Disney’s dark period.Just when people thought Disney feature animations may become a thing of the past, Disney came out with their enchanting classic The Little Mermaid .The Birth of a New Era of AnimationWith the addition of new animators and composers Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, he was eventually able to reignite their creative spark and produce a work of genius. Menken said in an interview with Yahoo! Movies, that they had a clear objective from the start:Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, The Little Mermaid told the story of Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson), a beguiling young mermaid who wants nothing more than to shed her tail and walk on land with her true love.The Little Mermaid arrived in theaters on November 17, 1989 and was met with instantaneous praise. With a $40 million budget, The Little Mermai d earned $84 million domestically and more than $211 million worldwide.With the help of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the fantastical musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale was clearly reminiscent of Walt Disney’s earlier works, it breathed new life into Disney and ushered it into its phase of rebirth.Maureen Donley , a producer and production manager for Disney, stated it helped them realize their full potential and angle themselves accordingly:Seeing the financial success and creative benefits of The Little Mermaid , Disney was once again willing to take chances on big-scale animated musicals, thus marking the start of the Disney Renaissance.The slate that followed consisted of some of the most beloved films and characters including: Beauty and the Beast (1991) — which will be released as a live-action film in 2017, Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996).Today, Disney remains unrivaled in animation and now live-action ventures. After the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, Disney has extended its reach into enough tentpole films and franchises to ensure its lasting impact on the film and entertainment industry. Many eve assert that this trajectory into the upper echelon of animation and filmmaking would have never happened had it not been for The Little Mermaid .Although some may feel wary of Disney’s ambitious live-action slate, if The Little Mermaid could have a similar affect as it did in 1989, it’s seems worth the risk.What is your favorite Disney movie? Let us know in the comments section.(Source: Yahoo UK Movies )