Welcome back to Animation Monday. Today, we look at the sequel to 1940’s Fantasia….Fantasia 2000. The Fantasia movies are unique in the world of Disney animation. They are entirely musical, most specifically, symphonic musicals which are a tough sell to movie goers. On the flip side, they are the only Disney movies to predominately feature Mickey Mouse so this should increase their popularity. What both Fantasia movies have in common is they marked periods of decline for Walt Disney Animation at the box office. The original Fantasia had to work against World War 2 and it’s innovative Fantasound system which had to be installed before viewing. Fantasia 2000 was the first animated feature to be released in IMAX but this wasn’t enough to stem the tide against the movement toward computer animation. At the box office, Fantasia 2000 was a flop.
Fantasia 2000 is actually to realization of Roy Disney’s dream to have a sequel to Fantasia. Roy’s original dream was to have segments that moved in and out of the original Fantasia so that the movie could be re-released multiple times. The viewers would have a new movie to see each time it was released. However, that was difficult to achieve in the hand-drawn era of animation in a production schedule which included other projects. As a result, Fantasia 2000 was born and took advantage of the new IMAX film viewing experience.
I would have liked the chance to watch Fantasia 2000 over the weekend to provide a better review of the film and to refresh my memory of the film. However, the film, for some reason, is locked in the Disney Vault and not available on Disney Movies Everywhere.
The Fantasia movies are in an odd place of Disney history. Neither was a box office success and marked the low point of Walt Disney Animation in terms of viewer opinion. However, both are very visually stunning and step out of the box when it comes melding symphonies and animation. That said, I think the movies are too out of the box. People didn’t understand what they were getting with the movie. There isn’t a predictable plot. It isn’t really geared to kids. This makes it a tough sell even with the allure of Mickey Mouse. People are willing to purchase the movie to view at home where Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 were successes.
But while people focus on Fantasia and Fantasia 2000’s failures, you can argue that, in the long-term, they were successes for the studio as a whole. They helped pull the studio out of the tailspins that they were in. Granted some of the tailspin that Fantasia was in could be blamed on World War 2, the film did pull the studio out of the tailspin since Dumbo and Bambi came out in quick succession and put Walt Disney Animation back on the map. Fantasia 2000 marked the end of hand-drawn animation in the minds of Walt Disney Animation especially after John Lassiter took over Walt Disney Animation when Pixar was acquired. Disney released it’s last two hand-drawn animation features with the help of some CGI. In 2005, Disney released Chicken Little….it’s first fully CGI film and then Meet the Robinsons before the comeback was complete with Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Wreck-It Ralph.
Fantasia 2000 is a good ground-breaking movie both in it’s production and for Walt Disney Animation as a whole.
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