Monday, 13 July 2009

Theme Parks: How Disney beat the Fleischer Bros

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, worked two giant companies of the Animation industry...

In one corner [California] we had Walt Disney with his Seven Dwarves, multiplane camera, and a talking mouse that was best friends with an orange dog...
From uncertain beginnings in Kansas City, to driving an ambulance for the Red Cross during WW1, and receiving his first (of 26) Academy Award(s) in 1931 for the creation of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney's animation company is still the best known animation company in the world. Even today, in the age of CGI, many of Disney's classic films remain as inspiring and as popular as ever with young and old audiences alike, despite most of his best known films being over 50 years old (Snow White, 1937; Pinocchio, 1940; Dumbo, 1941, Bambi, 1942, Peter Pan, 1953; The Lady & The Tramp, 1959...)

In the other corner [Miami] we have the Fleischer Brothers with their Betty Boop, rotoscope technique, and a Klown who came Out Of The Inkwell...
The Fleischer's are responsible for many innovations regarding the production process of animation, particularly the rotoscope technique, and the Stereoptical Process.
Even though they produced several memorable cartoon series' including Betty Boop, Superman, and Popeye; when it came to feature films, the Fleischer Brothers tended to rely upon poor imitations of the Disney style to stand a shot at gaining commercial success anywhere near the equivalent of the Disney Studios. This imitation is evident in Gulliver's Travels (1939), which was the first animated feature film from an American company other than Disney... Although their debut feature film was a commercial success, their second feature (Mr Bug Goes To Town / Hoppity Goes To Town) was badly received at the box office and when combined with internal problems and a failing business model, the Fleischer Studios gradually fell apart. Today their name is almost unheard of amongst general audiences (which I think is a real shame considering their important technical innovations and personal artistic style).

But on with the story:
Walt Disney opened his first theme park in California during the summer of 1955, and similar Disney theme parks have since opened around the world (in Florida, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong). The theme parks are best symbolised by Cinderella's castle, which appears in the Disney logo; however theme parks are where I [jokingly] think that the Fleischer Brothers became commercial failures...

While the Disney theme parks are massive cities that can take several days to fully explore (hence requiring visitors to buy more tickets, which earns Disney more money); the Fleischer's theme park (if the drawing below is to be believed) is WAY too small for kids or even human dwarves to fit into [note the imitation Cinderella castle]...
How could Max Fleischer, a man responsible for so many technical achievements, have drawn the plans for his first theme park at such a wrong scale?

The lesson to learn:
If you're going to build a theme park to expand your animation company, make sure it's big enough for your visitors to enter!

1 comment:

  1. This is brilliant! lol i genuinly thought it might go somewhere towards my essay but it was a nice light hearted break from the other crap i've had to read!
    thanks! :D


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