The Black Cauldron

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Post by EricJ » February 5th, 2009, 3:55 pm

Ben wrote:Wouldn't we all! And you're only speaking about the publicized recent stuff. While even I would say Dream On Silly Dreamer would be too flammable to officially include in a Disney DVD package, The Sweatbox would be fantastic in an Emperor's New Groove edition...though until certain people leave the company or are indeed passed away, it's unlikely we'll ever see it.
So...not the Sweatbox they're including on the Pinocchio disk, then?

(As for "Dreamer"...a nice bit of historical handwringing, but do we still watch then-contemporary documentaries that had their historical ticket punched after the object of their handwringing was dispensed with?:
Will we still watch anti-Bush documentaries in the Obama administration, and will we still watch "Well, that's it, game over, we're toast!" anti-Eisner documentaries in the Iger/Lasseter administration?)
The Fox And The Hound's release was marked by a 90 minute documentary on Disney Animation: The Illusion Of Life, hosted by Hayley Mills and basically focusing on two films: Pinocchio and Fox And The Hound. Frank and Ollie speak about their work on Pinocchio, while Glen Keane reveals early footage of the bear fight in Fox/Hound and we see Pearl Bailey in the studio recording her songs...not a jot of that appeared on the DVD and while the upcoming Pinocchio might also be a neat home for it, it won't show up there either.
Ohh, yeah--I remember F&H pulling ALL the "We made Pinocchio, you know!" strings to try and get us to see it in '81.
They were just lucky it had a documentary--Think "Cauldron" had something too, but they weren't as desperate back then.
I was disappointed with the package put together for Sleeping Beauty and am already disappointed that Pinocchio will not include several <I>obvious</I> extras: the short-lived Jiminy Cricket education series of <I>I'm No Fool</I> shorts for a start.


Leonard Maltin's no fool, either, having been hounded for a "Disney Educational" Treasures set for the last nine years.

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Post by Ben » February 5th, 2009, 4:41 pm

On Eric's points:

No, smartypants: the Sweatbox option on the Pinocchio disc is a featurette about working with Walt in the sweatbox sessions, presumably on Pinocchio, though it sounds like it could be like the storyboarding featurette on one of the other discs, and therefore an open-ended discussion on the subject, not specific to the feature. Why would they put Trudi Styler's feature-length documentary on the Pinocchio discs?

Dreamer: I think there's a ton of historical important and perspective to be found in the conditions a film was made under. As such, though, I did already say that Dreamer wouldn't have really been suitable as a supplement...it makes more of an impact and a point by being its own thing.

F&H: Actually, the documentary was more about Frank & Ollie's book, The Illusion Of Life. It just happened that Fox/Hound was the upcoming release in production and so the documentary made a point of showing how a current animated film came together. Although the doc touched on Pinocchio and Fox/Hound, it did cover a lot more than that, including the Old Mac Donald Duck sequence on how Donald moves, from The Reluctant Dragon, re-versioned with host Hayley Mills and either Andreas Deja or Mark Henn operating the camera table, if memory serves. Cauldron had a more generic 25 minute fluffy promo doc, about how this was a new direction for Disney.

The Disney Education tin hasn't ever been confirmed or denied. But going on the double dipping between that series and others, it really would make more sense to put the Jiminy Cricket shorts on the feature disc that stars, um...Jiminy Cricket.

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Post by Neal » February 5th, 2009, 4:42 pm

I'm going to ask for Dreamer for my birthday (February 21).
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  • Tekkonkinkreet, Watership Down, A Town Called Panic, Howl's Moving Castle, Rio 2096, Mind Game, Fantastic Planet

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Post by EricJ » February 5th, 2009, 7:32 pm

Ben wrote:The Disney Education tin hasn't ever been confirmed or denied. But going on the double dipping between that series and others, it really would make more sense to put the Jiminy Cricket shorts on the feature disc that stars, um...Jiminy Cricket.
Oh, "Fun & Fancy Free", y'mean? :P

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Post by Ben » February 6th, 2009, 5:30 pm

You know, I knew you were going to be a clever clogs and bring that one up.

How about a tin of Jiminy shows from the TV series then? :)

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Good idea, poorly executed.

Post by Sid Philips » February 13th, 2009, 3:20 am

"The Black Cauldron" was brought into Disney by Ollie Johnston, a big fan of the Lloyd Alexander books. He hated the final film, and stated so on many occasions. The film is a mess, made worse by Jeffery Katzenburg's trimming and rearranging it when he and Eisner moved to Disney.

The production history is a very ugly one, and a dark period in Disney animation history. Several different units working on different parts of the film. They never showed each other their work and undercut each other constantly. The film was very expensive, and bombed BIG time. Even after all these years, it has yet to turn a profit.

The film itself is a misguided jumble of half baked ideas--more plot than journey, and with very, VERY poor characterizations across the board. Not one of the characters has a distinct personality. And the animation ins very insconsistant. Taran is badly designed and animated, as are the witches. Gurgi is well animated, but poorly designed and badly voiced. The Gwaithaint sequence is thrilling, but leads to nothing. And the villain? Well, let's just say he "sounds" evil and talks a lot, but never does anything. Ever. The backgrounds are unusually dull, and sloppily painted.

Although the original cut of the film was just as bad, it made more sense overall. Would be nice if they put the 14 minutes cut back in, and put the film back in it's original order. For posterity more than anything.

Elmer Bernstein's score is nice, though. It was on CD for a while from Varese Sarabande, but is no longer available.

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Post by Ben » February 13th, 2009, 10:40 am

On and off the boil (sorry!) for ten years, The Black Cauldron was indeed a tumultuous production. But it's a popularly misconceived notion that the film never turned a profit...budgeted at $18 million, it finally came in at closer $25m, making over $21m on its initial release.

A theatrical reissue boosted that up to at least cover production costs and a later VHS release actually brought the numbers into the black. It's no blockbuster, and one is being charitable to say it just about broke even, but while it was a bomb, it's not fair on the film to say it didn't make money.

In the grand scheme of things, the likes of the $200m+ Treasure Planet, which returned just a fraction of that, and the $130-175m Home On The Range are much bigger flops on a budget to return ratio.

I agree that it would be neat to see a "director's cut", but the best we can hope for is to see the deleted sections as a supplement.

On the soundtrack: I think you may be mistaking this with The Great Mouse Detective, which <I>was</I> officially on Varese Sarabande. The Black Cauldron never got an official release, though there were <I>many</I> good looking bootlegs that used the Varese Sarabande design layout and made it look as good as a genuine release.

BTW, welcome to our boards! :)

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Post by EricJ » February 13th, 2009, 2:50 pm

Ben wrote:In the grand scheme of things, the likes of the $200m+ Treasure Planet, which returned just a fraction of that, and the $130-175m Home On The Range are much bigger flops on a budget to return ratio.
The difference, of course, being that, like "Atlantis" and Hercules's original theatrical run, Black Cauldron was opened with standard fanfare, Ron Miller-era "Obligation to see it" promotion hype, and had a June summer opening all to itself--
Unlike TP's "Seven Bad Decisions" and medically pulled plug, or HotR's March Slot of Death(tm), which Disney reserves only for the troubled-production firing squads.

...BC had every opportunity, and earned every dollar it didn't make. :(

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Post by Bill1978 » February 13th, 2009, 6:55 pm

Ben wrote:On the soundtrack: I think you may be mistaking this with The Great Mouse Detective, which was officially on Varese Sarabande. The Black Cauldron never got an official release, though there were many good looking bootlegs that used the Varese Sarabande design layout and made it look as good as a genuine release.
I beg to differ. The Black Cauldron's soundtrack did get a CD release. But due to the poor boxoffice showing, no extra copies were made after the initial pressings were released. It was one of the first soundtracks to get a CD release as far as I can recall. As I type this I am looking at the actual CD and it's not the bootleg version (I have that one as well). And if it is a bootleg then they've gone to a lot of effort to make the CD and booklet look old. It's from 1985 and has 9 tracks. In fact if you want you can actually purchase the soundtrack from iTunes. If you live in the US that is. Alternatively you could watch eBay as they often have some up for auction.

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Post by Ben » February 13th, 2009, 8:03 pm

You know...in all my years of soundtrack hunting and asking a few well connected people in the know on such things, I've never been able to come across an officially released Bernstein soundtrack for BC.

I'm glad to hear there was one, but it can only have been of limited release to begin with...even the Return To Oz soundtrack is more easily located than this one.

Thanks for the info! :)

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Post by Bill1978 » February 13th, 2009, 10:49 pm

You're welcome Ben.

Collecting scores to theatrically released animated films is one of my passions. I actually made 1985 the official starting year for my collection due to The Black Cauldron. I had the bootleg for ages and I would say it was one of the best days of my life when I found the official soundtrack. Really helped me feel like the collection would be complete. It will bug me forever that Delgo was not a success since I won't ever be able to own that soundtrack.

I think The Black Cauldron would rank in my Top 5 of Best Scores to an Animated Movie.

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Post by Ben » February 14th, 2009, 12:20 am

I started before 1985...on vinyl! My first CDs were probably from around then...but there are more than a few I missed out on. I'd love to find an official Cauldron CD.

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Post by Bill1978 » February 14th, 2009, 12:33 am

I didn't actually start officially collecting until 2000, I just needed a cut off point so I could focus on the collection and 1985 was it so The Black Cauldron could be counted.

You've been collecting for a while. My first CD was in 1996 I think. I wasn't ready to stop using cassettes LOL

There are currently about 11 Official Black Cauldron LPs on ebay

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Post by Ben » February 14th, 2009, 1:26 pm

I started collecting records when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. My first ever pocket money, or allowance, was saved and spent on a Storyteller album of Winnie The Pooh And The Honey Tree, a 45rpm sized disc that actually played at 33rpm and featured the story on one side and the three songs on the other, tucked in the back of a 45rpm sized booklet cover. Pretty neat. There were a whole load of them until they started reissuing them on 33rpm sized discs.

That must have been the mid-1970s, from which I picked up any Disney records I could before "expanding" out into soundtracks proper. I can't remember specifics, but I had the Muppet Show albums, the Tron and Popeye LPs, goodness knows what else (racking my brain)...they're all in storage now. Tapes were big too: I still have my 1982 Fantasia re-do ("in stereo"!) of Irwin Kostal's version of the score, and several OSTs.

CDs I don't think I started picking up around the late 1980s, maybe 86 or 87. I know I was still collecting vinyl LPs until then as well: Three Amigos!, Batman, the Back To The Future trilogy I have all on vinyl as well as probably 40 or so others from around that time. I didn't really get into CDs until I got my LaserDisc player around 1990/91, when a few discs came with such sets as Jaws, ET and Pinocchio.

After that there was no stopping me: I went back and collected what I needed that had been released on CD up until that point and have kept collecting ever since. I must admit to be very more selective now though, usually going for the animated film scores, but otherwise looking out for rarities, specials or limited editions (Music For A Darkened Theater and Volume 2...when the heck will they compile a Volume 3!) from the Screen Archives series and such.

Thanks for the note on the BC LP...though at this point I would probably hold out for the CD version. I transferred a number of soundtracks from LP over to CD three or four years ago and it took ages, so I'd rather spent a bit more and just get the already done version!

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Post by Wonderlicious » February 28th, 2009, 7:38 am

Ben wrote:On and off the boil (sorry!) for ten years, The Black Cauldron was indeed a tumultuous production. But it's a popularly misconceived notion that the film never turned a profit...budgeted at $18 million, it finally came in at closer $25m, making over $21m on its initial release.

A theatrical reissue boosted that up to at least cover production costs and a later VHS release actually brought the numbers into the black. It's no blockbuster, and one is being charitable to say it just about broke even, but while it was a bomb, it's not fair on the film to say it didn't make money.
When/where was there a re-release of The Black Cauldron? I know that I was probably young when it did happen, but I'm surprised that I wouldn't have heard anything (since as a child I was somehow fairly clued into what Disney animated films were playing).

Also (always wondered if this were true or not), I read years back on the old Animated-Movies site that The Black Cauldron was going to come out on video around 1990ish, but the success of The Little Mermaid ended up shoving it back into the vault.
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