It’s been a long, hard, war for the Disney Studios. They’ve had to fight against rival cartoon studios in the early days, and upstart
animation studios in recent years. But looking back into the world of live action, we must acknowledge that it was Disney who was the upstart!
Many asked if Walt Disney was serious when he decided to make live action films. And this skeptical talk only intensified over Disney’s choice of material. Animal documentaries? English period pieces? Sappy comedies?
No one would have picked Disney as the winner in live action films! As a matter of fact, Walt Disney did have trouble getting both the financing and the distribution for these earliest efforts. No one would take ‘The Cartoon King’ seriously.
And then one of his True Life Adventures won an Academy Award.
The competition was stunned! Walt wasn’t surprised and so soldiered on with even more unconventional content. Next, fully live action period pieces like Treasure Island and The Swiss Family Robinson became instant hits and are now enduring classics.
Next came the comedies. The Absent Minded Professor. Herbie the Love Bug. The Parent Trap. And many others. These films drew much criticism because of their hokey humor and sentimental messages. But did this mean a defeat for Disney? Not at all! All of these movies did good box office, and again, are still watched by millions today.
Would Disney be able to keep the momentum going? Again, Walt Disney died sometime during this period, and the live action division of his company suffered along with the cartoon and animation divisions.
The 1970’s and 1980’s yielded more of the same from the Disney live action division. A few notable films stand out, such as The Black Hole and Tron, but neither made a big enough impact at the time of their releases. But with the addition of Touchstone Pictures to the fold, Disney was free to get down and dirty with the competition! Films like Down And Out in Beverly Hills set a new tone for the studio, a tone that resonated with a whole new generation of moviegoers.
Disney was back in the battle! And back to win.
There are many live action films that likely come to your mind from the 1990’s and beyond. And although Disney can’t claim to be the all around best studio in the category of live action movies, they don’t have to apologize either. Far from it actually. For with the release of The Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Disney did what many other studios have never done: They grossed over 1 billion dollars with just one movie! (And if you’re still with me on the Triple Threat angle, they also grossed over 1 billion dollars with just one animated movie the same year, via Pixar.)
So in conclusion, Disney is the Triple Threat of the entertainment business. From endearing cartoon characters to enduring animation classics to blockbuster live action films, Disney stands in a class all its own.
Send up the white flag. Disney has won the war!