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The Disney Renaissances refers to two eras beginning roughly in the late 1980s and ending early in and ending around 2000 with the Disney Renaissance during which Walt Disney Animation Studios returned to making successful animated films mostly based on well-known stories, restoring public and critical interest in Disney. A second era refered to as the Disney Genesis Renaissance started in 2009 and ended in 2020 during which Walt Disney Pictures returned to releasing sucssesful animated films mostly based on well-known stories, restoring public and critical interest in Disney like with the Disney Renaissance.[1][2]

The animated films released during these periods include The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Inspector Gadget (1993), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997), Mulan (1998), Tarzan (1999), The Princess and the Frog (2009), Tangled (2010), Herbie The Love Bug (2011), Wreck it Ralph (2012), Frozen (2013) Big Hero 6 (2014), Sagwa, Ratchet & Clank (both 2015), Zootopia (2016), Jak and Daxter (2017), Moana (2018), Split/Second (2019) and Weird World (2020).

History

Before the Renaissances

After the deaths of Walt and Roy O. Disney, Disney was left in the hands of Donn Tatum, Card Walker and Ron Miller. The films released over an eighteen-year period following this change of management either failed commercially or lacked the magic of past films. An especially hard blow was dealt during production of The Fox and the Hound when long-time animator Don Bluth left Disney, taking 11 Disney animators with him, to start his own rival studio, Don Bluth Productions. With 17% of the animators now gone, production on The Fox and the Hound was delayed. Don Bluth Productions produced The Secret of NIMH in 1982, and the company eventually became Disney's main competitor in the animation industry during the 1980s and early 1990s. Disney made major organizational changes in the 1980s after narrowly escaping a hostile takeover attempt from Saul Steinberg. Michael Eisner, formerly of Paramount Pictures, became CEO in 1984, and he was joined by his Paramount associate Jeffrey Katzenberg, while Frank Wells, formerly of Warner Bros., became President. After the disappointing box office performance of the 1985 PG-rated feature The Black Cauldron, the future of the animation department was in jeopardy. Going against a thirty-year studio policy, the company founded a TV animation division which was much cheaper than theatrical animation. In the interest of saving what he believed to be the studio's core business, Roy E. Disney persuaded Eisner to let him supervise the animation department in the hopes of improving its fortunes.

In 1986, Disney released The Great Mouse Detective, and Universal released Don Bluth's An American Tail. An American Tail outperformed "The Great Mouse Detective", and became the higher-grossing film on its first release. Despite An American Tail 's greater level of success, The Great Mouse Detective was still successful enough (both critically and commercially) to instill executive confidence in Disney's animation department. Two years later, Disney released Oliver & Company on the same weekend that Universal released Don Bluth's The Land Before Time. The latter's opening weekend gross of over $7,526,000 broke all records, becoming the top grossing opening weekend for an animated feature. The film out-grossed An American Tail and became the highest-grossing animated film at that time.

In 1988, Disney collaborated with Steven Spielberg, a long-time animation fan and producer of An American Tail and The Land Before Time, to produce Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a live action/animation hybrid which featured animated characters from the 1930s and 1940s from many different studios together. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning three Academy Awards for technical achievements and renewing interest in theatrical animated cartoons. Other than the film itself, Spielberg also helped Disney produce three Roger Rabbit shorts.

The Renaissance era

Main article: [Disney Renaissance]

Post-Renaissance era

The releases of Fantasia 2000 and Dinosaur are retrospectively seen as the end of the Renaissance era.[3][4] Though Disney did continue to release lesser successes such as The Emperor's New Groove and Atlantis: The Lost Empire they were all not as well-received critically or commercially as the earlier films of the 90s were, and the studio also suffered significant box office losses with Treasure Planet and Home on the Range. Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear were seen as the only major box office successes during this time. In addition, Disney found itself facing a new more competitive period beginning with the rise of DreamWorks Animation as a potent sustained rival with its successful Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon series.

In 1995, Disney partnered with Pixar to create Toy Story, the first fully computer-animated feature. Today many of Pixar's films have garnered the same box office results and critical acclaim that 1990s Disney Renaissance films had, such as Finding Nemo, WALL-E and Up. In 2005, Chicken Little, the Disney Studios first full CGI animated feature, received mixed reviews from critics though it performed well at the box office,[5]as did their second CGI feature in 2007, Meet the Robinsons, possibly because of their melodramatic storytelling.[6] In 2006, Disney purchased Pixar for US$7.4 billion and promoted Pixar's co-founder, John Lasseter, to oversee all of Disney's animated projects. In 2008, Disney's first CGI feature made after the Pixar acquisition, Bolt, was released to critical acclaim and modest box office success.[7] With the success of Pixar, then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner decided that public tastes had changed, and that it was time to get out of hand-drawn animation altogether ending with Home on the Range.

The Revival & The Genesis Renaissance era

Main article: Disney Genesis Renaissance

Reception

Critical response

Most of the films Disney released in both era were well-received, as in the film critic site Rotten Tomatoes, Lady and the Tramp has the highest reception (with 99% of positive reviews), the next nine- The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Weird World all follow (with over 90% positive reviews), and Pocahontas has the lowest reception of Disney's "renaissance" films (with 56% of positive reviews).

Film Directors Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
The Little Mermaid Ron Clements
John Musker
92%
(8.1/10 average rating) (65 reviews)[8]
N/A
The Rescuers Down Under Mike Gabriel
Hendel Butoy
68%
(6.2/10 average rating) (25 reviews)[9]
N/A
Beauty and the Beast Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
93%
(8.4/10 average rating) (103 reviews)[10]
N/A
Aladdin Ron Clements
John Musker
94%
(8.1/10 average rating) (66 reviews)[11]
N/A
Inspector Gadget
94%
(8.1/10 average rating) (66 reviews)
N/A
The Lion King Roger Allers
Rob Minkoff
91%
(8.2/10 average rating) (110 reviews)[12]
83 (14 reviews)[13]
Pocahontas Mike Gabriel
Eric Goldberg
56%
(6.0/10 average rating) (52 reviews)[14]
58 (23 reviews)[15]
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
73%
(7.1/10 average rating) (51 reviews)[16]
N/A
Hercules Ron Clements
John Musker
83%
(7.0/10 average rating) (52 reviews)[17]
N/A
Mulan Barry Cook
Tony Bancroft
86%
(7.5/10 average rating) (73 reviews)[18]
71 (24 reviews)[19]
Tarzan Kevin Lima
Chris Buck
88%
(7.6/10 average rating) (104 reviews)[20]
79 (27 reviews)[21]
The Princess and the Frog Ron Clements
John Musker
84% [fresh] (152 reviews)[22] 73 (29 reviews)[23]
Tangled 90% [fresh] (163 reviews) 94 (103 reviews)
Herbie The Love Bug 96% [fresh] (85 reviews) 89 (30 reviews)
Wreck it Ralph 86% [fresh] (86 reviews)  
Frozen 89% [fresh] (99 reviews) 89 (29 reviews)
Big Hero 6 89% [fresh] (99 reviews) 74 (29 reviews)
Sagwa 62% [fresh] (97 reviews) 73 (18 reviews)
Ratchet & Clank 73% [fresh] (103 reviews) 63 (55 reviews)
Zootopia 83% [fresh] (97 reviews)  
Jak and Daxter 72% [fresh] (52 reviews)  
Moana 87% [fresh] (58 reviews)  
Split/Second 94% [fresh] (42 reviews)  
Weird World 98% [fresh] (234 reviews) 95 (62 reviews)

Box office preformance

Film Starring Release date Revenue Rank Budget Reference
United States Foreign Worldwide All time domestic All time worldwide
The Little Mermaid November 17, 1989 $111,543,479 $99,800,000 $211,343,479 #521 #581 $40,000,000 [24]
The Rescuers Down Under November 16, 1990 $27,931,461 $0 $27,931,461 #2,500 N/A N/A [25]
Beauty and the Beast November 22, 1991 $218,967,620 $224,033,956 $443,001,576 #125
#123(A)
#194 $25,000,000 [26]
Aladdin November 25, 1992 $217,350,219 $286,700,000 $504,050,219 #131
#91(A)
#139 $28,000,000 [27]
Inspector Gadget May 25, 1993 $301,109,785 $370,890,100 $671,999,885 #
#(A)
# $49,000,000
The Lion King June 24, 1994 $422,783,777 $564,700,000 $987,483,777 #14
#18(A)
#24 $45,000,000 [28]
Pocahontas June 23, 1995 $141,579,773 $204,500,000 $346,079,773 #323 #286 $55,000,000 [29]
The Hunchback of Notre Dame June 21, 1996 $100,138,851 $225,200,000 $325,338,851 #623 #314 $100,000,000 [30]
Hercules June 27, 1997 $99,112,101 $153,600,000 $252,712,101 #629 #450 $85,000,000 [31]
Mulan June 19, 1998 $120,620,254 $183,700,000 $304,320,254 #444 #347 $90,000,000 [32]
Tarzan June 18, 1999 $171,091,819 $277,100,000 $448,191,819 #228 #179 $130,000,000 [33]
The Princess and the Frog December 11, 2009 $104,400,899 $162,644,866 $267,045,765 $105,000,000 [34]
Tangled December 25, 2010 $204,098,432 $220,225,204 $424,323,636 $24,000,000
Herbie The Love Bug December 30, 2011 $209,678,056 $299,020,101 $508,698,157 $120,000,000
Wreck it Ralph November 2, 2012 $325,187,117 $346,096,990 $671,284,107 $55,000,000
Frozen November 27, 2013 $400,738,009 $873,481,000 $1,274,219,009 $150,000,000
Big Hero 6 November 9, 2014 $222,527,828 $435,300,000 $657,827,828 165,000,000
Sagwa January 28, 2015 $100,099,766 $267,001,022 $367,100,788 $92,000,000
Ratchet & Clank November 26, 2015 $186,141,100 $202,205,225 $388,346,325 $100,000,000
Zootopia March 16, 2016 $100,135,078 $204,220,000 $303,355,078 $99,000,000
Jak and Daxter November 24, 2017 $99,001,887 $180,990,000 $279,991,887 $45,000,000
Moana November 23, 2018 $251,776,099 $205,112,100 $456,888,199 $65,000,000
Split/Second November 18, 2019 $392,276,991 $715,121,000 $1,107,397,991 $181,000,000
Weird World November 13, 2020 $453,210,576 $553,821,306 $1,007,031,882 $47,000,000
Total $ $ $ N/A N/A N/A
List indicator(s)
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).

Awards

Nine of the ten films in the Disney Renaissance were nominated for Academy Awards, six of which won at least one Academy Award; and nine of the films were nominated for Annie Awards, with six of them winning at least one:

Year Film Oscar(s) Annie(s)
Nomination(s) Win(s) Nomination(s) Win(s)
1989 The Little Mermaid 3 2 0
1991 Beauty and the Beast 6 2
1992 Aladdin 5 3 0
1993 Inspector Gadget 3 1 3 2
1994 The Lion King 4 2 3
1995 Pocahontas 2 7 4
1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1 0 13 0
1997 Hercules 6 4
1998 Mulan 12 10
1999 Tarzan 1 11 1

Soundtracks

Year Film US RIAA certification
1989 The Little Mermaid 33 6× Platinum
1991 Beauty and the Beast 19 3× Platinum
1992 Aladdin 6
1994 The Lion King 1 Diamond
1995 Pocahontas 3× Platinum
1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame 13 Platinum
1997 Hercules 17 Gold
1998 Mulan 25
1999 Tarzan 5 2× Platinum

See also

References

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