History of Walt Disney Movies

The history of Walt Disney movies includes some of the most groundbreaking animated films of the 20th century. After nearly two decades of acclaimed cartoons and the creation of beloved characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Walt Disney turned his energies to create the first of dozens of feature length animated movies.

1937 to 1949
"Snow White" (1937) debuted to a welcoming public, earned an honorary Academy Award for screen innovation. Earnings allowed Disney to finance other film projects, such as "Pinocchio" (1940), "Fantasia" (1940), "Dumbo" (1941) and "Bambi" (1942). Small profits were enjoyed, but the outbreak of World War II had a significant impact on both the studio and audience demands. In 1946, Disney released "Song of the South," a mix of live action and animation, which made no money but earned several Academy Awards.

1950 to 1965
"Cinderella" (1950) was the studio's first profitable movie since "Snow White" and did well at box offices around the world. "Alice in Wonderland" (1951) followed soon after, as did "Peter Pan" (1953). "Lady and the Tramp" (1955), "Sleeping Beauty" (1959), "101 Dalmatians" (1961) and "The Sword in the Stone" (1963) came out in rapid succession to moderate success. The spectacular success of "Mary Poppins" in 1964-including 13 Academy Awards-paved the way for more blended Walt Disney films, pictures that featured both live action and animation, including "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (1971) and "Pete's Dragon" (1977).

1965 to 1989
While there were bright spots for Disney animated films during this time, films were generally considered moderate successes but with none of the groundbreaking techniques or Disney magic of earlier decades. "The Jungle Book" (1967) was another success for Disney, but "The Aristocats" (1970), "Robin Hood" (1973), "The Rescuers" (1977), "The Fox and the Hound" (1981) and "The Black Cauldron" (1985) failed to capture major audience attention.

1989 to the 21st Century
Known as the Disney Renaissance, the 1990s brought back the Walt Disney magic to worldwide audiences. With "The Little Mermaid" (1989), "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), "Aladdin" (1992) and "The Lion King" (1995), Disney animated films spawned Broadway shows, merchandising and spin-off movies and TV series. Partnerships with Pixar brought animated films to a whole new level, with "Toy Story" (1995) "Monsters, Inc." (2001) and "Cars" (2006).

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