October 23, 1941: Walt Disney’s ‘Dumbo’ flies into theaters
When it comes to movies, 1941 delivered some of the greatest ones ever made. From Citizen Kane to Gone with the Wind, movie buffs got their fix. One popular movie studio struggled around that time. Fortunately, they relied on a flying elephant to set things right again.
Three strikes but not out
Disney was a rising movie studio with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, their first three films (Snow White, Pinocchio, and Fantasia) were colossal failures at the box office. When it came to their next film, they looked to another children’s book for inspiration.
They chose the story Dumbo, which was written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl. Walt Disney was not impressed with the concept at all. He wasn’t sure if a story about a flying elephant would take off in that era. Fortunately, writers Joe Grant and Dick Huemer persuaded him to green light the project.
Toning it down
Disney’s first three films were filled with lavish designs for its time. For Dumbo, none of that was present on the animation floor. They decided to keep it simple in order to save a few bucks. Disney had no problem being a cheapskate in order to deliver quality content.
Unfortunately, the film hit a major roadblock with the Disney animators’ strike. While it only lasted five weeks, it put a lot more pressure on everyone to finish the film in time.
When I see an elephant fly
On October 23, 1941, Dumbo was officially released to the general public. The film earned around $1.6 million in its original release. Fortunately, there wasn’t an outlandish marketing cost, so they made some money back. Much like their first three films, they re-released Dumbo on numerous occasions in the following years. None of these re-releases were cool enough to feature 3 seconds worth of new footage, though.
Today, Dumbo is still gaining new fans through the magic of the internet. While a live-action film is in the works, nothing can ever top the magical feeling of the original.