The movie that saved Disney from bankruptcy is not the best, but it is one of the most famous

“Life under the sea is so much better than the world up there.”

There is no doubt: Walt Disney Studios is one of the major studios that dominates the film industry and, with the streaming platform Disney+ operating at full throttle and with the production companies Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfil, 20th Century Fox and Disney itself under his wing, no one would think that there was a time when the company was in serious danger of bankruptcy. But so it was.

Following the death of its founder, Walt Disney, in 1966, Disney had to deal with serious problems as a studio for almost two decades.. The death of the pioneering businessman was a severe blow to the company, which at first was able to get ahead hand in hand with the projects that Walt had already left underway during his lifetime, such as The Jungle Book (1967)but that, at the beginning of the 70s, he began to notice un decline as a result of the absence of what had been its main creative genius.

In that period, the animated films that were released were the not infrequently famous Robin Hood (1973) or The Aristocats (1970), which while by no means bad movies, turned out to be most sober works compared to the innovative of most of its predecessors, which had been true classics: The Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, 101 dalmatas… In fact, so much so that it is unusual to find any of the “Disney classics” released during the 70-80 among the tops: Todd and Toby, The rescuers, Basil the super detective mouse, Oliver and his gang… We are not exaggerating if we point them out as the most forgettable.

Meanwhile, luckily, the live-action family movies were doing much better, helping to keep the company alive. But, especially with the rise of blockbusters, at the hands of great masters such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the future of Disney was a matter of time and theThe solution was to restore its prestige and leave behind forever the mediocre products of its animation arm. In fact, it is not a secret that the higher-ups came really close to shutting down the legendary animation studio.

However, after the disaster taron and the magic cauldron in 1985 director John Clements was clear that the focus for the next attempt had to be a return to basics. A musical fairy tale that ended up becoming the adaptation of the story by Hans Christian Andersen The little Mermaid, an idea that Walt Disney himself had already been considering for decades. Thirty years before death.

In making the new film, Clements and studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg decided to go all out. They were clear that they wanted a Broadway style, so they hired several hit writers, and they also dared to innovate again. The budget of The little Mermaid it was much higher than any of the previous films, but it was also the highest special effects animation for a Disney animated feature.

And the success was overwhelming. With a collection of more than 200 million in 1989, The little Mermaid it became the company’s first blockbuster in the past two decades and, with an incredible reception among the public and critics, restored its prestige, ultimately giving rise to one of the best stages in the history of Disney starring the premieres of Beauty and the Beast, aladdin, The Lion King either Pocahontas.