How Disney Made Beauty And The Beast a Movie Adults Wanted to See

The team behind Disney’s original Beauty and the Beast reveals how adults were also enticed to watch the film along with younger audiences. The 1991 animated musical garnered unprecedented success, taking in $440 million at the box office and becoming the first animated film to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Its success was subsequently mirrored almost 26 years later upon the release of its live-action remake, which raked in an astounding $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office.

Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, the original Beauty and the Beast was the third film born of Disney’s so-called Renaissance period, which saw the production of other iconic animations such as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Tarzan. Based on the classic 1756 fairytale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Belle (voiced by Paige O’Hara), an adventure-seeking young woman who exchanges her own freedom for the safety of her father and unwittingly discovers the humanity within her supposed jailer, the Beast.

Related: How Beauty & The Beast's Belle Connects To Shared Disney Princess Universe

Addressing the success of the iconic Disney animation during an interview with THR, the team behind Beauty and the Beast discussed how older audiences were also drawn to watch the film. After referencing a glowing review for the picture at its New York Film Festival screening, distribution president Dick Cook revealed that former Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg became “not only fearless but maniacal about marketing the film to adults.” Stating that every piece of promotional material needed to be sophisticated, campaign strategist Terry Press said that the film’s poster of Belle dancing with the Beast looked purposefully “adult,” adding, “You could have substituted live-action people in that poster and felt exactly the same thing, romanticism.

Something of a standout Disney's Renaissance period, Beauty and the Beast’s more mature presentation may have helped bolster it into the consideration of the Academy Award committee. To date, only two other animated films (Up and Toy Story 3), have ever been honored with a Best Picture nomination. Both pictures arguably held a similar element of maturity, including older characters and more serious themes, which may have contributed to their nominations.

Though Disney has produced a multitude of major titles since the production of Beauty and the Beast in 1991, the film undoubtedly served as a turning point for the studio. Demonstrating the company’s filmmaking potential beyond a child-centric audience, as well as showing that it was possible to create something that was equally appealing to all ages, Beauty and the Beast arguably set Disney on the course to success with huge franchises like Star Wars and Marvel. So, while the live-action remake produced in 2017 may have entranced a new generation with the story of Beauty and the Beast, the 90s classic will continue to have a permanent impression on Disney as a whole.

More: How The Disney Renaissance Changed Disney Princesses For The Worse

Source: THR

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