Disney Animation Owes EVERYTHING to Its Biggest Bomb

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Horned King in the Black Cauldron

Credit: Disney

To say that 2023 was a rough year for Disney would be putting it politely. Dubbed as Disney’s “Flop Era” by fans, lackluster releases and poor box office performances riddled the studio and tarnished the magic. Not since The Black Cauldron (1985) has the House of Mouse been on the ropes.

Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) with dog Legend. Credit: Disney
Credit: Disney

If we’re being completely honest, several of Disney’s recent releases have left a bad taste in many mouths. From Strange World (2022) to Wish (2023) and everything in between, Walt Disney Animation Studios seems to be truly struggling with its identity, and it’s had some lasting effects.

Related: Entertainment Bombshell Dropped, Pixar, Disney, and More Affected

We are often told to learn from our mistakes, and although figures like Bob Iger have made progress in recent announcements, Disney might be learning from the wrong ones. In their video below, @mr.unofficialceo shares where Disney needs to turn their attention.

Back to The Black Cauldron

@mr.unofficialceo

The film that almost ended Disney… and apparently Mr.Unofficial? ⚔️💀🥣 #disney #disney100 #animation #marathon #disneyhistory #disneysecrets #blackcauldron #dnd #fantasy #horror #distok #disneyadult

♬ Meditation. Spiritual Ambient(1299135) – shince music

If there’s one movie that lurks in the darkest corners of Disney’s history, it’s The Black Cauldron. Disney’s original cult film has undergone many monikers in its time, but it’s often remarked is Disney’s black sheep or the project that nearly killed Disney Animation. However, looking back at what went wrong as well as what went right, Disney might owe more to its “black sheep” than people might think.

Related: Disney Legend Michael Eisner Still Teaching Bob Iger

As pointed out in the video above, The Black Cauldron was truly something different from the Walt Disney Company. The tale of Taran the Wanderer, Princess Eilonwy, and the evil Horned King was a dark fantasy epic based on a book series by Lloyd Alexander that was incredibly intense, had magnificent designs, and even had some debut work from many legendary Disney creators. So what happened?

What Went Right?

The Horned King summoning the dead in The Black Cauldron
Credit: Disney

The Black Cauldron is truly a movie that needs to be studied. Although its miserable performance at the box office nearly cost Disney Animation its very existence, it was actually a pioneer of its day.

Related: Four Wins of the Disney Renaissance that Happened in Spite of Jeffrey Katzenberg

Along with featuring some of the earliest work from Disney Legends like Andreas Deja and even a young Tim Burton, it was one of the first Disney movies to experiment with computer animation. If it wasn’t for this film, Disney might not have ever shown interest in projects like Pixar. The Horned King walked so Woody could run.

the black cauldron remake
Credit: Disney

Many are so drawn to the idea that the movie almost wiped out Disney Animation that they fail to realize what could’ve happened if it had been a success. This was Disney’s first animated feature meant mostly for an older audience, a territory the company is arguably still struggling with today. @mr.unofficialceo isn’t exaggerating with his comments about Disney backing themselves into a child-friendly corner, and The Black Cauldron still remains as a stepping stone in trying to reach a more mature audience.

Related: New Campaign Continues Disney’s History of Violence

Looking back, The Black Cauldron isn’t a bad movie, but it’s a movie that was handled the wrong way. It had all the building blocks to be something unique and magical from Disney, but the studio ultimately fumbled the ball when Katzenberg got involved. Given the penchant for the strange and unusual modern movie-goers have, it might be time for Disney to head back to Prydain.

Were you a fan of The Black Cauldron? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!

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