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Reeling through the years.

1923

Walt E. and Roy O. Disney set up shop in L.A. as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, after relocating from Kansas City, Mo. They sign a deal with M.J. Winkler to produce a series of shorts adapted from Lewis Carroll's "Alice" stories.

1924

Walt Disney begins to assemble his first team of animators, and sets up a small studio in Hollywood. He persuades his friend, animator Ub Iwerks, to relocate.

1926

Studio moves to Hyperion Avenue.

1927

Producer Charles Mintz and Universal Pictures greenlight Disney's proposed "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" series.

1928

After a debate over money, Disney ceases production on Universal's "Oswald" cartoons, relinquishing the ownership of the character to Mintz. Altering the Oswald character some, Disney creates Mickey (originally Mortimer) Mouse, inspired by a pet he had in Kansas City. First Mickey short, "Plane Crazy," is produced. A second, "Gallopin' Gaucho," follows but neither is picked up for distribution.

Disney decides to synchronize his third Mickey Mouse cartoon, "Steamboat Willie," to sound after the success of "The Jazz Singer." Still without a distrib, "Steamboat Willie" premieres at New York's Colony Theater (the manager pays Disney the tidy sum of $1,000 for a two-week run) in November. The short--and Mickey--are instant sensations.

Disney signs a distrib deal with cinema audio system Cinephone creator Pat Powers.

1929

Sound is added to the first three produced Mickey cartoons: "Plane Crazy," "The Gallopin' Gaucho" and "The Barn Dance."

Walt Disney Enterprises subsidiary is established to handle licensing.

The musically based "Silly Symphony" cartoon shorts debut.

1930

Ending its pact with Powers (who hires Iwerks away about the same time), the studio cuts a distrib deal with Columbia Pictures.

1931

"Mickey's Orphans" and "Silly Symphony" short "Flowers & Trees," the studio's first color cartoon, become the first Disney shorts to win Academy Awards.

1932

Disney cuts ties with Columbia, and inks a new distrib pact with United Artists.

1934

Flush with the success from his shorts, Disney decides to commence production on his first feature-length animation film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

Donald Duck debuts in "The Wise Little Hen" "Silly Symphony" short.

1935

The first Mickey Mouse color cartoon, "The Band Concert," is released.

1937

"Snow White," which would become for a time the biggest box-office hit ever (surpassing D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation"), grosses $8.5 million--which would translate into several hundred millions by today's standards--and launches Disney's feature production division. It is also among the first Disney films distributed by RKO in a pact inked the same year.

"Fantasia" marries eight imaginative animated sequences with symphonic music conducted by Leopold Stokowski. The groundbreaking feature earns several critical hosannas.

"Pinocchio," and its Oscar-winning signature tune "When You Wish Upon a Star," are immediate audience favorites.

Disney begins moving production from its Hyperion Avenue site in Hollywood to Burbank.

1941

"The Reluctant Dragon," the studio's first animation-live-action feature, debuts.

At the urging of Nelson Rockefeller, Disney and a crew of animators make a goodwill tour of Latin America. Several shorts and two compilation animated features would result.

Later in the year, "Dumbo" is a modest hit for the studio, winning an Oscar for its score,

1942

"Bambi" debuts, earning raves for its naturalistic animation. Due to rising costs and wartime constraints, it would be Disney's last single-story animated feature until 1950's "Cinderella."

1944

With feature animation production suspended, Disney decides to rerelease "Snow White" to theaters to fill the void; its success leads Disney to approve the re-release of its classic animated features every seven years to entertain a new wave of young auds, a system that would later be extended to its homevideo releases.

1946

"Make Mine Music" is the first postwar package film, a compilation of smaller contained cartoons--set to more contemporary music than "Fantasia's" vignettes. Work is released as a cost-cutting measure.

"Song of the South" advances the integration of live actors and animated characters--it is also the closest Disney has come to a fully live-action film (only about a third is animation). Pic also necessitates the employment of Disney's first contract players: child stars Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten.

1948

The Oscar-winning nature doc short "Seal Island" launches the "True-Life Adventure" series.

1949

"The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" is the last package film released; it pairs a truncated version of a scuttled "Wind in the Willows" full-length pic with a featurette based on Washington Irving's Headless Horseman tale.

1950

Disney's first classic animated feature in almost a decade, "Cinderella," earns $4 million, the studio's biggest hit since "Snow White." Disney produces its first fully live-action feature, "Treasure Island"--the first of four live-action pics shot in the U.K.

Disney uses a TV special at Christmastime to promote its upcoming animated feature "Alice in Wonderland," a first for the studio.

1953

Disney splits with RKO when the distrib balks at releasing the nature doc and first full-length "True-Life Adventure," "The Living Desert"; Disney creates Buena Vista distrib arm, named after its Burbank street address, and releases "Desert," which earns a tidy profit.

"Peter Pan" performs solidly at the B.O.

1954

The weekly one-hour series "Disneyland" debuts in October on ABC.

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" is the most expensive live-action production to date, and the first produced outside the U.K. "Leagues" is also Disney's first CinemaScope feature. The following year, "Lady and the Tramp" is the studio's first Scope animated feature.

Disney broadcasts an edited version of "Alice in Wonderland," the first of its features aired on TV; "Treasure Island" would bow on Disney's television series in 1955.

Buena Vista releases its first non-Disney feature production, "Third Man on the Mountain."

1955

Disneyland, the first of several theme parks, opens in Anaheim, Calif.

The popularity of its small-screen "Davy Crockett" series leads to several live-action package films.

1957

Disney releases its sole "True-Life Fantasy" feature, "Perri," about a mischievous squirrel. Pic uses nature documentary-style footage in a fictional storyline.

The Robert Stevenson-helmed weepie "Old Yeller" grosses more than $8 million in its debut and becomes a perennial family favorite.

1959

The studio's first live-action comedy, "The Shaggy Dog," initially developed for TV, is released theatrically, earning more than $12 million and generates two sequels.

Studio purchases the 700-acre Golden Oak Ranch north of its Burbank studios to film features and TV series.

"Sleeping Beauty," Disney's most expensive ($6 million) animated feature to date, is only a mild hit, and its underperformance tempers a financially robust decade at the studio.

1960

Hayley Mills makes her Disney debut in "Pollyanna," which would earn the actress a special Oscar. She would act as a good-luck charm for the studio, appearing in B.O. hits "The Parent Trap" (1961) and "That Darn Cat" (1965).

1961

The B.O. hit "101 Dalmatians" is the first animated feature to use the "Xerox process" of creating cels; the film's financial success also ends a long spate of disappointing new teen releases.

1963

Disney releases its first-ever sequels: "Son of Flubber" (after "The Absent-Minded Professor") and "Savage Sam" ("Old Yeller").

1964

"Mary Poppins" breaks all records for Disney live-action releases--and earns Disney his first feature picture Academy Award nom (star Julie Andrews wins the actress trophy); it earns 13 nominations, still a record for a Disney film.

1966

Disney dies in December at age 65.

1967

"The Jungle Book," the last animated film supervised by the late Disney, is a hit; "The Happiest Millionaire," the final live-action film produced under Disney's watch, tanks.

1969

"The Love Bug" tops box-office charts for the year, spawning three sequels.

1970

"The Aristocats," the first toon feature completed without Disney, hits the theaters at a cost of $4 million. Walt Disney World opens in Orlando, Fla.

"Bednobs and Broomsticks" reunites the creative talent behind "Mary Poppins" and wins an Oscar for special effects.

1971

Roy O. Disney dies.

1977

Four years in the making, "The Rescuers" is a solid B.O. performer during a rather fallow period for Disney animation.

1979

BV's first pickup of the post-Disney era, wrestling comedy "Take Down," is the first film distributed by the studio to carry a PG rating. In December, the expensive sci-fipic "The Black Hole" is the first inhouse production to carry the rating.

"Black Hole's" weak B.O. performance is offset by a slew of re-released animated and live-action pics, which are often outgrossing the studio's new releases.

1980

Disney and Paramount co-produce Robert Airman's "Popeye"; after a second B.C. underpertormer, 1981's "Dragonslayer," the studios end their joint venture.

Walt Disney Home Video launches with the release of 10 live-action features on videocassette including "Mary Poppins." "Alice in Wonderland" and "Dumbo," the first toon features on tape and the only ones shown on broadcast TV, hit the shelves in 1981.

1982

"Tron" pushes the computer-generated effects envelope and signals the beginning of the digital revolution, but fails to generate interest among moviegoers.

1983

Ron Miller, Walt Disney's son-in-law, becomes chief exec and launches the more adult "Touchstone Pictures label. The Disney Channel debuts on cable in April.

The first direct-to-cable Disney Channel film, "Tiger Town," airs.

1984

Miller is ousted in a power struggle with Roy E. Disney, son of Ron O., and Michael Eisner is named chairman-CEO, while Frank Wells is tapped president-chief operating officer. Jeffrey Katzenberg is brought aboard as chair of the company's moviemaking division. "Splash," the first pic released by Touchstone, sets an opening-weekend record for Buena Vista.

1985

Homevideo arm releases first direct-to-vid release, the dancing drama "Breakin' Through." "Pinocchio," after a successful theatrical re-release, is the first Disney animated "masterpiece" to be released on videocassette.

1986

Touchstone's "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," the first pic green]it under Eisner-Wells, is BV's first R-rated release; Touchstone also releases BV's first PG-13, "Adventures in Babysitting," in 1987. Walt Disney Prods. changes its name to the Walt Disney Co.

1987

First Disney Store opens in Glendale, Calif,

1988

Robert Zemeckis' "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" sets the standard for animated/live-action pics. "Oliver & Co." is the first Disney pic to use substantial computer-animation technology.

1989

"Dead Poets Society," from Touchstone, becomes the second BV film to nab a picture Oscar nomination.

"The Little Mermaid's" $89 million U.S. gross launches a renaissance at the wickets for new Disney animated films.

1990

Hollywood Pictures launches with summer hit "Arachnophobia." Disney releases its first theatrical animated sequel, "The Rescuers Down Under."

1991

"Beauty and the Beast" becomes the first toon feature to surpass $100 million in its initial release, and to be nominated for best picture; it wins two Oscars, for score and song. Producers Don Simpson (who would die in 1996) and Jerry Bruckheimer ink multipic pact with Disney.

1993

Disney purchases Miramax Films, already on its way to being an Oscar juggernaut and about to break out with Quentin Tarantino's Cannes fest winner "Pulp Fiction."

1994

"The Lion King" grosses $313 million domestically, smashing all previous BV records.

Frank Wells dies in Nevada helicopter crash, precipitating the resignation of Katzenberg after Eisner refuses to give him Wells' job.

Disney mounts the Broadway production of "Beauty and the Beast"; it and highly acclaimed follow-up "The Lion King," which debuts in 1997, are still running.

"Snow White," the last of Disney's classic toon features to make its homevideo debut, hits the vidstore shelves after a full digital restoration, the first afforded to a Disney film.

The Oscar-winning "Pulp Fiction" is the first Miramax film to break $100 million domestically.

1995

The smash "Toy Story," the first fully computer-animated feature, is the first pic produced in partnership with Pixar Animation.

Disney buys the ABC television network for $19 billion.

1996

Dick Cook is appointed chair of the motion picture group and producer Joe Roth is promoted to chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

The live-action version of "101 Dalmatians" breaks the record for the biggest Thanksgiving theatrical bow.

Miramax's "The English Patient" is the arthouse arm's first best picture winner; "Shakespeare in Love" and "Chicago" would follow. Miramax's Dimension releases horror-comedy smash "Scream"; it would score even more coin four years later with the "Scream" spoof "Scary Movie."

1997

Eisner extends his contract with Disney for 10 years.

Disney releases its first DVDs; two years later, "Pinocchio" is the first animated feature to make its DVD debut.

1999

"Toy Stow 2," again a Pixar co-production, outgrosses its predecessor.

M. Night Shyamalan's suspenser "The Sixth Sense" is a sleeper summer smash for Hollywood Pictures and becomes the highest-grossing live-action pic ($293.5 million domestic) in BV's history.

"Fantasia/2000" debuts on New Year's Eve at Imax theaters before a traditional format release.

2000

Roth leaves the company to eventually form Revolution Pictures.

2001

"Beauty and the Beast" is reformatted for Imax release.

Disney purchases cable web Fox Family Channel, rebrands it ABC Family.

2002

"Spirited Away," a Japanese anime pic dubbed with an English soundtrack, wins Disney its first best animated feature Oscar.

Best picture winner "Chicago" surpasses "Good Will Hunting" to be Miramax's highest grosser.

2003

"Finding Nemo," a Pixar co-production, surpasses "The Lion King" to become BV's highest-grossing film ever, with a domestic take of more than $338 million. "The Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl," a Bruckheimer production, surpasses "The Sixth Sense" as BV's highest-grossing live-action pic; "Pirates" is also the first PG-13 film to be released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner.

James Cameron's 3-D Imax docu "Ghosts of the Abyss" released; Christmas will bring the dramatic feature "Young Black Stallion," specifically shot for Imax exhibition.

Sources: the studio; Dave Smith's "Disney A to Z"; "The Disney Studio Story," by Richard Holliss and Brian Sibley

KEY PLAYER

Roy E. Disney

Vice Chairman of the Board, Walt Disney Co. Chariman, Walt Disney Animation

Exec trivia: A record-setting yachtsman, Disney worked as an assistant film editor on the original "Dragnet" TV series and was nominated for an Oscar for writing the documentary short, "Mysteries of the Deep," in 1959.

The basics: Nephew of Walt, son of co-founder Roy, he's the only Disney still at Disney. He served the family biz for 25 years before temporarily departing between 1977-84. He returned to help rejuvenate the company's animation fortunes. In particular; he was the driving force behind the company's decision to revisit one of its classics, with "Fantasia 2000."

Rep: Disney's temporary departure from the company spurred a series of management shakeups that led to Michael Eisher's ascension. His consistent locus has revolved around preserving the company's animated film tradition.

POV: "What I'm proudest of, what my biggest accomplishment is: to have been lucky enough to have worked with so many wonderful, amazing artists through all my years here. It's really quite that simple."
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Title Annotation:Disney 80th Anniversary
Author:Collins, Keith
Publication:Variety
Date:Oct 27, 2003
Words:2446
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