Today In Disney History ~ June 11th
Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated musical romantic fantasy drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 30th Disney animated feature film and the third released during the Disney Renaissance period, it is based on the French fairy tale of the same name by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, who was also credited in the English version as well as in the French version, and ideas from the 1946 French film directed by Jean Cocteau. Beauty and the Beast focuses on the relationship between the Beast (voice of Robby Benson), a prince who is magically transformed into a monster as punishment for his arrogance, and Belle (voice of Paige O’Hara), a young woman whom he imprisons in his castle. To become a prince again, Beast must learn to love Belle and earn her love in return to avoid remaining a monster forever. The film also features the voices of Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, and Angela Lansbury.
Walt Disney first attempted unsuccessfully to adapt Beauty and the Beast into an animated film during the 1930s and 1950s. Following the success of The Little Mermaid (1989), Walt Disney Pictures decided to adapt the fairy tale, which Richard Purdum originally conceived as a non-musical. Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg eventually dismissed Purdum’s idea and ordered that the film be a musical similar to The Little Mermaid instead. The film was directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, with a screenplay by Linda Woolverton story first credited to Roger Allers. Lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken wrote the film’s songs. Ashman, who additionally served as the film’s executive producer, died of AIDS-related complications eight months before the film’s release, and the film is thus dedicated to his memory.
Beauty and the Beast premiered as an unfinished film at the New York Film Festival on September 29, 1991, followed by its theatrical release as a completed film at the El Capitan Theatre on November 13. The film was a box office success, grossing $425 million worldwide on a $25 million budget. Beauty and the Beast received positive reviews from critics; it won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and became the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for its title song. In April 1994, Beauty and the Beast became Disney’s first animated film to be adapted into a Broadway musical. The success of the film spawned two direct-to-video follow-ups: Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997) and Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World (1998). This was followed by a spin-off television series, Sing Me a Story with Belle. An IMAX version was released in 2002 that included “Human Again”, a new five-minute musical sequence. After the success of the 3D re-release of The Lion King, the film was reissued in 3D in 2012. In 2002, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. A live-action remake of the film was released on March 17, 2017.
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