At the screening I attended for the Disney documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, an audience member got up during the filmmaker Q&A and brought up this opinion: immediately following the events in the film (ending with the release of The Lion King in 1994) the studio's animated features began to suck again. It's true they went into another decline and ultimately led to a hiatus in traditionally animated works, but when did things begin to go downhill again? The "Disney Renaissance" technically lasted through the end of the '90s, arguably ending with Tarzan. However, relatively speaking, nothing could ever compare financially or critically to the power quartet of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. The disappointing two films that followed, Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, put a stop to the excitement with the revival.

Add the fact that Pixar's Toy Story shadowed the quality and box office of the non-computer-animated films being produced by Disney and the question of whether Jeffrey Katzenberg's departure contributed to the decline, and there's plenty of room to wonder if the Renaissance was more short-lived than we give credit for. Or are there fans out there who will defend Mulan enough to argue that the studio's eminence held on through the decade? And for those who've finally seen The Princess and the Frog now that's out on video, is the studio potentially entering another upturn?
categories Cinematical