NEWFOUND wealth, regardless of its source, is viewed with the same fact-distorting enthusiasm as that which greets a gold strike. News and rumors fly thick and fast, gathering exaggeration as one wild-eyed narrator whispers to another.
The latest gold-strike gossip concerns Walt Disney, pied piper of the nation’s children – of the world’s children – and his supposed record-breaking financial harvest from the popularity of his animated cartoon sound pictures. The contagious national enthusiasm over the Mickey Mouse films and, since last summer, over “Three Little Pigs,” has given impetus to an erroneous belief that the creator of these quaint characters is gaining fabulous riches from the movie-going public.
This widespread misapprehension may be due to subtle film publicity. From time to time official publicity items have placed peculiar emphasis on the fact that Disney takes a modest salary, $150 or $200 a week, and “puts the rest back into the business.” No publicity items have attempted to explain what is meant by “the rest.”
On several occasions the artist has personally denied the rumors of his vast income from the films. As an obvious attempt to correct the misconstruction, he declared that his net profits on the amazing “Three Little Pigs” would total about $25,000 from world-wide sales. And this picture is the most popular short feature ever produced.
A study of Mickey Mouse’s film finances seems to uphold Disney. His revenue from other sources may attain unprecedented heights, but a few actual film figures and contract clauses indicate that Disney’s wealth from the motion pictures has been exaggerated. The story of his financial adventures constitutes a significant chapter in the unhappy chronicle of the artist among the business men.