p. 39 p. 40

When Thomas Schumacher, President of Walt Disney Feature Animation, joined the studio in 1988, Disney had yet to artistically explode into an all-out Renaissance, that would spawn such phenomenal successes as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, THE LION KING and TOY STORY.

Schumacher played a large role in bringing such projects to life, but when asked to reflect on his 12-year journey in animation, he becomes decidedly modest. "No one has a journey alone in the animation business," he said. "You are always traveling with many other people, in lock step, arm-in-arm. The power of collaboration and the joy of seeing people at their best is what this is about."

This mindset is what many say separates Schumacher from other Hollywood studio executives. His ability to nurture the creative process has allowed Disney animation to rise again from the ashes, becoming the entertainment for "all ages," that Walt himself had originally intended.

"When animation moved into the mainstream of filmmaking," noted Schumacher, "we hit a time when animated movies were making between $100 and $150 million. Those are clearly legitimate movies that both adults and children are going to."

Before such stratospheric numbers, there was the modest RESCUERS DOWN UNDER (1990). It was with this film that Schumacher joined Disney as a producer and went on to serve as executive producer on 1994's blockbuster, THE LION KING. Following the success of that film, Schumacher was elevated to the role of executive vice president. Before joining Disney, Schumacher spent a decade working in the performing arts, where, among his roles, he was director of the 1987 Los Angeles Festival of Arts and general assistant manager of the Los Angeles Ballet.