Ed Black, an Ohio Radio & TV newsman, and a very knowledgeable animation and cartoon buff, has written a number of stories about top professionals in our field for previous issues of CARTOONIST PROfiles. As you will recall, he has PROfiled animators Chuck Jones and Ward Kimball, as welt as Dick “Gasoline Alley’’ Moores during the past few years.
In this piece he takes us behind the scenes of the Walt Disney production, “Pete’s Dragon. ”
When Disney Productions first announced the production of “PETE’S DRAGON” in June, 1976, it was billed as the Studio’s most ambitious project since “MARY POPPINS” in 1964.
MARY POPPINS was a box office blockbuster, and received several Oscars during the 1965 Academy Award presentations, including one for the animation team headed by Mac-Claren Stewart for that picture.
Since MARY POPPINS, the Studio turned out two other musicals, “THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE” with Fred MacMurray and Tommy Steele in 1967, and “BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS” in 1970 with Angela Lans-bury. But neither of those films was taken to heart as much as MARY POPPINS was by both the public and critics alike.
“PETE’S DRAGON” does appear to be quite an ambitious project. It was given about one year’s production time, with the cameras rolling on July 6, 1976, to be ready for Christmas, 1977, release, which it was.