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HISTORY

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, The Black Cauldron took twelve years to complete, and began in 1971 when Walt Disney Pictures, Inc., bought the film rights to the 1960’s popular five-volume fantasy series, The Chronicles of Prydain, written by Lloyd Alexander. The picture was Disney’s first animated feature shot in 70mm wide-screen film since the 1959 release of Sleeping Beauty (see entry), because the process demanded double the amount of animation as in regular format, and resulted in a lengthy production schedule.
       In 1971, the studio’s original team of animators, known as “Disney’s Nine Old Men,” were preparing to retire, and the company was forced to hire a new crop of animators, according to a 20 Nov 1978 Newsweek article. Disney reportedly had a goal of hiring forty animators from a pool of 5,000 applicants, and filming was delayed while the new team was properly trained. The studio planned for an opening date of 1984 and a budget of $15 million. However, the picture was threatened by the high cost of processing, which amounted to “$1,500 per foot of film,” according to the 4 Dec 1978 New West. Production notes listed vast materials utilized for the film, including 2,519,200 drawings, 400 gallons of paint, 400 paintbrushes, 15,000 pencils, 300 erasers, and thirty-four miles of film stock. In the end, over 200 employees, including sixty-eight animators, worked full-time on the $25 million project, and it was deemed “the most expensive animated feature ever made” by a 26 Jul 1985 Backstage news item.
       As stated in production ... More Less

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, The Black Cauldron took twelve years to complete, and began in 1971 when Walt Disney Pictures, Inc., bought the film rights to the 1960’s popular five-volume fantasy series, The Chronicles of Prydain, written by Lloyd Alexander. The picture was Disney’s first animated feature shot in 70mm wide-screen film since the 1959 release of Sleeping Beauty (see entry), because the process demanded double the amount of animation as in regular format, and resulted in a lengthy production schedule.
       In 1971, the studio’s original team of animators, known as “Disney’s Nine Old Men,” were preparing to retire, and the company was forced to hire a new crop of animators, according to a 20 Nov 1978 Newsweek article. Disney reportedly had a goal of hiring forty animators from a pool of 5,000 applicants, and filming was delayed while the new team was properly trained. The studio planned for an opening date of 1984 and a budget of $15 million. However, the picture was threatened by the high cost of processing, which amounted to “$1,500 per foot of film,” according to the 4 Dec 1978 New West. Production notes listed vast materials utilized for the film, including 2,519,200 drawings, 400 gallons of paint, 400 paintbrushes, 15,000 pencils, 300 erasers, and thirty-four miles of film stock. In the end, over 200 employees, including sixty-eight animators, worked full-time on the $25 million project, and it was deemed “the most expensive animated feature ever made” by a 26 Jul 1985 Backstage news item.
       As stated in production notes, several new technologies were used, including three scenes of computer animation, and an innovative method of transferring drawings to animation cels called Animation Photo Transfer (APT), which allowed greater speed and quality. The film was among the first to be recorded in stereo surround sound.
       The Black Cauldron made Disney history as its first animated feature with a PG-rating, according to the 26 Jul 1985 Backstage.
       A 19 Jun 1985 Var article announced that Radio City Music Hall and Walt Disney Productions would revive the tradition of presenting a live show paired with a feature film, and would screen The Black Cauldron as part of the program, “Disney Summer Magic,” on 21 June 1985.
       The 15 Jan 1981 Film Journal reported a Christmas 1984 release. However, the film was scheduled to open 24 Jul 1985 in 1,200 theatres, as stated in the 9 Jul 1985 HR.
       Reviews were mixed. An article in the 24 Apr 1998 HR, which announced the film’s video release, reported that The Black Cauldron was Disney’s only animated feature that did not make a profit.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Backstage
26 Jul 1985.
---
Film Journal
15 Jan1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 1985
p. 3, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1998
p. 3, 48.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jul 1985
Calendar, p. 1, 3.
New West
4 Dec 1978
p. 23.
New York Times
26 Jul 1985
p. 5.
Newsweek
20 Nov 1978
p. 81.
Variety
19 Jun 1985
p. 4, 31.
Variety
24 Jul 1985
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
produced in association with Silver Screen Partners II
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Addl dialogue by
Addl dialogue by
Addl story contr
Addl story contr
Addl story contr
Addl story contr
Addl story contr
Addl story contr
Addl story contr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Anim cam
Still cam
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Art props
MUSIC
Mus scoring mixer
Mus ed
Mus supv
Supv mus ed
Mus preparation
Mus contractor
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff des
Sd eff
Sd eff
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Picture eff ed
Picture eff ed
Picture eff ed
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Title graphics
End title des
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Prod secy
Prod secy
Admin supv
Admin office staff
Admin office staff
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
ANIMATION
Anim
Anim
Anim
Key coord anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Layout styling
Col styling
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Char des
Char des
Char des
Char des
Char des
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Key clean up artist
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Anim consultant
Asst layout
Asst layout
Asst layout
Asst layout
Asst layout
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst eff anim
Asst eff anim
Asst eff anim
Asst eff anim
Asst eff anim
Asst eff anim
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Breakdown artist
Eff breakdown artist
Eff breakdown artist
Eff breakdown artist
Inbetween artist
Inbetween artist
Inbetween artist
Inbetween artist
Inbetween artist
Inbetween artist
Inbetween artist
Eff inbetween artist
Eff inbetween artist
Eff inbetween artist
Eff inbetween artist
Blue sketch artist
Blue sketch artist
Ink and paint mgr
Anim check
Anim check
Anim check
Anim check
Anim check
Col model artist
Col model artist
Col model artist
Col model artist
Xerox/Anim photo transfer
Xerox/Anim photo transfer
Xerox/Anim photo transfer
Xerox/Anim photo transfer
Xerox/Anim photo transfer
Xerox/Anim photo transfer
Xerox/Anim photo transfer
Eff photo transfer
Key xerox checkers
Key xerox checkers
Key xerox checkers
Key xerox checkers
Key xerox checkers
Painting
Painting
Painting
Final check
Final check
Final check
Paint lab
Paint lab
Paint lab
Scene planning
Scene planning
Scene planning
Scene planning
Scene planning
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander.
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 July 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 July 1985
New York opening: 26 July 1985
Production Date:
1973--1985
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
25 July 1985
Copyright Number:
PA252525
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
Animation
Duration(in mins):
80 or 82
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27724
SYNOPSIS

A young assistant pig-keeper named Taran is frustrated working for his boss, Dallben, as he would rather prove his heroism in battle. Dallben swears Taran to secrecy, then shows the boy how a special pig named “Hen Wen” is able to produce magical visions. The prophecy produced by Hen Wen reveals that the Horned King is hunting the “Black Cauldron,” a mystical object that has been hidden for centuries and will unleash a powerful evil army. The Horned King also knows of the pig’s powers to bring forth visions, and plans to use Hen Wen to locate the Black Cauldron. Dallben orders Taran to hide the pig at a secret cottage in the forbidden forrest, and warns that the Horned King is a threat to all. In the woods, Hen Wen runs away, and is captured by the king’s dragons. When Taran journeys to the castle to rescue the pig, he is caught by the Horned King. The boy and Hen Wen are forced to conjure visions, but flee as the king’s henchmen give chase. Although Taran is captured and imprisoned, he throws the pig to safety into the castle moat. In captivity, Taran is visited by a young girl named Princess Eilonwy, who reveals that she is also a prisoner because the king believes her magic orb will reveal the Black Cauldron’s whereabouts. Eilonwy leads Taran through the castle’s secret passageways as they try to escape. The two stumble upon the burial chamber of the previous king, where Taran uncovers a sword. When Eilonwy and Taran are chased by guards, Taran uses the sword for protection, ... +


A young assistant pig-keeper named Taran is frustrated working for his boss, Dallben, as he would rather prove his heroism in battle. Dallben swears Taran to secrecy, then shows the boy how a special pig named “Hen Wen” is able to produce magical visions. The prophecy produced by Hen Wen reveals that the Horned King is hunting the “Black Cauldron,” a mystical object that has been hidden for centuries and will unleash a powerful evil army. The Horned King also knows of the pig’s powers to bring forth visions, and plans to use Hen Wen to locate the Black Cauldron. Dallben orders Taran to hide the pig at a secret cottage in the forbidden forrest, and warns that the Horned King is a threat to all. In the woods, Hen Wen runs away, and is captured by the king’s dragons. When Taran journeys to the castle to rescue the pig, he is caught by the Horned King. The boy and Hen Wen are forced to conjure visions, but flee as the king’s henchmen give chase. Although Taran is captured and imprisoned, he throws the pig to safety into the castle moat. In captivity, Taran is visited by a young girl named Princess Eilonwy, who reveals that she is also a prisoner because the king believes her magic orb will reveal the Black Cauldron’s whereabouts. Eilonwy leads Taran through the castle’s secret passageways as they try to escape. The two stumble upon the burial chamber of the previous king, where Taran uncovers a sword. When Eilonwy and Taran are chased by guards, Taran uses the sword for protection, and it magically destroys a henchman’s axe. Taran leads Eilonwy through the castle, with newfound confidence. Battling their attackers along the way, they escape, along with fellow captive, Fflewddur. Safely in the woods, the three are joined by a friendly creature named Gurgi, who offers to help them find Hen Wen. The friends fall into a whirlpool, and awaken in a fairyland, where they meet the affable fairies and find Hen Wen. The ruler of the fairies, King Eidilleg, reveals the whereabouts of the black cauldron and Taran plans to destroy the vessel before the Horned King can claim it. Leaving Hen Wen behind, Taran, Eilonwy, Ffewddur, and Gurgi are escorted by a fairy named Doli to the Marshes of Morva. Once there, they are met by three sister witches who agree to trade the Black Cauldron for Taran’s sword. The witches explain that while the cauldron can never be destroyed, its powers will be destroyed if someone climbs inside the chalice. However, that person can never return alive from inside the cauldron. Taran regrets trading his sword but Eilonwy expresses her confidence in him. They are soon captured by the king’s henchmen, but Gurgi escapes. In the castle, the Horned King shows his captors his master plan, then places a skeleton into the cauldron to awaken the evil army. Later, Gurgi sneaks into the castle and frees his friends. Despite their protests, Taran makes his way to the Black Cauldron and prepares to climb inside, but Gurgi jumps in before him. As the dark army begins to dissipate, the Horned King returns to the cauldron to insert another skeleton, but the vessel’s dark spell is broken, and the king is destroyed. As the castle crumbles, Taran and his friends escape by boat, and the Black Cauldron later surfaces in the open water. When the witches return to reclaim the cauldron, Fflewddur demands they negotiate a trade. Instead of asking for the sword, Taran requests his fallen friend, Gurgi, and the witches return the deceased creature. To their surprise, the furry critter springs to life. As the friends cheer, Gurgi tricks Taran and Eilonwy into kissing each other. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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