Wednesday, May 26, 2010

April 29, 1987

Here is an article featured in the New York Times for Snow White's Golden Anniversary:

April 29, 1987


HOLLYWOOD, April 28— The Snow White Task Force met in the briefing room at Walt Disney Studios a couple of months ago. In a movie equivalent of an election-year campaign, the 16 Disney executives were planning the proclamations, parades, public appearances, television specials, toy dwarfs and soft-drink tie-ins that will culminate on July 17 with the re-release of ''Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'' in nearly 4,000 theaters around the world.
In 1937, Walt Disney's first feature-length cartoon saved his studio from bankruptcy. Reissued at intervals during the next 50 years, ''Snow White'' has earned $41 million in film rentals for the studio. When the movie is put back on the shelf next September, its total revenues should easily place it among the 40 highest grossing films of all time.
Although Hollywood today is mostly concerned with maximizing profits, and Disney's ''Year of Snow White'' is no exception, there is some genuine emotion beneath all the promotion. The new team of tough Hollywood professionals who took over Disney in 1984 wants to protect more than the dollar value of assets.
''I love rags-to-riches stories,'' said Michael Eisner, Disney's chairman. ''The company was really in financial jeopardy in 1937. 'Snow White' saved the studio. She deserves to have us celebrate her 50th birthday.'' Culling the Gimmicks
With less than three months to go until the 50-year-old star reappears on movie screens in 60 countries, a number of the February plans have been discarded, usually because they cost too much or were considered tacky by someone. There will be no Little League tie-in, no honorary Oscar, no souvenir program. And there will be no famous whistlers from Lauren Bacall to Whistler's Mother making a music video of ''Whistle While You Work.''
However, Linda Ronstadt will sing ''Someday My Prince Will Come'' on a one-hour NBC special on May 18 and a Snow White rose has been created, with 100 bushes on their way to mayors in 40 major cities. In the same 40 cities, Snow White and Dopey will visit children in hospitals.
Snow White has already made appearances at the New York Stock Exchange, the Smithsonian Institution, a benefit for the March of Dimes and the annual luncheon of the movie industry's Publicists Guild. She has participated in the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn and reigned as grand marshall in Washington's cherry blossom parade. In June, she will get her own star on a Hollywood sidewalk stuffed with the names of human movie stars.
One of the new buzz words in Hollywood is ''synergy,'' defined by Webster as ''cooperative action.'' Because of its theme parks, cable television channel, weekly program on ABC, and long history of merchandising its characters, Disney is unusually well equipped to cross-promote a product. A Promotional Blizzard
There will be Snow White parades at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida. Hamburgers and sodas will be served on Snow White paper plates and in Snow White cups. The theme parks rotate dozens of full-size Disney characters who hug and have their pictures taken with customers. From now until September, Snow White and her seven dwarfs will be out as often as possible. And they will be at the front gates to greet people, an honor usually reserved for Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Disney has also begun a nationwide search for the more than 90 women who have played Snow White at the theme parks during the last 30 years. A reunion will be held at Disneyland in May. Altogether, four to six young women will be impersonating the character in the promotional events this spring and summer.
The heart of the studio's campaign is a ''Commemorative Passport,'' which Disney will start advertising May 11. The passport will cost $10. In addition to a ticket to the movie good at any theater, the passport will include a commemorative bronze coin, a $5 discount on a childrens' admission to Disneyland or Disney World, a $10 discount on a new subscription to the Disney Channel and an offer for a toy dwarf at Sears. Over one million brochures advertising the movie and the passport will be passed out by the parks and by Disney's travel company and hotels.
According to Jon Winder, who headed the task force until a few weeks ago, the major push has been delayed until May to allow breathing room to ''The Aristocats,'' the animated cartoon Disney re-released at Easter. Merchandise for Adults, Too
When ''Snow White'' was released in 1937, according to David Smith, Disney's archivist, ''it was, even then, one of the biggest merchandising efforts ever for a movie.'' He displays a 1937 tea set, paper dolls, a wind-up Dopey toy, Sleepy holding an egg timer, a board game, a bubble pipe, a sand pail.
The merchandise this year will include bathing suits for teen-agers, silver candleholders, car sun screens and a $1,000 gold proof set of seven or eight coins. ''We're promoting merchandise to adults as well as little girls,'' said Jon Lang, director of film licensing. ''There will be more merchandise for this movie than any other, including 'Star Wars.' ''
The merchandise will include 18 to 20 books, ranging from 99-cent coloring books to a $300 leatherbound collectors edition of the film. One of every five children's books sold in America is a Disney book, according to Mr. Lang. ''If we published what we licensed, we'd be the largest children's book publisher,'' he said. ''We're so far ahead, there's no race.''
In the more sophisticated cross-fertilization available in 1987, the movie industry also shares the cost with ''corporate partners.'' General Foods will sponsor Snow White's hospital tour. Lipton will be involved with the 50-year-old star, as will Sears and a major, as yet unidentified fast-food chain, in all probability McDonald's.
Can there ever be too many place mats, crayons, ice shows, commemorative glasses?
''At some point there's a backlash,'' said Matt Mazer, a director of national promotions for Disney. ''And Disney characters can't endorse products. They don't hold or eat products.''
Mr. Winder said, ''And we only want quality merchandise that doesn't fall apart.''

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