As originally planned, Home On The Range was supposed to be the end of an era at Disney. No, it was not the push to stop hiring washed-up comediennes to voice characters (though that might help)… rather, this was the film that Michael Eisner said would be the last traditionally (hand) animated film from Disney.
Blame It On Eisner
Eisner could be rather short-sighted, especially in his later years at Disney. This was a major case in point. Eisner looked across the street (well, over the Hollywood Hills) to DreamWorks Animation, and saw them making buckets of money. I mean BUCKETS- Shrek made almost half a billion dollars in its 2001 release. What made this an even bigger insult to Disney and Eisner was that it was his old buddy Jeffrey Katzenberg making all that cash. And he was doing this all in new flashy technology with computers. And right behind Eisners’ back, Pixar was also humiliating Disney… Monsters, Inc. brought in over a half billion dollars. Eisner and Disney were pulling in between 100 and 200 million per film.
So Eisner decided that it had to be computer animation that would make the difference. That one thing was all Disney was missing to take its rightful place at the top of the animation box office. Never mind that Disney’s stories were old and its formula films were tired…. computer animation would save the Mouse!
And lo it came down from on high that Home On The Range was to be the last 2D animated film from Disney./ Henceforth, all films would be computer generated AND 3D. And to further drive home his point that he was the savior of the studio, Eisner released the film on a highly unusual and ill-timed date to prove his contention that traditionally animated films were no longer viable. (HotR was released in April; for years, Disney films were release in June/July or November.) For whatever reason, U.S. box office receipts were less than half of the estimated $110 million production costs of the film.
Home On The Range Marked The End of Hand-drawn Animation at Disney
Disney laid off most of its animation department and sold all their animation desks. The animation departments in Orlando and Paris were closed down. Disney became a shell of its former self. Was it the right decision? You be the judge. Click “Next Film” to see what 3D CGI animated film Eisner released next to save Disney!