In “The Story Behind…” series I take a look at the history of anything related to movies. One of them are the logos of the various studios, this time that of Walt Disney Pictures.
The man who lent his name to the company was a big fan of drawing as he grew up. He shortly worked at The Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio where he met Ubbe Iwerks and after their contract with the studio expired they decided to start their own company. It was called “Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists” in 1920. Since they couldn’t manage to run it succesfully Disney started working at the Kansas City Film Ad Company and was joined by Iwerks. He started experimenting with animation and made Laugh-o-grams. These were so succesfull that Disney was able to start a new company called “Laugh O Gram Studio”. Unfortunately this company went bankrupt and Disney decided to move to Hollywood in 1923 together with his brother Roy.
They started “Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio” and they succesfully sold a live action/cartoon named “Alice’s Wonderland”, which became very succesfull and more episodes were made. After the popularity dropped Disney developed the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons together with Iwerks who created the character. Unfortunately for Disney it was Universal Studios who owned the rights to the character and after most of his animators were hired away (except Iwerks) he had to come up with a new character, which was Mickey Mouse. The instant success of this first cartoon with synchronised sound meant he was able to create other shorts, which became the Silly Symphonies. His cartoons were distributed by various big studios including Columbia Pictures and United Artists. In 1934 he started production for the first feature length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which was released in 1937.
The text “Walt Disney presents” would appear, which later was changed into Walt Disney Pictures. The movie studio didn’t use a logo in its first 48 years.
This is the first appearance of the Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella castle which is iconic for the Disney themeparks. From top the bottom a white light slowly formed the castle after which the words “Walt Disney Pictures” would appear after which a line is drawn behind the castle.
Starting in 2000 live action movies from Disney featured a slight variation of the logo. It had a golden glow, but besides that is similar to the blue version.
When Disney struck a deal with Pixar an animated 3D version of the previous logo was made by Pixar. The camera zooms out of the castle while the flags are moving, “Walt Disney Pictures” is shown after which the star which draws the line behind the castle casts a shadow onto the castle.
This is also a CGI animation which starts in the clouds and slowly moves backward to reveal fireworks and the castle after which the same line appears as in the previous logo’s after which “Walt Disney Pictures” is shown.