Screencap from Cinderella's Blu-ray trailer, February 15, 2018 - Movieclips Coming Soon/Youtube
CAIRO – 15 February 2018: Disney's "Cinderella", its 12th animated feature, premiered in Boston on February 15, 1950. A beloved animated classic, "Cinderella" proved to be something personally important to Walt Disney himself; it did single-handily save his studio from bankruptcy.
World War II did Disney no favors. Animated features such as "Pinocchio", "Fantasia" and "Bambi" fared poorly at the box office, and the loss of the European market spelt bad news. Postwar, Disney was left in $4 million of debt, which the studio struggled to make even on through live-action films and short melodies. The production of another feature-length animated movie was a massive risk, but it was one that Disney just had to take.
"Cinderella" was a story Disney had his eyes on adapting for several years, and looking to his past success in "Snow White", he felt that "Cinderella" was potentially similar enough to grant him another hit. The film needed to be produced on a tight budget and schedule, with Disney not being able to afford remakes or wasted animation.
"Cinderella" would thus be first shown entirely in live action, with the animators using this footage for reference during their work. This allowed for "Cinderella" to maintain a high level of convincing realism.
Much like Cinderella, Disney was risking everything on this project; if it flopped, the entire studio was going down with it. But this time, Disney had a greater sense of confidence; if he had succeeded once, he could do it again.
The story of Cinderella as we know it dates back to the 17th century, derived from a popular European folk tale of a woman in rags who ascends to riches through magic and a handsome prince charming. In particular, Disney based his version of the tale on the French writer Charles Perrault's "Cendrillon", which featured the fairy godmother, glass slippers and magic pumpkins that Disney would bring to life in his feature.
As a personal touch, and perhaps serving as a symbolic reflection of the postwar times, Disney added a greater focus on fashion in the time; the sequence in which Cinderella's rags are magically transformed into a gorgeous ball-gown is considered to be Disney's favorite sequence in all his films, and can be seen as a shift from the ruins of the war into the richness of the future.
Production of the film began in 1948 on a budget of $2 million, but thankfully for Disney the movie proved to be a massive success, the biggest since "Snow White". It was also one of the highest grossing films of 1950, proving that Disney hadn't lost its magic. As part of its recent trend of readapting its classics, "Cinderella" would be remade into a live-action film, released in 2015, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham-Carter.