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Capturing the imaginations of children and grown-ups alike, animation is one of the most popular and enduring genres, drawing in cinema goers for over a century. Unlike other film styles, classic animation has the ability to remain enchanting and relevant to new crops of audiences, despite the extent to which tastes and technologies have evolved. Quite astonishingly household names like Bambi, Dumbo and The Jungle Book are still firm favourites despite their collective age of nearly 200 years. This phenonema is largely down to the talent and ingenuity of one man, and this Christmas we celebrate the work of animation’s leading light – Walt Disney – winner of 22 Academy Awards and a true pioneer of the field.
Through the prism of the poster world, gallery owner Bruce Marchant brings the Disney legacy to life.
A serious appreciation for animation
It might surprise you to hear that animation is one of the most popular areas of collecting; some of the highest prices ever paid have come from this genre. While many adults often buy for their children, there is a serious collectors market. Original Dumbo and Pinocchio fetch well into the thousands and the very early Mickey Mouse posters have sold for well in excess of £100,000. Animation has also attracted some famous followers, including, John Wayne’s son who was a big animation collector in the 1990s.
Rarity is not always synonymous with age
Remarkably Disney’s first ever feature length film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is about to turn eighty years old. By the time this title came out in 1937 Disney’s reputation was already firmly established, so the feature was confidently promoted and many posters were produced. This means that Snow White posters are not as rare as you might think, although mint condition versions are challenging to come by. Move on three years to 1940, and the original film poster for Fantasia is one of the rarest and most desirable Disneys on the market to source – despite being less popular than its early counterpart and only making a quarter of the box office revenue.
Disney and the dawn of Pixar
Towards to the latter part of the 20th century Disney continued to produce spellbinding feature film animations, though a new aesthetic was on the horizon in the form of Pixar and pioneering CGI animation. The appeal was instant, with the first ever computer animated feature film Toy Story becoming the highest grossing film of the year in 1995. Both styles of animation prove popular in poster terms, and due to the high print quantities of these 90s movies, there are more than enough to go around – with collectible value increasing slowly. There are exceptions to that rule though if you consider Toy Story teasers – which are promotional posters used ahead of the official release – these are already quite hard to find due to their lower print run.
A wider world of animation
Predating Disney, the first ever fully animated film was actually as early as 1906 by J. Stuart Blackton entitled Humorous Phases of Funny Faces. A few years later, our first animated celebrity was born with Felix the Cat, the lead feline of the silent era, who enjoyed immense popularity throughout the 20s. It was with the arrival of sound and the birth of Mickey Mouse that Felix’s appeal faded – he was not able to survive the transition to talkies.
TEASER: We are excited to disclose that the gallery will be unveiling an original 1920s Felix the Cat and highly important early thirties Mickey Mouse poster at the London Art Fair 2017.
Beyond Disney and the western market it is also important to shine a light on the exceptional animation produced by Japan. Studio Ghibli and their 2001 creation Spirited Away remains the most commercially successful Japanese film of all time. Their style of animation was truly ground-breaking and certainly worth collecting. My Neighbor Tortoro is another magical example of this studio’s genius.
Interior designing with Disney
Due to their unceasing popularity Disney posters are a wonderful present, and if you buy wisely they have the dual incentive of being a great gift as well as investment piece. A christening gift for example can be immediately enjoyed on the wall of a nursery, and when the receiver reaches 18 years the poster (if looked after properly – see our Care Guide) will have appreciated in value.
If you are looking for a good entry collectible, we suggest a lobby card on a classic title like The Jungle Book. Lobby cards are not only more affordable than larger pieces – they are space saving in a small child’s room or nursery.
For more Disney enjoyment…
We recommend ‘The Disney Poster Book: Featuring the Collection of Tony Anselmo’. Best known as the unmistakable voice of Donald Duck, Tony is the first ever person to animate and provide the voice of the same character. More than 100 posters are included in stunning large colour format.