|Taran comes to the aid of the|
sweet enchantress Eilonwy.
"It's bad. Fix it."
Roy E. Disney, Walt's nephew and then head of animation, admitted he didn't understand what the story was about. Even the company's own animators were split over it. Some saw the dark and violent (it was the first Disney animated film to earn a PG rating) sword and sorcery epic as the perfect vehicle to give Disney back its long lost edge in animation. Others felt it was a poor project choice that didn't mesh with the Disney brand.
The doubters were right. After its summer 1985 release, The Black Cauldron grossed a mere $22 million at the box office, significantly less than what it cost to make. Adding insult to injury, it was out-earned that year by the non-Disney The Care Bears Movie. Even Disney's re-release of 101 Dalmatians at Christmas did better than The Black Cauldron, selling $33 million in tickets.
Despite its failings, the movie had a noble pedigree. It was based on the popular Newberry Award-winning series of books, The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. In the film, a young pig keeper named Taran must protect his prized pig, Hen Wen, from the evil clutches of the Horned King. Hen Wen has clairvoyant powers that the King needs to help locate the mystical Black Cauldron, which can be used to raise an invincible army of the undead. Needless to say, Horned King + Undead Army = Bad. When Hen Wen is captured, it's up to Taran and a ragtag group of friends to rescue her, defeat the Horned King and destroy the cauldron.
|Taran and Gurgi|
The Black Cauldron was meant to resurrect Disney animation. Instead, it almost brought it crashing down.