Monday, February 8, 2016

Today's Rarity: 'Rescuers Down Under' Intermission

As many Disney fans know, when moviegoers saw The Rescuers Down Under in theaters during the holiday season of 1990, the sequel to the studio's 1977 classic came with quite the bonus...

That bonus was a featurette, a nearly half hour-long retelling of The Prince and the Pauper with the Mickey Mouse gang as the characters, not dissimilar to 1983's Mickey's Christmas Carol and how Mickey is Bob Cratchit, Scrooge McDuck is Ebenzer Scrooge, Goofy is the Ghost of Christmas Past, and so on. Coincidentally, that short was attached to the original Rescuers when it was theatrically re-released in 1983.

The roughly 20-minute film and the 77-minute Rescuers Down Under made for quite the double-bill, but between both films was a 10-minute intermission. This intermission was only seen by people who saw The Rescuers Down Under in cinemas, and was never preserved on home media as a bonus feature or anything else. Given that both of these films came out in 1990, it was uncommon back then for Disney to release feature films on video with short films playing before them. The Prince and the Pauper was released on its own in 1991 as a Mini-Classic edition, The Rescuers Down Under would be a Classics edition proper.

Now imagine if Disney had done the opposite. After the Classics logo faded out, you get this short first, then the main attraction!

Nowadays, attaching a nearly half-hour featurette to a movie of any kind is unthinkable. Back in 1990, it was still acceptable, and this would be the last time Disney would do such a thing. Perhaps the poor box office performance of The Rescuers Down Under was a reason why Disney wouldn't attach a featurette to a film again, let alone make one. The next couple of shorts from the studio, such as Off His Rockers, Trail Mix-Up, and Runaway Brain, would be the typical length.

Thanks to YouTuber HbVideos, you can now watch the original intermission that played before The Rescuers Down Under. It comes from a Super 8mm reel that he has. He has also uploaded the complete featurette film as well...

It's a fun little piece, with some good humor sprinkled in. I really wish Disney preserved it, as a bonus feature, but Disney often brushes over little ins and outs like this. Still, I can only imagine what it was like to go and see the newest Disney animated feature in theaters but with a featurette before it!

On a slightly related note...

Over 6 years ago, Disney and Pixar re-released Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D to gear audiences up for Toy Story 3. It was a double-bill, too! The original plan was to re-release them separately, but of course plans always change at the mouse. I saw this very re-issue of the two films with a good friend of mine, and inbetween both movies was a ten-minute intermission. This intermission was sprinkled with fun facts about the film's production (aka stuff I already knew), the Toy Story "treats" that aired on ABC at the time of the film's release, and various other things.

It makes me kind of wish that we can see half hour animated short subjects in theaters again, but that's kind of a pipe dream!

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