Emery Hawkins, who worked for every single cartoon studio that existed in Hollywood between the 30s and the 50s. It is not exactly known what he animated on Thief (many animation buffs guess he drew the ogre-prince who isn't in the Recobbled Cut).
Box Office Bomb: The original version that was cobbled together from Richard's work and Miramax Films's meddling couldn't even reach a million dollars in sales. The movie cost $28,000,000 to produce.
Creator Backlash: The amount of meddling the film received just before it was completed devastated Richard Williams so much, that for years he absolutely refused to talk about the film to anyone, and refused to take part in the Recobbled Cut restorations of the film, since he just wanted to move on from it at that timenote During a tour for his famed lecture series, he hired security guards to personally exhume anyone who dared ask him about it.. However, he said writing The Animator's Survival Kit allowed him to make peace with the film's troubled history (the book itself avoids directly mentioning the film, but makes two subtle allusions to it, even reusing a scene of animation from it), and on Dec. 10th 2013, he theatrically screened his own directors cut of Thief, saying he was finally satisfied with the film.
Creator Killer: It was only a little while before the release of The Animator's Survival Kit when Williams began working again.
Seeing as a better part of his career was intended to fund this film, one might argue that whether or not he saw it through to the end, with nothing to work towards, he'd have left the animation business anyway.
Deleted Scene: Taken to ridiculous lengths. When Fred Calvert took over, about half of Williams' painstakingly made animation was deleted. A small amount of these were fortunately displayed during the end credits of Calvert's version. Then Miramax bought the film and axed even more scenes, including the end credit ones.
Development Hell: The longest and, arguably, most difficult example in cinematic history. Richard Williams spent about three decades on this film, using money earned from various short films and advertisements. At one point a Saudi-Arabian prince became interested and funded ten minutes (the war machine scene) as a test. The results were awesome. Sadly, the prince was scared away by missed deadlines and budget overruns. The project returned to its slow pace, until Williams gained funding from Warner Bros. after his success on Who Framed Roger Rabbit under the agreement that the film be completed for a specific date and amount of money. About half of the completed scenes were made during this period. Unfortunately, Williams' perfectionism caused him to miss the deadline and, fifteen minutes shy of completion, was fired by the completion bond company and replaced with low-budget animator Fred Calvert, resulting in a great amount of Off Model animation and Disneyfication.
Doing It for the Art: Oh yeah. You don't spend decades on a run-on-the-mill film: Williams fully intended this to be his masterpiece and a blockbuster.
Which makes it all the more devastating and soul-destroying to see the end executive meddling theatrical result. Needless to say, Williams does not ever talk about his magnum opus to anyone ever again. And we honestly can't blame him. Anyone who does five minutes of research on this life-long project will feel his pain and sympathize.
Dueling Movies: With Disney's Aladdinnote This film had a considerably shorter timetable to completion even with a Reset Button forced on it by Jeffrey Katzenberg 18 months before release, and them managed to reach video as a Walt Disney Classics title at about the time The Thief and the Cobbler's Miramax cut hit theaters. Considering that this movie had been in production approximately 24 years before Aladdin had been conceived, not to mention many themes and ideas borrowed from Williams's film, this has not been without controversy.
Executive Meddling: A double victim. First, Williams had the film taken away from him and finished under lesser hands. Then the Weinsteins got their hands on it and almost Macekred it to death.
There are sequences in the original film which took the better part of a decade to animate, and which the studios nonchalantly cut out.
Harpo Does Something Funny: Williams didn't use storyboards, and instead encouraged his animators to invent stuff themselves. He did have a script, which he only followed very loosely. Ken Harris, the main animator of the thief, was so fast in animating that Williams constantly made up very rough ideas and situations for the character in order to keep him working. Williams finally created storyboards for the whole film in 1992, when he was forced to make a workprint.
This ultimately may have been the film's downfall, as the lack of planning lead to Williams being unable to complete it on time and having it turned over to the completion company.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Fans of this film have done this to VHS copies of the original workprint for years. The workprint was made by Williams just before he lost rights, and was the only way to see the true version of the film. Now you can just download the Recobbled Cut, or watch it on YouTube.
Lost Forever: When asked about it, Richard said that Thief would be impossible to finish today; while he could have the actual remaining animation done in a year, all of the original artwork and film materials for the film are scattered and lost, and it would be unfeasable to track all of it down. And even if that weren't a problem, legal issues involving the film elements would keep a finished version of it from being released anyway. In other words, Thief will always remain "unfinished", and Willaims says he's satisfied with the work print edit as it is, and has moved on to making other personal projects.
Missing Episode: The rights were bought out by The Completion Bond Company with 15 mins. of the film incomplete after Williams' bond-holder demanded a halt to production. Disney had a competing production, Aladdin in the works, so the remains of the film were farmed out to a third-rate overseas studio and released in a handful of theaters note Bonus points for Aladdin finishing production before Thief, running in theaters to the tune of $200 million, and then moving on to the Walt Disney Classics VHS/Laserdisc series by the time Thief was "finished" (Aladdin was already in the Disney Vault by the time Thief made it into American cinemas).
The Other Darrin: Tack is voiced by Steve Lively in the Majestic Films cut, and Matthew Broderick in the Miramax one (but only for speaking).
The Other Marty: Almost all of the original voice cast carefully selected by Williams were replaced once Fred Calvert took over. Most of the scenes had already been animated to the old voices, but were redubbed anyway. A little bit of Anthony Quayle survived in the finished versions, notably in the scene where he gives a speech to his subjects; some of Joan Sims as the Witch also remains. Some notable actors who thankfully weren't dubbed over include Vincent Price as Zigzag and Windsor Davies as Chief Roofless.
Early on, in the sixties, the film was supposed to be about Mullah Nasruddin. The idea had to be dropped because of disagreements of the rights to the character. Many of the supporting characters were taken from the Nasruddin film.
At some point princess Yumyum had an identical sister, princess Meemee, who had fallen in love with a man who had been turned into an ogre. The witch's original purpose was to provide a cure for his beastliness.
Working Title: Before becoming The Thief And The Cobbler, the film had such titles as "The Thief Who Never Gave up", "Once...", simply "The Thief", or the wildly different and creative "The Cobbler And The Thief". The film was released after Executive Meddling under two names, "The Princess And The Cobbler" and the punny "Arabian Knight", before being released on VHS by Disney/Miramax as "The Thief And The Cobbler".
Not to mention the early period when it was about Mulla Nasruddin, and has names such as "Nasruddin!", "The Majestic Fool" or "The Amazing Nasruddin".