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Trivia / Sleeping Beauty

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  • Acclaimed Flop: Technically a flop and a success at the same time, in that while it was second only to Ben-Hur in box office success that year ($5.3 million), it still wasn't enough to recoup the obscenely high production costs ($6 million - nearly $53m in 2019 dollars - something which Fantasia had also fallen victim to) due to it being filmed in 70mm. This along with several other factors in Walt's studio that year resulted in the company winding up over $1 million in the red, which led to layoffs.
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  • Acting for Two: Verna Felton voices both Flora and Aurora's mother.
  • Box Office Bomb: While the film did relatively moderate at the box office, making about $5.3 million during its initial run, it failed to make back its then-expensive $6 million budget.
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  • Development Gag: The artists really couldn't decide what color to make Aurora's dress, which leads to the gag of Flora and Merryweather perpetually changing it back and forth between blue and pink.
  • Development Hell: Was in the works for almost all of the 1950s with production starting in 1951 and being released in 1959. In that time, it became a financial behemoth which didn't make its cost back despite being the second-highest grossing movie of the yearnote . Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland had visitors walking past a set of dioramas of scenes from the movie in 1957, and the movie was still two years off.
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  • Disowned Adaptation: Mary Costa has had no problem badmouthing the segment based on this movie on the Enchanted Tales DVD.
  • Fake Brit:
    • In a sense. Knoxville-born Mary Costa had a rather thick Southern accent when she was cast, and she describes Walt Disney asking her to do a British accent for Aurora. This is less of an issue now since Costa's accent faded after years of musical theatre.
    • Maleficent is widely assumed to be British due to her accent, but her voice actress, Elanor Audley, was an American.
  • Genre-Killer: The film's failure to earn back its exorbitant budget resulted in this twofold: it was not only the last animated film based on a fairy tale that Disney would make until The Little Mermaid in 1989, it also ended Disney's second run of lavish, expensive animated features that had been restarted with Cinderella in 1950; this inadvertently began The Dark Age of Animation, as Disney was the last studio in Hollywood who was willing to spend money on full animation.
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  • Genre Relaunch: The movie was an attempt from Disney to return to "experimental" films, where an astronomical budget was irrelevant to the film's technical innovations and lavish character animation and layout. As mentioned above, it was sadly not meant to be at the time, but this was accomplished in 1986 in a manner, when its home video debutnote  helped rebuild Disney then, which led to The Little Mermaid.
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  • Orphaned Reference: The three fairies' names are holdovers from when they were originally going to have powers based off what they were named after. There are still some references to this in their gifts to Aurora - Flora's gift sequence features a rose, Fauna's some animals. Likewise Flora's original plan to turn the princess into a flower, and her turning the arrows into flowers in the climax.
  • The Other Marty: Hans Conreid, who voiced Captain Hook and Mr. Darling in Peter Pan, recorded some dialogues as King Stefan. In the final cut, Conried was later replaced by Taylor Holmes for the voice role for Stefan, leading an unsolved mystery of Lord Duke’s voice actor.
  • Playing Against Type: Voice actress Verna Felton typically played mean old ladies such as the Alpha Bitch Matriarch elephant in Dumbo, Aunt Sarah in Lady and the Tramp , the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland and, later on, Fred's eternally nagging mother-in-law in The Flintstones. Here she plays one of the heroic Good Fairies, Flora. (Coincidentally, she played a good fairy in the other animated film Eleanor Audley was in, which was Cinderella.)
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  • Reality Subtext: Mary Costa claims she had a "schoolgirl crush" on Bill Shirley, who voiced Phillip.
  • The Red Stapler:
    • Many a Princess Classic in Western Animation have gowns that are inspired by Aurora's. Likewise, a good amount of princess costumes in stores are based on it. Also, along with the rest of the Disney Princesses, execs noted that children would be seen at the parks and ice shows attempting to dress in the gowns - so they created official dress-up gowns as merchandise.
    • Aurora as a baby name has been growing in popularity, with many fans of the movie naming daughters after the princess. Likewise, Merriweather (or alternate spellings such as "Meriwether") was traditionally a boys' name, but a few girls have been named that after the good fairy in this movie.
  • Referenced by...:
    • In the Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code, Sleeping Beauty is discussed as an allegory of the Holy Grail.
    • In the film Passengers, Jim wakens a woman named Aurora from stasis so he could have companionship.
  • Refitted for Sequel: The sequence of Maleficent capturing Philip and taunting him in the dungeon came from an idea they had for Snow White - where the Queen would have captured the prince and made skeletons dance for his amusement. The sequence was scrapped due to the animators not being confident drawing a realistic human male yet.
  • Star-Making Role: This helped launch Mary Costa's career as an opera singer. She would star in over forty-four operas as a result.
  • Trope Namer: For True Love's Kiss.
  • Troubled Production: While not as problematic as some of their other productions, but suffered from quite a few conflicts of egos behind the scenes, mostly stemming from lead background designer Eyvind Earle inserting himself into more and more aspects of production with Walt Disney's encouragement, in an attempt to produce a more stylized and modern-looking Disney animated feature. This caused the budget to balloon massively, and on release, it earned decent reviews but would prove to be the worst financial failure of any of the studio's animated canon until The Black Cauldron over a quarter-century later, resulting in the animation department being heavily downsized afterward.
  • Uncredited Role: The voices for the Queen and for Maleficent's goons weren't credited. The Queen, however, sounds very much like Verna Felton. On the other hand, the voice of Lord Duke has not been solved for a long time, probably due to Taylor Holmes replacing Hans Conried for the voice role for King Stefan. His voice kinda sounds like Hans Conried in a higher pitch.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The original storyline had Aurora grow up at the palace, like in the original fairy tale. She and Philip would have met after she sneaked out to a local fair, disguised as a servant girl. The concept of sneaking out in disguise was apparently recycled in Aladdin for Jasmine.
    • Diablo was originally a falcon who spoke with an anachronistic Brooklyn accent.
    • An early treatment has Aurora prick her finger not because Maleficent hypnotizes her, but rather because Maleficent convinces her that touching the spindle would grant her strongest wish (similar to how Snow White bit the poisoned apple after the Witch called it "a magic wishing apple").
    • The Three Good Fairies were originally meant to have powers associated with their names, but this was scrapped during production. Flora's idea of turning Aurora into a flower is a leftover from this part of development.
    • Walt Disney wanted the three fairies to be Single-Minded Triplets at first, but other animators convinced him to diversify their personalities. Additionally, early drafts of the film had seven fairies like the original tale.
    • The spinning wheel in this original draft was not only an Artifact of Doom created by Maleficent as a "birthday present", but it was indestructible. The spinning wheel is finally destroyed when Merryweather shoots Maleficent with a lightning bolt during the final battle with the spindle stabbing her heart, being indestructible only while she lived.
    • Eleanor Audley initially turned down the role of Maleficent, as she was battling tuberculosis at the time. Fortunately, she changed her mind, and Maleficent became her career-defining role.
    • The drunken argument between Kings Stefan and Hubert was going to take place at the beginning of the film. It would feature a song where they would compare portraits of their children, called "It Happens I Have A Picture". In this sequence, while Bill Thompson was finalized as Hubert, Hans Conreid read for Stefan until he was possibly switched into voicing Duke, in which they replaced Conried with Taylor Holmes for the voice role for Stefan.
    • The sequence with the cake would have the fairies cause the first attempt to crash through the roof. It was cut because Walt Disney felt it was one gag too many.
    • Mary Costa says that she was wanted for the singing voice of Aurora straight away, but Disney execs were concerned about her thick southern accent when she spoke naturally. Fortunately for her, she was able to tone it down to sound more princess-like.
    • At one point, Chuck Jones was attached to direct, having been fired from Warner Bros. when it appeared 3D was going to be the new thing in the industry. However, Jones soon tired of Disney's tyrannical nature and returned to Warner's animation house as soon as he heard it was back in business.


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