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Trivia / The Land Before Time

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Original film:

  • Accidentally Correct Writing: The ravenous herd of Diplodocus are depicted with mouths shaped like beaks. In those days it would have been deemed inaccurate, but recent studies have shown beaks are possible in sauropods after all.
  • Acting for Two: The film's narrator also performed the voice for Rooter. This may have been to underscore the fact that both characters were very wise and insightful.
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  • Author Existence Failure: Barely averted with Judith Barsi, the young actress who played Ducky in the original film (and she also played Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven), who had her voicework for both films completed before she was murdered along with her mother by her father before either film could be released.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: John Crawley's book "The Animated Films of Don Bluth" refers to Ducky as a platypus in the section on this film.
  • Creator Backlash: While he by no means dislikes the film, Don Bluth credits it with kickstarting his weaker output, as it was his first major exposure to Executive Meddling.
  • Creator's Favorite: Ducky was Judith Barsi's favorite of her own film roles.
  • Crossdressing Voices: In the German dub, Ducky is voiced by a boy (Tobias Thoma, who voiced Fievel in the dub of An American Tail).
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  • Dueling Movies: With Oliver & Company. Just like Bluth's previous film, this one won, and became the highest grossing animated movie of all time... until 1989 that is. note 
  • Executive Meddling: The film was originally Darker and Edgier, but many scenes were deleted because they were "too scary for kids". This explains the film's very short running time. It should be noted that for many older viewers, it would have simply made the film better, which is why fans have tried desperately to track down these scenes.
  • Fan Nickname: To avoid confusion between this character and sharpteeth as a whole, fans often refer to the film's antagonist as 'The Original Sharptooth' or simply 'The Sharptooth'.
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  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Again, eleven full minutes of completed animation was cut at the last minute after it was deemed too intense for younger audiences. Some have claimed that bits and pieces of this footage made it into broadcast versions and theatrical trailers. Don Bluth himself claims to have a personal copy of the film reel with the whole thing, though no word on whether or not it will ever see the light of day.
  • The Merch: Needless to say, this is part of how the movie made as much money as it did, as Bluth & co.'s designs for our heroes were highly marketable. Merch of particular note, though, were the puppet toys that Pizza Hut offered for a dollar alongside a pizza order in their sit-down restaurants. (Yes, Pizza Hut used to do things like movie tie-in toys.) These were tremendously popular and were both a major boost for Pizza Hut and helped boost sales of the film; they were so popular that, when the movie came to home video in '89, the toys came back (for a home video promotion) and two more puppets even got added to the line, those being Petrie and Sharptooth.
  • Missing Episode: The eleven minutes of cut footage that are either languishing in a vault somewhere or have been destroyed.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: The original film trailer has a deleted bit from the final scene with Littlefoot saying "now we'll always be together!". This one sticks out to a lot of kids of The '80s, because this clip was also heavily used by Pizza Hut in their cross-promotional commercials for their Land Before Time toys, and these commercials were omnipresent in children's programming in 1988. It's to the point that a lot of people who haven't seen the film in ages may well "remember" that line being in the film.
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends: Reportedly the full, uncut version with the Deleted Scenes intact aired in several other markets around the world, but no actual cuts of this have been located.
  • Release Date Change: Originally planned for release in fall, 1987. Production was delayed by a year due to the relocation of Sullivan Bluth Studios to Dublin, Ireland.
  • Science Marches On: Recent evidence suggests that, contrary to what the movie claims, T-rexes were strong swimmers. Of course, it would be hard to swim with a boulder on your chest.
  • Troubled Production: It's a wonder Land Before Time not only exists but is a wonderful children's film, considering the development was an utter mess. With so many consultants, writers and directors working on-board, Executive Meddling was inevitable. Upon closer analysis and the weird pacing/transitioning of scenes you appreciate the film's story was trying to pull in three directions. One, the Great Valley being the dinosaur's version of Heaven, which Don Bluth vehemently opposed as it would undermine his next upcoming work, not to mention Steven Spielberg and George Lucas' concerns the original scriptwriters plot would traumatize children. Even so, the finished product after losing over one million dollars in footage still maintains much of the symbolism still debated today. Two, Don's original vision that Littlefoot's herd would encounter various inequalities and racism from other dinosaurs along their travels. And finally three, the theatrical "Old Rooter" cut. Ultimately the version we got resulted in several fully animated scenes being cut and sadly not archived, but lost forever before the film's release.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • A total of eleven minutes of footage was cut due to Executive Meddling, though Don admitted removing the more horrific scenes contributed to the film's success. Additionally, the film's second half was not as Don originally intended. In the original version, Littlefoot finds the Great Valley after he goes off alone and the others go with Cera. He realizes that he has to go find the others because they won't find it on their own, and goes back after them, finding them in the volcano. The Sharptooth scene then happens and he leads them to the valley. This can be detected in the final film. In the scene where Littlefoot is telling his mother he'll never find the Great Valley because it's too hard, the rock they pushed onto Sharptooth is still there in the foreground; and the scene where he looks over the Great Valley shows him standing alone and is closely followed by a shot of Littlefoot and the others sliding to a stop with Petrie perched on his head.
    • There is also a deleted scene where the group finds an oasis, but the two groups of dinosaurs who are already there (gray-noses and crown-headsnote ) get discriminatory and say that only Ducky can drink. Unlike some of the other removed scenes, this one was never animated, although it does appear in the May 1987 script, as well as in a couple of children's books released alongside the film, "Friends in Need" and "The Land Before Time: The Illustrated Story".
    • The scene where Sharptooth lands on the back of Littlefoot's mother was originally fully visible, but it was changed to shadow. The scene where Sharptooth is pushed under by the big rock had a scene where Sharptooth was seen looking up to the water, but it was also deemed too scary.
    • Old Rooter didn't appear in the original script, but was added to soften the blow of the death of Littlefoot's mother. He does appear in the later May 1987 script, however, before most of the other cuts took place.
    • Littlefoot was originally named "Thunderfoot" until it was discovered that an earlier, unrelated children's book had used that name for a triceratops. Speaking of which, Cera was originally named "Bambo" and was male until George Lucas suggested they make her a girl.
    • Steven Spielberg and George Lucas originally wanted the film to have no dialog, like the Rite of Spring sequence in Fantasia. But to make the film appealing to children, they abandoned this idea, and got actors and actresses to do the voices.
  • Working Title: The Land Before Time Began.

Sequels:

  • Author Existence Failure: Between XIII and XIV (2007 to 2016), Kenneth Mars (Grandpa Longneck) died of pancreatic cancer in April 2011, and John Ingle (Daddy Topps) died of lung cancer in September 2012. They were replaced by Barry Bostwick and George Ball, respectively.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor: Plenty
  • Creator Backlash: While he had no involvement with them, Don Bluth dismissed the sequels offhand as "Cookie cutter thing(s)" in an interview. In another interview, he said;
    "—with Land Before Time, of course it did make money—it made a lot of money. And so all the sequels, they just said, "Let's create a franchise here, let's create something that goes on and on and on." And each one of them have made money, because basically the children who watch it just see the little characters they love and so they're not discerning about whether it looks great or it's a great story or anything."
  • Franchise Zombie: There was a new one nearly every year until Universal shut down their animation department, and another one in 2016. There are 14 of the cussed things. Bluth only worked on the first film and was ablivalent to the rest of them.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Definitely why Universal Animation kept churning these things out; you could argue it's what gave them the budget for better projects, like Earthworm Jim and The New Woody Woodpecker Show (Exosquad doesn't count, as it A: began airing in 1993, before the first sequel came out, and B: had a toyline to back it up).
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Petrie was voiced by Will Ryan in I. He was replaced by Jeff Bennett for the rest of the franchise.
    • Littlefoot's voice kept changing at certain points in the franchise: from movies I-II, IV-V, and from movies IX-XIV. Thomas Dekker kept the role the longest (singing in V, full-time from VI-IX).
    • Candace Huttson kept her role as Cera from the original movie, up until movie IV. Past that point, Anndi McAfee took the role.
    • Following Judith Barsi's tragic death, Heather Hogan took the role of Ducky for the first four sequels. After IV was completed, Hogan stepped down and was replaced by Aria Curzon, who kept the role of Ducky from that point onwards.
    • Also in movie XIV, oddly enough, the moms of Petrie and Ducky had the aforementioned Anndi McAffee and Meghan Strange note  respectively fill in for Tress MacNeille.
  • Production Nickname:
    • "Loveable" Littlefoot
    • "Sweet but Strong-Willed" Cera
    • "Devoted" Ducky
    • "Panicky" Petrie
    • "Gentle Giant" Spike
    • "Eager" Chomper
    • "Responsible" Ruby
  • Science Marches On: Averted. Loofa and Doofa don't bear even a remote resemblance to what Beipeiaosaurus actually looked like.
    • Technically speaking, the Yellow Bellies resemble generic therizinosaurs. Very, very cartooninised therizinosaurs. When they were concepted, there wasn't a lot of Beipiaosaurus material to go by, so their appearance wasn't so offensively backwards.
  • Sequel Gap: Given how infamous the franchise became for its numerous sequels, it's pretty easy to forget that the time between the original film (1988) and the second one, The Great Valley Adventure (1994), was actually fairly long, at six years.
    • Then after the thirteenth film, The Wisdom of Friends (2007), it would be nine years before the fourteenth film, Journey of the Brave (2016), would be released.
  • Talking to Himself: Not only did John Ingle provide the voice of Cera's father in the sequels and the TV series, he was also the narrator for the sequels as well.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The end of the fourth movie seemed to imply that there were plans in place for Ali to return much sooner, possibly as early as the very next movie. This never came to pass however, possibly due to a change in directors.
    • Early ads for Journey Through the Mists identified it as the third film. It later switched positions with The Time of the Great Giving before release.
  • Working Title: The fourteenth film was originally titled Journey of the Heart. However when the trailer debuted, it had been renamed to Journey of the Brave.

TV Series:

  • Science Marches On: Ruby's design includes feathers.
  • Screwed by the Network: First, Cartoon Network, the channel that aired it, showed the series as part of a an early-morning preschool block featuring fare such as The Mr. Men Show, Krypto the Superdog and Baby Looney Tunes. Second, the show aired at 9:00AM, a time when many kids would be at school. Third, the show only lasted a month before being dropped in favor of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
  • Short Run in Peru: The series technically originated in America, but Canada showed it first starting in January of 2007, showing each new episode at a steady pace. The United States, on the other hand, aired all of their initial batch of episodes in March of that year (starting the week after the twelfth movie came out, presumably to avoid confusion regarding where characters originating in that movie came from), even airing some of the episodes before they aired in Canada. However, even as Canada continued showing new episodes, the United States didn't air any of the episodes produced after "The Bright Circle Celebration" until nearly six months later, when they aired "The Lonely Journey" and "The Missing Fast-Water Adventure" (both of which, in Canada, had premiered in April); it took until January of 2008 for all of the remaining episodes to finally see the light of day in the United States.
  • Unfinished Episode: When the show was still airing new episodes, there were two rumored episode titles, "The Sky-Fire Promise" and "The Longneck and the Cobbler", circulating around the internet. Assuming that either or both of these episodes actually existed at some point, no record of them has been found. note  However, it has been theorized that "The Sky-Fire Promise" was the Working Title for "Return to Hanging Rock"; it hasn't been officially confirmed, though.

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