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Don Bluth

Beauty and the Beast that Never Was…

Who knew that Secret of NIMH director Don Bluth and his crew had their own version of Beauty and the Beast in the works? Well they did, back in the day, and we stumbled across some pictures from the project. According to animation historian John Cawley (from Get Animated), “Early in 1984, Don began in earnest turning the famous tale into an animated feature. He even announced it in the Fall of 1990 in his Animation Club newsletter. At the time, he described it as ‘a tender love story that says, ‘a thing must be loved before it’s lovable.’ We sprinkled this classic tale with a generous amount of comedy, a little bit of terror, and a lot of love. From Nan, the clairvoyant dog, Max, a bird detective, and Otto, an escape artist lizard, to the King Bats, the Wee Beasties and Queen Livia, herself, this picture has something for everyone.’ An American Tail also interrupted this production. As work began on Land Before Time, Don felt that Beauty and the Beast would be his first independent picture. However in late 1986, the Disney Studio announced they were working on a version and by 1989 had begun full production (for a 1991 release). Knowing his version could not be completed before Disney’s, Don dropped the project.” The picture below and others were recently uncovered on Tumbler.

image c. 2011 Don Bluth Studios

NIMH Returns… with Mrs. Frisby

Yahoo Movies is reporting that Paramount Pictures is developing a feature version of the Newbery Medal-winning children’s book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. “Director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) is in talks to write the screenplay. The movie would be the second theatrical go-round for the book, which MGM brought to the screen in 1982 as the animated film The Secret of NIMH, directed by Don Bluth.

Robert C. O’Brien’s book has been a staple in children’s bookstores and libraries since it was first published in 1971. The story centers on a mouse — the titular Mrs. Frisby, renamed Mrs. Brisby in the MGM movie — faced with a crisis when her son falls ill and she must move her family to escape a farmer’s plow. Mrs. Frisby enlists a group of former lab rats, whom she soon discovers possess advanced technologies and run a highly evolved society, dividing labor in the manner of a human community.

The new NIMH will likely combine live action and animation in the manner of Alvin and the Chipmunks and other kiddie hybrids.” No word yet on cast members or a planned release date, but we’ll let you know as soon as we do!

R.I.P., Dom DeLuise

Dominick “Dom” DeLuise, a plus-sized and well-known comic actor, passed away at the age of 75 on Monday, May 4th. In addition to his many roles in comedy films — most famously associated with Mel Brooks and/or Burt Reynolds — he was also well known as a voice-actor in animated films.  Among his classic characters were Jeremy the Crow from Secret of NIMH, Tiger the Cat from An American Tail, Itchy from All Dogs Go To Heaven, and Fagin from Disney’s Oliver and Company, as well as various voices from the TV series that were spun off from those features and others.  Dom DeLuise: 1933 – 2009.

Don Bluth’s Animation Tutorials

Animator and director Don Bluth (Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time, Titan AE) has a new web site, It not only features background information on Don and his crew’s many film projects, but also Don’s latest passion: Teaching would-be animators the ropes of the business. Several tutorials are available on the site, matching up with a series of how-to books that Don has released over the past few years. That includes character design concepts, backgrounds, in-betweening, and more, as well as how to work with modern computer graphics assistance.