Dumbed Down Disney Movie Titles

In 1986 the heads of Walt Disney animation changed the name of their latest film from
Basil of Baker Street to The Great Mouse Detective to make it more marketable.
Angry at this dumbing down of their work, one animator sent this sarcastic internal memo...

Enter the real names of the re-titled films!

Quiz by overtired
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Last updated: October 27, 2021
First submittedSeptember 23, 2021
Times taken14,701
Average score72.2%
Rating4.01
4:00
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WALT DISNEY PICTURES
 
 
INTER-OFFICE COMMUNICATION
 
 
 
 
 
TO:       Animation Department          DATE:   February 13, 1986   
FROM: Peter Schneider EXT: 2630  SUBJECT:                              
 
 
 
 
 
Along with the new title for Basil of Baker Street it has been
decided to re-name the entire library of animated classics.
The new titles are as follows...
 
 
SEVEN LITTLE MEN HELP A GIRL
 
 
THE WOODEN BOY WHO BECAME REAL
 
 
COLOR AND MUSIC
 
 
THE WONDERFUL ELEPHANT WHO COULD REALLY FLY
 
 
THE LITTLE DEER WHO GREW UP
 
 
THE GIRL WITH THE SEE-THROUGH SHOES
 
 
THE GIRL IN THE IMAGINARY WORLD
 
 
THE AMAZING FLYING CHILDREN
 
 
TWO DOGS IN LOVE
 
 
THE GIRL WHO SEEMED TO DIE
 
 
PUPPIES TAKEN AWAY
 
 
THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING
 
 
A BOY, A BEAR AND A BIG BLACK CAT
 
 
ARISTOCATS
 
 
ROBIN HOOD WITH ANIMALS
 
 
TWO MICE SAVE A GIRL
 
 
A FOX AND A HOUND ARE FRIENDS
 
 
THE EVIL BONEHEAD
 
 
And of course our latest classic destined to win the hearts
of the American public…
 
 
THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Pinocchio
Fantasia
Dumbo
Bambi
Cinderella
Alice in Wonderland
Peter Pan
Lady and the Tramp
Sleeping Beauty
One Hundred and One Dalmatians
The Sword in the Stone
The Jungle Book
The Aristocats
Robin Hood
The Rescuers
The Fox and the Hound
The Black Cauldron
+4
Level 82
Oct 26, 2021
Also check out Part 2... It's the same, but different...
+3
Level 83
Sep 24, 2021
The word 'Dalmatians' is misspelled
+3
Level 82
Sep 24, 2021
Whoops, thank you
+10
Level 78
Sep 24, 2021
The new name for The Aristocats was not horribly imaginative. I thought it might have been a mistake, but it is indeed correct.
+7
Level 82
Sep 24, 2021
Yeah, maybe he thought it was already blunt enough in describing a film about aristocratic cats. Or perhaps as it's not based on an existing work and the title was already a creation of the studio he didn't think it needed changing.
+7
Level 76
Sep 24, 2021
Oh we dumb peasants don't know the word Aristocrat. Maybe Rich Cats would be better.
+6
Level 51
Oct 27, 2021
I think it's the former, he probably thought Aristocats was already a dumb title so wanted to highlight how bad he thought it was in the letter.
+13
Level 70
Sep 24, 2021
The 16% of people who missed The Aristocats were the people who thought the answer couldn't be that obvious.
+3
Level 61
Oct 29, 2021
I would say they are the ones who never heard of such movie, like me.
+3
Level 56
Sep 24, 2021
Great quiz overtired!
+1
Level 82
Sep 25, 2021
Thanks :)
+6
Level 82
Sep 24, 2021
I guess I'm among the 75% of test takers who has never seen The Black Cauldron.
+4
Level 82
Sep 27, 2021
Seen...nor, heard of it!
+1
Level 72
Sep 28, 2021
Honestly, read the books instead of watching the movie. Even though they are "kids" books, they are absolutely good enough to entertain adults too.
+2
Level 84
Oct 27, 2021
If this memo is real it would have been written the year after Black Cauldron was in theaters and probably more present in people's minds. If it were written again today I'm sure that one would be omitted.
+1
Level 72
Oct 27, 2021
It is indeed real. Well... it wasn't a "real" memo, in that it wasn't something officially put out as a company announcement from the animation supervisor, but it was actually written in 1986 as a frustrated joke by a Disney animator, Ed Gombert, and was unofficially circulated around the department.
+3
Level 82
Sep 25, 2021
It might have irked Schneider (not really just an animator, but the head of Walt Disney Feature Animation), but it worked... and it saved his job.

For so many reasons, back in the 80s, WDFA was in a dire situation, as Michael Eisner (Disney CEO) wanted to shut it down for good. They even were kicked out of Disney studio lot, for crying out loud!!

WDFA received an ultimatum before The Great Mouse Detective hit cinemas: If it bombed, that was it. No more feature animated movies from Disney (if any, those would be outsourced).

The movie did fairly well, enough to keep WDFA running.

So, we can thank The Great Mouse Detective for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Mulan, Tangled, Frozen, Moana and, basically, every Disney feature animated movie from the 90s onwards.

Sure, the movie is really, really good... good enough to do well whatever its name would have been. However, a dumbed-down name in dire circumstances proved to be quite helpful, too!

+3
Level 82
Sep 25, 2021
Schneider didn't write or send the memo. It was written in his name by animator Ed Gombert.

As for whether the title helped in the film's relative success, there's no way to know without checking the alternate reality where the original title was used, but it may well have done.

+2
Level 84
Oct 27, 2021
If that's true I'm surprised they even considered TGMD to be a success. It was only marginally more successful than Black Cauldron - widely considered to be a huge flop. It made half as much as The Fox and the Hound, for example, which itself was pretty far from being a huge hit. Oliver & Company helped get things back on track; much more than Great Mouse Detective, anyway. But things wouldn't really turn around for Disney Feature Animation until Little Mermaid 3 years later - that movie was a gigantic success compared to how much the studio had been struggling in the decade prior. Rescuers Down Under did okay... but didn't make anywhere near Mermaid money... then Beauty & the Beast proved that Mermaid wasn't a fluke. Then Aladdin was an even bigger hit. And then Lion King made so much money that every other studio in Hollywood suddenly wanted to open their own animation departments. But I'd credit Ariel with starting this trend, as most do, not Basil.
+2
Level 82
Oct 27, 2021
I think it's more that it was a step in the right direction than a huge success. The Black Cauldron made half its budget. The Great Mouse Detective made nearly three times its budget.

You're right, the box office was nothing compared to what they would soon be pulling in or what they had before, but at least it made money for the new producers after The Black Cauldron's big loss put the department in threat of being shut down.

But yeah, the "Disney Renaissance" starts with The Little Mermaid.

+2
Level 72
Oct 27, 2021
It "saved" Disney animation in the sense that Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg had just taken over Disney in 1984, shortly before The Black Cauldron was released. It was the first animated movie released under their watch, and when it only made half of its budget back at the box office and was a critical failure, they were ready to shut down Disney feature animation entirely. TGMD was the next movie lined up, and Eisner slashed its budget in half and moved its release day up by more than a year. Under those conditions, TGMD still ended up getting positive reviews and made back almost three times its budget, so they were convinced that Disney's feature animation department was worth keeping around.

So basically, if TGMD had failed, Disney animation never would have had the chance to reach the blockbuster successes it had starting with The Little Mermaid.

+1
Level 84
Oct 27, 2021
fair enough, then. Though the only way you can say that it made "3x its budget" is, then, that they were slashing budgets after Black Cauldron, forcing it to be made for less.
+1
Level 82
Oct 27, 2021
Yeah it cost a lot less. The Black Cauldron had a long and troubled production and went way over budget to $44m. The Fox and the Hound cost $12m and Basil cost $14m, which were more normal budgets at the time I think.
+1
Level 72
Oct 27, 2021
Oh, sure. The point is that it showed Eisner and Katzenberg that Disney animated movies were still capable of making money.
+1
Level 53
Sep 30, 2021
Honestly I've never even seen Black Cauldron but I just memorized all of the Disney films. Great quiz btw.
+1
Level 66
Oct 27, 2021
I think that the Great Mouse Detective is a fine title and I’m not sure how it’s dumbing it down in any way, as it’s just a synonym for the main character. Sleeping Beauty is a catchier name than “Princess Aurora” and Sword in the Stone is a catchier name than “King Arthur”. To me, the Great Mouse Detective is also catchier than Basil of Baker Street
+2
Level 58
Oct 27, 2021
For "The Fox and the Hound," "The Fox the Hound" should be accepted, for the people who use an ampersand.
+1
Level 82
Oct 27, 2021
Have added that, thanks.
+1
Level 72
Oct 27, 2021
The first clickbait
+1
Level 54
Oct 27, 2021
The Great Mouse Detective is awesome. 9/10, one of the best Disney movies.
+1
Level 82
Oct 27, 2021
Agree, it's great. And quite different to anything else they've done. Very inventive, with great set pieces like the mousetrap escape and the Big Ben fight.
+2
Level 70
Oct 27, 2021
Haha love this quiz! Although (as JoshPen mentioned above) I do find it a bit odd that the new name for "The Aristocats" just dropped the "The" at the beginning. I probably would've gone with something like "Rich Cats" to dumb it down further.
+2
Level 69
Feb 18, 2022
overtired didn't choose these - it's a real memo sent by a real disney employee at the time
+2
Level 68
Oct 27, 2021
Cute quiz! This is not important, but I wanted to mention that Disney spells it "Dwarfs" not "Dwarves". I wish this weren't the case, but I guess either spelling is considered correct in English.
+1
Level 82
Oct 27, 2021
Oh wow, so they do. Never noticed before. Thanks, have submitted correction.
+2
Level 65
Nov 3, 2021
Apparently "dwarfs" is actually the correct spelling, and "dwarves" was not a thing until Tolkien spelled it that way in LOTR.
+1
Level 72
Oct 27, 2021
Wonderful quiz as always! I love the letter format and the rainbow of answers :D

Also loved the bluntness of the Aristocats' clue lol, it's pretty hard to dumb it down even further, and the pun is pretty great anyways (as is the movie, absolutely loved it as a kid and I still do)

+1
Level 58
Oct 27, 2021
Love the Black Cauldron.
+1
Level 75
Oct 29, 2021
Do think this quiz is a little flawed in that he wrote it in order of when they were released so you didn't technically have to even read his dumbed down version. Also think it should be yellow boxed.
+1
Level 82
Oct 29, 2021
True, but most people don't know the exact release order of the films. I had thought about making it yellow box but I'm not sure it makes much difference other than adding a layer of hassle as the clues are so on the nose anyway.
+1
Level 28
Oct 29, 2021
no

no

+1
Level 54
Oct 31, 2021
I regret missing Aristocrats and Robin Hood.
+1
Level 65
Nov 3, 2021
I didn't pay attention to the date, and I didn't realize that this was actually written! All I could come up with for the Evil Bonehead was the Nightmare before Christmas or Coco.