Did you know that Belle’s iconic yellow ball gown was created during a late-night pizza spree, among others by Brian McEntee, the art director, Howard Ashman, the film’s lyricist and executive producer, and Don Hahn, the producer of Beauty and the Beast? Well, now you do!
And little beary beauties and cuties love pizza!
Today marks the 25th anniversary of 1991’s Beauty and the Beast and little bears are watching the movie. Again 🙂
In September, there was a 25th anniversary screening of the movie at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Following the screening, Angela Lansbury surprised the audience with a live performance of the song Beauty and the Beast. She was accompanied by Alan Menken, the song’s original co-writer and Disney music legend.
At the screening, original voice cast members — including Paige O’Hara (Belle), Robby Benson (Beast), Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts), Richard White (Gaston), and producer Don Hahn — re-united for the first time in years, and reminisced about the film’s legacy during a Q&A session.
When asked about their favorite memory from the movie making process, Paige O’Hara (Belle) told the audience about how Lansbury recorded the titular Beauty and the Beast song in a single take.
“I remember the day we were in the recording studio with the amazing Broadway singers in the background chorus and the amazing [New York Philharmonic] orchestra,” O’Hara said. “And then Ms. Lansbury — who I have admired my whole life — came in after being up all night […] and was a trooper. We were all worried she would be too exhausted and then she comes out and sings Beauty and the Beast in one take.”
Producer Don Hahn, along with the late Howard Ashman — the film’s lyricist and executive producer — worked on Beauty and the Beast from a Residence Inn hotel in Fishkill, New York, where many of the movie’s hit songs were composed — including the title ballad. They also came up with key characters there: “For Mrs. Potts, we originally tried to find the most soothing possible association and we came up with Mrs. Chamomile,” revealed Hahn. “Chamomile is a very, soothing herbal tea, but nobody could pronounce it. So Howard said, ‘Let’s call her Mrs. Potts.’ Calling her Mrs. Potts was simple, and it was easy to rhyme with, and kids could say it. It was the same for Lumière. He was Chandal for a while, like chandelier, but became Lumière because Lumière is easier to say. He was also named after the Lumière brothers, who were early film and photograph guys.”
When the Beast asks Cogsworth and Lumière for ideas about a special thing he could do for Belle, Cogsworth replies: “Well there’s the usual things — flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.” The line was improvised by actor David Ogden Stiers, and the directors liked it so much they actually kept it in.
When Bradley Pierce was cast as Chip, a precocious teacup, he only had one line. The boy so impressed the filmmakers that they expanded his part and cut out the role of a mute music box.
Belle is one of the first Disney princesses meant to be in her 20s. All the other princesses were teenagers. Belle was also unique in having brown hair (and eyes), plus a “geeky” quality to her love for reading and adventure.
In 1992, Beauty and the Beast became the first ever animated feature film to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars. Disney lost to Silence of the Lambs, but won two other Academy Awards for original score and original song.
It was the first Disney animated film to have a final and fully developed script before animators started their work on it. The film took over three-and-a-half years to complete and the finished product consisted of over 2km of hand-drawn film, 1,100 painted backgrounds and 150,000 individually rendered frames.
Next March will see the highly anticipated release of the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (Beast), Luke Evans (Gaston), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts), Ewan McGregor (Lumière) and Nathan Mack (Chip).
Even more anticipated is the release in February of another Belle ball gown by Build a Bear 🙂