'Sleeping Beauty' then and now

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After spending $6 million by 1959 to complete “Sleeping Beauty,” Disney decided to bump up ticket prices and pair the movie with a wide-screen short, “Grand Canyon.”

Moviegoers paid $2.40 for tickets — comparable to $19.45 today, in case you balk when you see the cost for admission, 3-D or 3-D IMAX. As always popcorn sold separately.

As Maleficent moves from villainess to title player, some tidbits about “Sleeping Beauty” and the new “Maleficent,” culled from film historian Leonard Maltin’s book, “The Disney Films,” a special edition of the movie issued on DVD in 2003 and Disney.

1. The written origins of the Sleeping Beauty fable can be traced to the 1527 French novel “Perceforest.” In 1697, “The Beauty Asleep in the Woods” was published by Charles Perrault in his book, “The Tales of Mother Goose.” He changed the villainess from a queen to a wicked fairy, setting the stage for the Disney version to come.

2. Preliminary work on “Sleeping Beauty” started in 1950, was put aside while staff concentrated on the 1955 opening of Disneyland and the studio’s two TV series. Work resumed in 1956 and it opened on Jan. 29, 1959.

3. The cartoon ran 75 minutes and cost $6 million, equivalent to more than $48 million today.

4. The studio wanted “Sleeping Beauty” to look different from its other films and producer designer/color stylist Eyvind Earle came up with the stylized look based on research into such references as medieval paintings and tapestries.

5. Real-life actors and actresses, including Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee on “The Andy Griffith Show”) and Eleanor Audley, who was the voice of Cinderella’s stepmother and Maleficent, were photographed to help the animators capture the action for “Sleeping Beauty.”

6. The castle in “Maleficent” is modeled after the 1959 one. It took 250 construction workers and 20 members of the art department 14 weeks to build.

7. Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard and her team created more than 2,000 costumes by hand for “Maleficent.”

8. The spinning wheel is one of the constants from the earliest version of the fable. Spinning needles or splinters of spun flax consistently have factored into sending the princess into a sleep, due to a spell.

9. The horns worn by Angelina Jolie as Maleficent were made by Oscar winner Rick Baker’s team from urethane casting resin, which is light and durable. She also wears prosthetic cheekbones and ears.

10. To play the raven who then turns into a man, Diaval, along with other creatures at Maleficent’s command, actor Sam Riley met with experts on the movements of ravens. He then ran around a huge room flapping his arms and making cawing noises and also donned contact lenses to make his eyes black.


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