On this day back in 2002, Disney released Treasure Planet, an ambitious science-fiction adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s swash-buckling novel, Treasure Island. Much like the original tale, the film took viewers on an exciting adventure, but this time, with a futuristic twist. As fans of the animated feature, we’ve decided to spend the day reflecting on 10 facts we’ll always treasure about Treasure Planet.
1. Filmmakers made Silver a cyborg as a way to modernize the character.
Although Long John Silver has a peg leg in the original book, the animators decided to take it a step further by making him a cyborg. On top of having the peg leg, they added a mechanical arm and eye, which was all done in CG. Blending animation with CG was something they’d never tried before.
2. Footage from Peter Pan was used to test applying CGI grafts onto animated bodies.
In order to test how CG would work in tandem with a traditionally drawn character, animators took a clip of Captain Hook from Peter Pan and replaced his arm with Silver’s cyborg arm.
3. Dr. Doppler was written with David Hyde Pierce in mind.
While David Hyde Pierce was still working on A Bug’s Life, Treasure Planet’s casting director sent him the script, and a couple of preliminary sketches. He ended up loving both and accepted the role.
4. Jim Hawkins’ personality was based on James Dean.
Animator Glen Keane listed James Dean as an important reference for Jim Hawkins because “there was a whole attitude, a posture where “you felt the pain and the youthful innocence.”
5. The scene with young Jim Hawkins in the prologue was added late into production.
In the original script, the film’s prologue started with an adult Jim Hawkins as the narrator, but the writers thought it came across too dark, and lacked character involvement. So to soften it, they added young Jim Hawkins with his story book.
6. The crew operated on a rule called the “70/30 Law” during production.
While working on the film, artists followed the 70/30 Law, which basically meant that 70% of the film would sport a traditional look, while 30% was sci-fi. The rule was also applied to the film’s sound effects and music.
7. John Silver strongly resembles Wallace Beery.
Although animator Glen Keane expressed his dislike for looking to previous portrayals of the book’s characters, he drew a lot of inspiration for Silver’s syntax from Wallace Beery, the actor who portrayed Long John Silver in the 1934 live-action version of Treasure Island.
8. Artists looked to the Brandywine School of Illustration for inspiration.
Much of the film’s art is actually based on a style of art practiced by Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth, who were both associated with the Brandywine School. Their illustrations are usually described as being “classic storybook illustration,” which favors a warm color palette.
9. Animators used full maquette statues while working on Treasure Planet.
Animators used maquettes—which are basically small statues of the characters in the film—as physical reference while they were animating. Actors also looked to these when they were figuring out how to portray their character. The first Disney film to use this technique was Pinocchio.
10. Emma Thompson helped mold Captain Amelia.
Prior to recording sessions, Emma Thompson and the writers often sat down and went through the script, sequence by sequence, to make sure the character was just right.
Which fact was the most surprising? Let us know in the comments!