Disney's "Fantasia 2000" Going Imax

Millennial version of cartoon classic getting retooled for the XXL screen

By Daniel Frankel Feb 11, 1999 2:20 AMTags
Sixty years after Disney's seminal animated film Fantasia and its ballerina hippos first danced across mortal movie screens, the studio is retooling the classic for the monstrous Imax format.

In New York Tuesday, Disney suits arrived in numbers to officially announce Fantasia 2000, set for release next January to more than 100 ultra-big-screen Imax theaters, and featuring six new segments combined with three spiffed-up-and-reshot ones from the original. Also included: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing compositions from Beethoven, Shostakovich, Respighi, Saint-Saens, Elgar and Stravinsky.

Following gala premieres in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo and Los Angeles--complete with live orchestra accompaniment--Fantasia will do a four-month stint in Imax theaters (those movie houses with screens as high as eight story buildings and seating capacities and film-stock sizes 10 times those of average theaters), followed by a release to your neighborhood multiplex.

Mouse House vice chairman Roy E. Disney, in Gotham along with a number of other Disney big-ears to announce several upcoming film projects, said, "Uncle Walt and my father would have appreciated seeing this masterpiece on the giant IMAX screen."

Meanwhile, Imax officials said the Fantasia project is all magic and good, but what they're really looking forward to is adding a stage to the life cycle of the major motion picture, whereby films run through Imax, before hitting theaters, then pay-per-view, then video and, finally, mercifully, cable.

"We would love to do additional things with Disney," Imax president Brad Wechsler told USA Today. "But what we're talking about with Disney is part of an overall strategy."

As for Fantasia 2000, one new segment was screened during the Disney honchos' New York presentation Tuesday. The "Carnival of the Animals" episode is, according to Roy Disney, "What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a bunch of flamingos."