Treasure Planet is a 2002 American animated science fiction action-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. The 43rd Disney animated feature film, it is a science fiction adaptation of
Stevenson's adventure novel Treasure Island (1883), and it is at least the third retelling of the story in an outer space setting, following The Treasure Planet (1982) and the miniseries
in Outer Space (1987). It is the third Disney adaptation of the novel, following Treasure Island (1950) and Muppet Treasure Island (1996). In the film's setting, spaceships are powered by solar sails and resemble the 18th-century sailing vessels of the original Treasure Island.
The film was co-written, co-produced and directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, and features the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short, Roscoe Lee Browne, Emma Thompson, Michael Wincott, Laurie Metcalf, and Patrick McGoohan (in his final film role). The musical score was composed by James Newton Howard, while a couple of songs were written and performed by John Rzeznik. It marks Clement's and Musker's first non-musical film since The Great Mouse Detective (1986). The duo pitched the concept for the film at the same time, where they worked on another Disney animated feature, The Little Mermaid (1989). It employs a novel technique of hand-drawn 2D traditional animation set atop 3D computer animation. With a budget of $140 million, it is the most expensive traditionally animated film to date.
Treasure Planet was premiered on Paris, France and Cinerama Dome in November 6 and 17, 2002, and received a wide theatrical release on November 27. It was the first film to be released simultaneously in regular and IMAX theaters. The film was a box-office bomb, earning $38 million in the United States and Canada and $110 million worldwide, but received generally positive reviews from critics and audiences. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, but lost to Spirited Away (2001).
On the planet Montressor, young Jim Hawkins is enchanted by stories of space pirate Captain Flint and his ability to strike suddenly and disappear without a trace, hiding his loot on the fabled "Treasure Planet". Twelve years later, Jim has grown into an aloof troublemaker after his father abandoned him. He reluctantly helps his mother Sarah run the Benbow Inn, and is caught by police after recklessly skysurfing with a rocket-powered sailboard. A spaceship crashes near the inn, and the dying pilot, Billy Bones, gives Jim a sphere and warns him to "beware the cyborg". Pirates attack, burning down the inn, and Jim flees with his mother and their dog-like friend, Dr. Delbert Doppler. Jim discovers that the sphere contains a holographic star map, leading to the location of Treasure Planet, and decides to seek out the legendary fortune.
Doppler commissions the ship RLS Legacy, commanded by feline Captain Amelia and stone-skinned first mate Mr. Arrow. The motley crew is secretly led by half-robot cook John Silver, whom Jim suspects is the cyborg he was warned about. Sent to work in the galley, Jim is supervised by Silver and his shape-shifting pet, Morph, and they form a tenuous father-son relationship.
When the ship encounters a supernova, Jim secures the crew's lifelines. As a black hole forms, ruthless insectoid crew member Scroop cuts Mr. Arrow's lifeline, sending him to his death. The ship rides the shock waves to safety, and Jim is framed for neglecting Arrow's lifeline, but is comforted by Silver.
Reaching Treasure Planet, Jim discovers the crew are indeed pirates led by Silver, and a mutiny erupts. Doppler, Amelia, and Morph abandon ship, and Jim retrieves the map, while Silver cannot bring himself to shoot Jim, allowing him to escape with the others. The group are shot down, injuring Amelia, and discover that the map is Morph in disguise, with the real map still on the ship.
They meet B.E.N., an abandoned navigational robot with knowledge of Flint and his treasure, but missing much of his memory. Cornered by the pirates, Jim, Morph, and B.E.N. hijack a longboat and return to the Legacy to retrieve the map. Scroop attacks them, and the artificial gravity is disabled; Scroop attempts to cut Jim loose, but Jim kicks him overboard into deep space. Returning, they are caught by Silver and his crew, who have already captured Doppler and Amelia.
Silver forces Jim to use the map, directing them to a portal that opens to any location in the universe, allowing Flint to conduct his raids. They open the portal to the core of Treasure Planet, which is actually an ancient machine Flint commandeered to stow his treasure, but trip a hidden sensor. As the pirates collect the loot, Jim finds the skeletal remains of Flint, holding the missing component to B.E.N.'s cognitive computer. He reinserts it, and B.E.N. immediately recalls that Flint rigged the planet to explode upon the treasure's discovery. As the planet collapses, Silver attempts to escape with a boatload of treasure, but abandons it to save Jim. The survivors board the Legacy, which becomes damaged and unable to escape the planet in time. Jim rigs a makeshift sailboard and rides ahead, setting the portal to Montressor Spaceport as he and the others clear the planet's explosion.
Jim finds Silver below decks and allows him to escape, and Silver gives him Morph and a handful of treasure, to pay for rebuilding the inn, believing Jim will "rattle the stars". Sometime later, a party is hosted at the rebuilt Benbow Inn; Doppler and Amelia are married with children; B.E.N. has become a waiter at the inn; and Jim, matured under Silver's mentorship, has become an interstellar cadet, and sees an image of Silver in the clouds.
Treasure Planet took roughly four and a half years to create, but the concept for Treasure Planet (which was called Treasure Island in Space at the time) was originally pitched by Ron Clements in 1985 at the "Gong Show" meeting wherein he and John Musker also pitched The Little Mermaid. The pitch was rejected by Michael Eisner, who knew Paramount Pictures was developing a Star Trek sequel with a Treasure Island angle (which eventually went unproduced). The idea was pitched again in 1989 following the release of The Little Mermaid, but the studio still expressed disinterest. Following the release of Aladdin, the idea was pitched for a third time, but Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was the chief of Walt Disney Studios at the time, "just wasn't interested" in the idea. Angered at the rejection, Clements and Musker approached Feature Animation chairman Roy E. Disney who backed the filmmakers and made his wishes known to Eisner, who in turn agreed that the studio should produce the movie. In 1995, their contract was re-negotiated to allow them to commence development on Treasure Planet when Hercules reached completion.
Since Musker and Clements wanted to be able to move "the camera around a lot like Steven Spielberg or James Cameron," the delay in production was beneficial since "the technology had time to develop in terms of really moving the camera." Principal animation for the film began in 2000 with roughly 350 crew members working on it. In 2002, Roy Conli estimated that there were around 1,027 crew members listed in the screen credits with "about four hundred artists and computer artists, about a hundred and fifty musicians and another two hundred technologists". According to Conli, Clements wanted to create a space world that was "warm and had more life to it than you would normally think of in a science fiction film", as opposed to the "stainless steel, blue, smoke coming from the bowels of heavily pipe laden" treatment of science fiction. In order to make the film "fun" by creating more exciting action sequences and because they believed that having the characters wear space suits and helmets "would take all the romance out of it", the crew created the concept of the "Etherium," an "outer space filled with atmosphere".
Several changes were made late in the production to the film. The prologue of the film originally featured an adult Jim Hawkins narrating the story of Captain Flint in first person, but the crew considered this to be too "dark" and felt that it lacked character involvement. The crew also intended for the film to include a sequence showing Jim working on his solar surfer and interacting with an alien child, which was intended to show Jim's more sensitive side and as homage to The Catcher in the Rye. Because of the intention to begin the film with a scene of Jim solar surfing, the sequence had to be cut.
Writer Rob Edwards stated that "it was extremely challenging" to take a classic novel and set it in outer space, and that they did away with some of the science fiction elements ("things like the metal space ships and the coldness") early on. Edwards goes on to say that they "did a lot of things to make the film more modern" and that the idea behind setting the film in outer space was to "make the story as exciting for kids now as the book was for kids then".
With regard to adapting the characters from the book to film, Ron Clements mentioned that the Jim Hawkins in the book is "a very smart, very capable kid", but they wanted to make Jim start out as "a little troubled kid" who "doesn't really know who he is" while retaining the aforementioned characteristics from the original character. The "mentor figures" for Jim Hawkins in the novel were Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey, whom John Musker described as "one is more comic and the other's very straight"; these two characters were fused into Dr. Doppler. Clements also mentions that though the father-son relationship between Jim Hawkins and John Silver was present "to some degree" in the book, they wanted to emphasize it more in the film.
Terry Rossio, who worked on the script, later argued the filmmakers made a crucial mistake turning Jim Hawkins into an adolescent. "Treasure Island, the book, is a boy's adventure, about a young cabin boy who matches wits with a crew of bloodthirsty pirates. All of the key scenes are made more dramatic by the fact that it's a young kid who is in danger... Treasure Planet made the kid into a young man. Which dilutes the drama of all the situations, start to finish... Instead of being an amazing and impressive kid, he became a petulant unimpressive teen."
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jim
Hawkins, an adolescent pining for adventure. Austin Majors voices Jim as a young child.
- Brian Murray as John
Silver, a cyborg who leads the mutiny on the RLS Legacy.
- David Hyde Pierce as Dr. Delbert Doppler, an anthropomorphic dog and astronomer. He is a combination of Dr. Livesey and
Squire Trelawney from Treasure Island.
- Emma Thompson as Captain Amelia, an anthropomorphic cat and the captain of the RLS Legacy. She is an analog to
Captain Alexander Smollett in Treasure Island.
- Martin Short as B.E.N., a robot who has lost his memory and was abandoned on Treasure Planet by Captain Flint. His name is a reference to Treasure Island's
Ben Gunn, on whom he is based.
- Roscoe Lee Browne as Mr. Arrow, Captain Amelia's first mate.
- Laurie Metcalf as Sarah Hawkins, Jim Hawkins' mother who runs the Benbow
- Dane Davis as Morph, a small pink creature that can morph into any form and is Silver's pet. He is comparable to the pet parrot owned by Silver in the original Treasure Island.
- Michael Wincott as Scroop, a vicious spider-/crab-like crewman on the RLS Legacy. He is a rough analog to Israel Hands in Treasure Island.
- Patrick McGoohan as Billy
Bones, a sailor who owned the map to Treasure Planet.
- Peter Cullen (uncredited) as Captain Nathaniel Flint, a legendary space pirate seen at the beginning of the film.
- Tony Jay as the Narrator. Jay had previously lent his voice to Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991) as Monsieur D'Arque and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) as Claude Frollo.
- Jane Carr as Mrs. Dunwitty, one of the customers at the Benbow Inn.
While designing for Treasure Planet, the crew operated on rule they call the "70/30 Law" (an idea that art director Andy Gaskill has credited to Ron Clements), which meant that the overall look of the film's artwork should be 70% traditional and 30% sci-fi. The overall look of Treasure Planet was based on the art style promoted by illustrators associated with the Brandywine School of Illustration (such as Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth), whose illustrations have been described by the film's crew as being the "classic storybook illustration," having a painterly feel to it, and being composed of a warm color palette.
There were around forty animators on the crew, and were further divided into teams; for example, sixteen animators were assigned to Jim Hawkins because he appeared on the screen the most, and twelve were assigned to John Silver. To ensure "solidity" in illustration and personality, each major character in the film had a team of animators led by one supervisor. Conli mentioned that the personalities of the supervisors affect the final character, citing Glen Keane (the supervisor for John Silver) as well as John Ripa (the supervisor for Jim Hawkins) as examples. The physical appearance, movements, and facial expressions of the voice actors were infused into the characters as well.
When asked if they drew inspiration from the previous film adaptations of Treasure Island for the character designs, Glen Keane stated that he disliked looking at previous portrayals of the character in order to "clear his mind of stereotypes", but that he drew some inspiration for the manner by which Silver spoke from actor Wallace Beery, whom he "loved because of the way he talked out of the side of his mouth." For the characterization and design for Jim Hawkins, John Ripa cited James Dean as an important reference because "there was a whole attitude, a posture" wherein "you felt the pain and the youthful innocence", and he also cited the film Braveheart because "there are a lot of close-ups on characters...who are going through thought processes, just using their eyes."
Animators also used maquettes, small statues of the characters in the film, as references throughout the animation process. Character sculptor Kent Melton mentioned that the first Disney film to use maquettes was Pinocchio (1940), and that this paved the way to the formation of an entire department devoted to character sculpting. Keane noted that maquettes are not just supposed to be "like a mannequin in a store", but rather has to be "something that tells you [the character's] personality" and that maquettes also helped inspire the way actors would portray their roles.
The animators took Deep Canvas, a technology which they had initially developed for Tarzan (1999), and came up with a process they called "Virtual Sets," wherein they created entire 360 degree sets before they began staging the scenes. They combined this process with traditionally-drawn characters in order to achieve a "painted image with depth perception" and enabled the crew to place the camera anywhere in the set and maneuver it as they would maneuver a camera for a live-action film. In order to test how a computer-generated body part (specifically John Silver's cyborg arm) would mesh with a traditionally animated character, the crew took a clip of Captain Hook from Peter Pan (1953) and replaced his arm with the cyborg arm.
The "70/30 Law" of "70% traditional and 30% sci-fi" was not only applied to the visual designs for the film, but also for the sound effects and music. Sound designer Dane Davis mentioned that he and his team "scoured hobby shops and junk stores for antique windup toys and old spinning mechanisms" in order to create the sound effects for John Silver to "avoid sounding slick or sci-fi". The team did some experimentation with the sound used in dialogues, especially with the robot B.E.N., but opted to keep Short's natural voice because everything they tried "affected his comedy", and "the last thing you want to do in a story like this is affect performances".
The music from the film is largely orchestral in nature, although it includes two moderately successful pop singles ("I'm Still Here" and "Always Know Where You Are") from The Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik and British pop-rock group, BBMak. Both songs were written and performed by John Rzeznik in the film, but BBMak recorded "Always Know Where You Are" for the soundtrack. The score was composed by James Newton Howard, who said that the score is "very much in the wonderful tradition of Korngold and Tiomkin and Steiner." The score has been described as a mixture of modern "classical style" music in the spirit of Star Wars and Celtic music. Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser is credited as the co-composer of the track "Silver Leaves", and is also listed as a soloist in the film's credits. Walt Disney Records released the film's soundtrack album on November 19, 2002.
Treasure Planet would go down in history as one of the biggest animated box office bombs of all time. The film grossed over $12 million on its debut weekend, ranking at fourth place behind Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Die Another Day, and Disney's own The Santa Clause 2. During the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the film grossed just $16.5 million worldwide. The film ended up grossing $38.1 million domestically and $71.4 million internationally for a $109.5 million worldwide gross. Its failure became apparent early on, as Disney's Buena Vista Distribution arm reduced its fourth-quarter earnings by $47 million within a few days of the film's release. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office failures of all time.
Top 10 treasure island films
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