The ornate auditorium of Hollywood’s classic El Capitan Theatre rang with laughter on August 30 as the audience enjoyed Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The 30th-anniversary screening kicked off a month of “Throwback” family classics, selected by Disney cast members. Who Framed Roger Rabbit runs through September 3. Following from September 6-9 is the fantasy musical Enchanted starring Amy Adams. On September 13, a special double feature pairs the 1961 Absent-Minded Professor and the 1997 remake Flubber. Robin Williams’ Flubber will also be offered from Sept. 13-16. The series winds up with Disney-Pixar’s Up from September 20-23.
For the opening night of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the El Capitan hosted a special animator’s panel. Four artists who worked on the film 30 years ago shared the stage. Tom Sito served as moderator. Joining him was Andreas Deja, Irene Parkins and Nik Ranieri. Each first shared how they were hired for the film and about working with animation director Richard Williams in London.
Along the way they touched on a variety of subjects, including: censorship (Disney decided, after the sequence had been recorded and animated, that Eddie Valiant would be ordered to “Cut the bullschtick.”); demands from other studios (Walter Lantz’s people objected to Sylvester’s excessive expectoration: “You cannot spit on Woody Woodpecker.”); and famous visitors (Jim Henson spent a couple of days, finally declaring, “Oh! It’s going to be good!”). The biggest revelation of the night was learning that the animators themselves formed the choir that sang “Smile, Darn Ya Smile” during the film’s memorable finale.
Andreas Dejo admitted for the first time that he has always been bothered by a major error he made while animated Roger Rabbit. During the sequence in which Roger and Eddie, separated by a bed, are arguing, Roger was supposed to lean on the mattress. Deja missed that detail, but the edge of the mattress can still be seen “crumpling” during the sequence.
As the stories wound down, animators that worked on the film were acknowledged in the audience. Just before closing, Nik Ranieri reminded Deja that he had predicted they would meet one day for a panel just like this one. They chuckled as they recalled that they would meet thirty or forty years later, boasting about how they did it all… and by hand!
The actual screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit at the El Capitan was excellent as always. The movie looks as good as ever, particularly in light of the fact that it is now thirty years old.
The El Capitan will be following up Throwback month with another month of screen revivals. To usher in October they will offer the return of Coco, with sing-along music videos featuring the Disney Channel’s Vampirina and the Ghoul Girls before each showing. This is scheduled for September 27 through October 7. Following Coco is a 25th-anniversary screening of Hocus Pocus from October 11-21. The month winds up with the annual return of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, also in its 25th year. There will be a “spooktacular” event on opening night, October 22, and the film will run through the end of October.
Tickets are on sale now for all upcoming El Capitan features.