Mickey at Carnegie

'Fantasia 2000' bows at Gotham gala

NEW YORK — Friday night’s star-studded unveiling of Walt Disney’s “Fantasia 2000” at Carnegie Hall, featuring a live performance in sync to the film by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was about distinguishing the film, nine years in the making, from every other movie in theaters — even from every other Disney movie in theaters.

It was also about introducing the power and majesty of orchestral renditions of Stravinsky and Shostakovich to those in the audience whose musical knowledge dates back to the Backstreet Boys’ first album.

In the short term, the event was clearly not about keeping an eye on Mouse House’s heavily scrutinized bottom line.

Costly endeavor

“It ain’t cheap,” said Walt Disney vice chair and the film’s exec producer Roy E. Disney, who served as the unofficial emcee of the evening. “We would love to keep the live concerts going, if we could find a way to make money on it. We are talking a 120-piece orchestra and a chorus. That is a terrific bill you’re signing.”

After its three-night Carnegie Hall stint, which ended last night, the show will go on the road for one week, with stops at London, Paris and Tokyo, before finishing up for good at the Mouse House’s gala New Year’s Eve event at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

While there were concerns over how Disney would market an animated film with no overarching storyline, Wall Street was generally bullish on the extra care the studio was lavishing on the film, which, at the conclusion of the concert tour, will be unspooled in an exclusive four-month engagement in Imax theaters worldwide.

Major event admired

Analysts applauded the concept of making the film’s release a must-see cultural event at a time when theatrical runs of animated pics are mere pit stops before they hit the lucrative ancillary markets. Friday, Disney’s stock price was up a quarter point, closing at $28.25.

While the making and showcasing of “Fantasia 2000” has been an extremely high-priced undertaking, that doesn’t mean there will be another 60-year wait for a third installment.

At an exclusive dinner following the concert, which included Walt Disney Studios president Peter Schneider, conductor James Levine and the various directors of the pic’s seven segments, guests urged Roy Disney to push forward on the next “Fantasia.”

“The animators are the ones that are really pushing to make another because they can really express themselves in this format,” Disney told Daily Variety. “They kept asking me, ‘What day after the first of the year are you going to start the new one?'”

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