While not one of Disney's biggest hits, their version of Hercules still has some memorable moments and some classic characters. Today marks the 19th anniversary of the film's original theatrical release, and in celebration, Disney has released a new video showing off some behind the scenes work on the "Zero to Hero" musical number. Check out how real life performances and storyboards combined to create the final product.
While not one of Disney's greatest songs, or from one of Disney's greatest films, the video shows how much work the company really puts into their productions. Most musical numbers in Disney movies exist to tell part of the story. As such, it's fairly clear what the characters will need to be doing as the song progresses. "Zero to Hero" is a little different. It's a big montage of Hercules doing cool stuff. Exactly what the stuff is isn't that important. As such, you might expect there to be some significant deviation between the storyboards, showing the initial plans, and the final animated version of the song. Yet, there are very few shots that don't match up perfectly here. That doesn't mean there aren't a few. For some reason, they decided against the Octopus at some point.
The other highlight, is that they brought in actual performers to perform the parts of the film's muses for the dance sequences. "Zero to Hero" is unique in its use of choreography for Disney. While most songs are integrated into the story in the way that all musicals do, "Zero to Hero_" _ is meant to stop the action and sing you a song. This makes it much more focused on the performances than most other Disney music. It's not surprising that they brought in the performers to do the song in person, as that would certainly have aided the animation.
While critics enjoyed Hercules, it's certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with an 83% rating, the film was a disappointment at the box office. Hercules eventually grossed over $250 million globally, but it did less than $60 million in its first two weeks of domestic distribution, $20 million less than Disney's previous release Pocahontas, and only half of what The Lion King had been able to do.
Due to the slow public reception, Hercules hasn't seen the long term popularity that so many Disney titles have received. It's too bad. If nothing else the movie contains James Woods, at his James Woods-iest, as the film's villain Hades. It also has one of Disney's most interesting female characters ever in Megara, a fast talker right out of a 1940s screwball comedy.
So happy 19th birthday to Disney's Hercules. Are you a fan of this oft-forgotten gem? Let us know your favorite part in the comments.