A literary trip back in time with Disney
Companion ran a full-page photo of Mickey Mouse reading the magazine.
After the first Disney animation film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in the US in December 1937, the film hit Shanghai cinemas six months later and became the most popular movie that commanded the highest ticket price for that year.
In 1940, Disney’s second animated film The Adventures of Pinocchio similarly became a box office hit in Shanghai. One local magazine, titled The Family, dedicated 17 pages to the film, providing readers with detailed descriptions of the storyline. Another magazine, The Hollywood, ran 10 exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures in a bid to attract people to watch the film.
In addition, a Chinese film producer had in 1940 created a live action, Chinese version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to tap into the popularity of the movie.
This spin-off soon sparked a craze in Shanghai and many people would rush to buy merchandise from the show as well as hot stamped images of characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Characters from Walt Disney animations also started appearing in numerous advertisements, comic books and derivatives.
The success of Disney films had also boosted the development of China’s cartoon industry. Inspired by the popular Walt Disney movies, a Shanghai film studio produced Princess Iron Fan — China’s first cartoon film and the world's fourth — in 1941.
“It was the first time that a Chinese film was mentioned together with an American film. The producer of the film also created the first Chinese color cartoon titled The Monkey King, which was the first of its kind,” said Chen Zhe, the deputy director of the document service center at Shanghai Library.
Disney commentary articles by famous writers such as Eileen Chang and Lin Yutang, as well as a series of localized Disney characters such as a qipao- clad Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse sitting on a rickshaw, are also on display at the exhibition, which runs till July 11.
Shanghai Disneyland may be the latest craze right now, but competition will soon heat up when 60 more theme parks open their doors in China by 2020.
Illustrations such as this can be seen at the Disney exhibition currently on at Shanghai Library.