A monumental event in the history of animation and cinema occurred on December 21, 1937, when Disney’s first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, made its grand premiere at Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. Three weeks later it debuted in New York City on this day January 13, 1938. The premiere was held at the illustrious Radio City Music Hall, marking a significant milestone not only for Disney but also for the entire film industry.
The following day, The New York Times reported: “Sheer fantasy, delightful, gay and altogether captivating, touched the screen yesterday when Walt Disney’s long-awaited feature-length cartoon of the Grimm fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, had its local premiere at the Radio City Music Hall.”
The production of Snow White was a daring endeavor for Walt Disney. Prior to its release, most people were skeptical about the idea of a feature-length animated film. Critics referred to it as “Disney’s Folly”. However, Disney’s vision and faith in Snow White paid off handsomely. The film was a tremendous success, both critically and commercially.
The premiere of Snow White was an event of grandeur. Distinguished guests from the world of arts, politics, and society were in attendance to witness this historic moment. The film’s groundbreaking animation techniques, coupled with its enchanting story and music, captivated audiences. Snow White was given a standing ovation at the end of the screening – a testament to its triumph.
Snow White‘s premiere in NYC in 1938 was more than just a movie release; it represented a paradigm shift in cinema. It demonstrated that animation could be used to tell complex narratives that could engage adults as well as children. It set the standard for all animated films that followed and paved the way for Disney’s dominance in the animation industry.
Following its premiere, Snow White went on to achieve remarkable feats. It was the highest-grossing film of 1938 and held onto this record until it was surpassed by Gone with the Wind in 1939. Furthermore, it received an honorary Academy Award for its significant innovation in cinema. Today, over eight decades later, Snow White continues to be one of Disney’s most beloved classics, its charm undimmed by time.
Curated by Jennifer