Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Decline and Fall of UPA

Top: Gerald McBoing Boing. Bottom: Dick Tracy.

Darrell Van Citters has completed a four part look at UPA's collapse, filled with details I was unaware of. UPA was the studio that broke with Disney-style graphics in the late '40s and early '50s and became a critical darling with films like Gerald McBoing Boing, Rooty Toot Toot, Unicorn in the Garden and the Mr. Magoo series. UPA's inability to control its costs is well-known but it was also the victim of the collapse of the theatrical shorts market and a large-scale exodus of talent to work on the first version of the Alvin and the Chipmunks TV series. The sale of the company to new owners was the final nail in the coffin, as they lacked any of the artistic ambition of the company's founders.

It's a cautionary tale that could apply to any animation studio, especially now that we're reaching the end of the TV era. Part 1, Part2, Part3 and Part4.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this story about UPA!! - Tom Sacchi

Floyd Norman said...

I used to visit UPA back in their hey day. What a marvelous enterprise it was. A hot bed of talent and imagination. By the sixties, the whole place had gone straight to hell.