Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ Nearly Sunk Disney Studios

‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ Nearly Sunk Disney Studios

Although Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is known for being the first full-length animated feature film and the first Disney animated film, the iconic movie nearly sunk Walt Disney Studios. 

The film, which first premiered in 1937, followed a beautiful princess who was exiled into a dangerous forest by her wicked stepmother, the Evil Queen. A magic mirror told the Evil Queen that Snow White was the fairest of them all, including her. She decided to hire a huntsman to kill Snow White. However, the huntsman couldn’t bring himself to kill the sweet princess and told her to run away.

Upon making her way through the forest, Snow White encountered the home of the seven dwarfs. The Evil Queen discovers Snow White is alive and she casts a spell on herself to become an old woman. She brought Snow White a poisoned apple that would make her sleep for the rest of eternity. The Evil Queen was defeated following a big chase with the dwarfs and animals of the forest. Prince Florian ended up saving Snow White by waking her with a kiss.

According to CinemaBlend, the film was originally supposed to cost approximately $250,000 to make. However, the animated classic ended up costing Walt Disney Studios around $1.5 million to make. Joseph Rosenberg, who was a Bank of America vice president at the time, told Walt Disney after watching small pieces of Snow White that the film was going to make a “hatful” of money. But that didn’t stop the loan to Disney from being approved. 

Despite the original doubts about the project, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ended up being a huge success and made $418 million at the box office. 

In a 1993 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the original Snow White Adrianna Caselotti recalled what it was like to work on the classic animated film. 

“I didn’t understand this thing until the opening night,” Caselotti admitted. “They never let me see any rushes. We started on the film in 1934 when I was 18 and it went on until I was 21.”

Caselotti said that the studio would call her in and she would be paid $20 a day. She recalled the studio even running out of money right in the middle of the project. “They didn’t know if they’d ever be able to continue, and I wasn’t called for a year. Walt had to go to the Bank of America to borrow another $250,000 to finish the film.”

When asked what it was like to work with Walt, Caselotti said that the would only say something if the cast was doing something wrong. “But he never would have had me there if I hadn’t been okay,” she continued. “Because he was really a perfectionist. To me, he was just about the greatest man artistically.”

Caselotti spent the majority of her life praising Snow White. She eventually was named a Disney Legend in 1994 and was the first female voice-over artist to achieve the recognition. She passed away in January 1997 at the age of 80.