The Great Mouse Detective was no false dawn. Under the new management the magic finally returned to Disney’s animated features.
Ron Clements and John Musker, two of four directors on The Great Mouse Detective, returned in 1989 with The Little Mermaid. It was the first Disney animation to be based on a traditional fairytale for 30 years, and was given far more resources than any of the studio’s recent animations.
Eisner and Katzenberg gambled big, and it paid off. The film was the first animation to gross over $100 million, recaptured the old Disney dazzle and paved the way for a decade of animated succeses – Aladdin, The Lion King – that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the company’s best.