“Giant squid astern, sir!”

I’ve got a whale of a tale to tell you, lads.  Another title for our proposed Walt Disney Master-Folio series would have been 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, the epic 1954 Disney adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic science fiction novel.  The film is a favorite of ours, and three years prior, we had designed the 50th anniversary collectibles assortment for Disney, (including the most faithful replica of the submarine Nautilus ever mass-produced.)

Here were some of the riches we aimed to include:

In the years since we put together this proposal, the soundtrack recording was eventually released, first on iTunes and later as a CD by Intrada (which you can purchase today! ) We had long been pushing for the recording’s release, and the Master-Folio package seemed like one more good reason to pester Disney about it again.

Serious “Leagues” fans will have noted that the Image Album was to include stills from the lost “South Pole scene” not in the final motion picture:

And there was more.

And one of the most exciting elements of all: a flip book of the unused pencil animation done early in the film’s production–for the Giant Squid!  In the finished movie, an enormous articulated puppet attacked Captain Nemo’s submarine and fed our collective childhood nightmares, but did you know the monster was first planned to be flat cel animation combined with live action?

The “squid animation” was an exciting discovery for us in Disney’s Animation Research Library, with 115 graphite drawings on long CinemaScope paper. It amounted to only a few seconds of animation on screen, but it was dramatic to see, with the tentacled monster abruptly rearing backward in a blast of black ink.  Sorry I’m unable to show it to you here, because the sequence remains in Disney’s hands. Hopefully someday it will surface!  In the meantime, you can see some of the other animated sea life that would have been spied through Nemo’s wondrous irising window—here: on youtube.
Will the Walt Disney Master-Folio Collection someday come to pass?  Maybe, as James Mason’s Captain Nemo says, “In God’s good time.”

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