Failogue: Pinocchio Opened with a Flop and Some Naked Dwarfs

Walt Disney’s Pinocchio is considered to be one of the best animated films of all time. However, in its initial release, the film was a financial failure. Production costs for Pinocchio were more than double of its Disney predecessor, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Pinocchio did not recoup even half of that in its initial release, losing about $1 million.

And then there was the issue with the dwarfs. To create a lively atmosphere on opening day, Walt Disney hired 11 midgets (we prefer to use the term “little people” nowadays) to dress up as Pinocchio. The audience wasn’t greeted by smiling Pinocchios from the marquee that Disney wanted. Instead, they brought a different kind of spirited. They started playing craps. They got loud. And naked. After a little too much lunch wine, they may have forgotten that they were sitting on top of the marquee of one of the most anticipated film openings that year. Even worse, they refused to come down, so the police had to carry them in pillow cases.


Source: Disney History Institute


Despite the opening night issues and the budget failure of the film’s initial release, Pinocchio is considered by many to be the movie that put animated features on the same level as traditional filmmaking. Pinocchio was groundbreaking in effects animation; even by modern standards, the water scenes are considered to be some of the best ever animated. Pinocchio recouped its losses by 1945 and has grossed over $84 million in its re-releases over the decades. It is one of the most beloved films of all time with characters that will be cherished for centuries to come.

How many of us would know the difference between right and wrong without the teachings of Jiminy Cricket? And it all began with a flop opening and some naked dwarfs.

Failogue 05_Pinocchio Opened with a Flop and Some Naked Dwarfs

Failogue is a series that brings you stories of failure. Failure from those that showed up. Failure from those that took risks. Failure from those that persevered.

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Feature Image Source: Disney Parks Blog

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1 Comment

  • Reply Charlie December 7, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Brilliant, I wish they promoted more openings this way…

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