Hollywood Flashback: 80 Years Ago, Disney’s ‘Snow White’ Set the Animation Standard

The 1937 classic, praised as the “greatest film ever made,” quickly became the highest-grossing film of all time.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Walt Disney’s masterpiece. It’s as simple as that. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, the theme parks, the TV behemoth and, now, Star Wars and Marvel movies — all of it pales in comparison to the artistic achievement of his 1937 animated film.

Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet director of Battleship Potemkin (and a friend of Disney’s), called it “the greatest film ever made.” Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian marveled at its production technique. THR said Disney, then 36, “has carved for himself a permanent niche in the motion picture hall of fame.”

Besides being an artistic success, the $1.5 million production ($25 million today) raked in a ton of money. It followed its December 1937 premiere with a Feb. 4, 1938, nationwide release, and then opened through RKO in 10 languages in 49 countries, grossing $8 million ($139 million today).

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