Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is the first full-length animated feature (83 minutes in length) in color and with sound, one of Disney’s greatest films, and a pioneering classic tale in film history. It was financed due in part to the success of Disney’s earlier animated short, The Three Little Pigs (1933). Although dubbed “Disney’s Folly” during the three-four year production of the musical animation, Disney realized that he had to expand and alter the format of cartoons.
It was the first commercially successful film of its kind and a technically brilliant, innovative example of Disney animation. It was premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre on December 21, 1937, followed by a nationwide release on February 4, 1938, and with international earnings of $8 million during its initial release briefly assumed the record of highest grossing sound film at the time. Adjusted for inflation, this movie is the tenth highest-grossing film of all time. This historical moment in motion picture history changed the medium of animation. Before 1937, there was no such thing as an animated feature. The only animated films back then were short cartoons. It was the first film with an official soundtrack and the first film to release a motion picture soundtrack album. The story was adapted from the original Brothers Grimms’ Fairy Tales, but in a bowdlerized or sanitized version, without overt sexual references or violent content. Disney’s version of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale was the second of its kind – the first was a five-minute Snow White (1933).
In late 1994, Snow White was finally released on VHS home video (and laser disc) and sold 10 million copies in its first week of sale. After three weeks of availability, it sold over 17 million copies, and would soon surpass the all-time champ, Disney’s Aladdin (with 24 million copies sold since its late-1993 release). It eventually sold 50 million copies worldwide, the best-selling cassette of all time. Snow White was later released for the first time on DVD, in late 2001.