Movie making is a very expensive business. The cost for American Tail was nine million dollars and we estimated that it would cost another twenty million for the ads and promotions. We had learned from hard experience that it was not enough to make a good picture. A movie needed to be properly promoted or no one would even know it existed.
A man by the name of Brad Globe was hired by Amblin Entertainment to see that the money was well spent and the picture became a household word. One day Brad came to us and said,
“What if, instead of Amblin putting up the money, we find investors who would pay for the prints and ads? What if we could get McDonalds excited about the picture? They are targeting the same audience that we are. The kids that go there to eat are the same kids that we hope will want to see American Tail.”
Brad took his brilliant idea and contacted McDonalds and Sears and between the two of them he garnered 20 million dollars. This new idea became known in the industry as “promotional tie-ins.” We had broken new ground.
The merchandise we provided for them to give away not only promoted American Tail but helped to sell millions of Happy Meals. It was a huge success and forever changed the way movies are promoted.
Funny how someone's bright idea changes the way we all live. I can't tell you how many times I've driven through McDonald's with a car full of kids and now grandkids all dying to see what will be in their Happy Meal. Hunger more often than not takes a second seat to the "toy."
“Mouse Conquers Box Office”
was the headline in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Brad’s strategies were revolutionary and American Tail did indeed make lots of money.
When Disney heard what we were doing they were green with envy and quick to copy our plan. They negotiated with McDonalds and Sears and put them under contract in an attempt to keep them from working with us.
Having just released two movies, Black Caldron and Oliver, neither of which did very well, Disney’s goal became to put us out of business. Bill Mechanic had been an employee of Disney during that time. Years later when he worked with us at Fox Studios he told us about the endless meetings he attended and sleepless nights he endured trying to think of ways to stop us. It seems we had a guardian angel or two. Just when things looked their worst, someone or something would come out of nowhere and carry us along. Those were great years!