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Friday, January 8, 2016

Freaky Fridays: From "Freaky Friday" to "Splash"

Diane Disney Miller used to tell a story about how her father once confided in her about how he often felt hamstrung by audiences who expected a Walt Disney movie to be like. After watching To Kill A Mockingbird, he sincerely wished that he could have produced a film like that, but his audience wouldn't allow it. When her husband Ron began taking charge at Walt Disney Productions, he felt that the company could possibly produce more mature films.

He knew, however, that he would need to take small steps towards that goal. Freaky Friday may not seem to be much more than a typical Disney family comedy, but it actually features several scenes that might have raised eyebrows. The film features a young lady who lies to her parents and Rebels against them. After she switches places with her mother, she chooses to pursue her crush, a young man, while in her mother's body. Barbara Harris is inspired as the young girl in an older woman's body who becomes the world's first cougar.

The company took a further step forward with Michael J. Fox's first film, Midnight Madness. While the film was no Animal House, it featured college students who would have all been thrown out of Disney's fictional Medfield College of the 1960's. The company even removed its name from the film, releasing it without a studio name attached to it.

By 1984, the company was in dire straits due to EPCOT's cost overruns and poor initial reception. Mr. Miller decided to finally go all in on producing more mature films. He created the new film label Touchstone Picture and put its first film into production.

The first film was Splash, which starred Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks. The film was a blockbuster, becoming the company's biggest film in years. Unfortunately, Ron Miller couldn't hold on long enough and the success of the film was credited to his successor.