Luckett explores the cultural discourse surrounding Fantasia at the time of its release, finding mixed reviews of the animated feature film. Positive reception focused on the film's master animation techniques and somewhat abstract narrative structure, while negative criticism came mainly from representatives of the music world who saw classical music and film as incompatible - the former being art and the latter being a "distraction." The author also analyzes the marketing and distribution strategies that made Fantasia a spectacle. Disney positioned the film as a "prestige picture" by releasing it as a roadshow, traveling around the country visiting large theaters in major cities. This strategy of infrequent screenings served popular as well as technical purposes, creating suspense/"buzz" but also allowing time for theaters to install the necessary equipment for the film's multi-channel audio "Fantasound" technology. However, this distribution method also kept the film from earning enough revenue to make up for its enormous budget. As a reslt, the film went on to be re-released many times over the next several decades. Luckett examines the conditions around these re-releases as well as their individual receptions, finding a "double connotation" in the contemporary United States. Some products (e.g. home video copies of the film) signal the film as a children's/family amusement, while other products (e.g. the Collector's Edition tapes, classical music soundtrack, lithograph) associate the film with art. The author concludes that contemporary (1990-91) marketing strategies for Fantasia re-releases mirror those for its original release: both focus on the rarity of the chance to see the film.
This article is important because it represents a kind of meta-analysis of the releases and receptions of Fantasia over time. The author acknowledges the hostility the film originally received from the musical community and argues that Fantasia has consistently been marketed as a rare event. My thesis uses similar information as explored in this article and expands on the author's conclusion by also taking into account how temporal distance from the original film affects its interpretation as art versus mass commercial commodity. While Luckett does mention the "double connotation" of the film in recent years regarding its relationship to art, this aspect of the article is mainly focused on the marketing techniques involved to produce such an effect. In this way the author's explanation here provides a more complete picture of how Fantasia has come to be viewed as art over the years.
Luckett, Moya. "Fantasia: Cultural Constructions of Disney's 'Masterpiece'" Disney Discourse: Producing the Magic Kingdom. Ed. Eric Smoodin. New York, NY: Routledge, 1994. 214-36. Google Books. 22 Nov. 2008 <http://http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=wpxzl1lcr30c&oi=fnd&pg=pr9&dq=fantasia+disney&ots=fdmktnkohv&sig=hx9e44_3n-ovwcn1ikbssvzu1vy#ppr6,m1>.