Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat
The Making of Roger Rabbit
Who Framed Roger Rabbit emerged at a nexus of people, technology, and circumstances that is historically, culturally, and aesthetically momentous. By the 1980s, animation seemed a dying art. Not even the Walt Disney Company, which had already won over thirty Academy Awards, could stop what appeared to be the end of an animation era.
To revitalize popular interest in animation, Disney needed to reach outside its own studio and create the distinctive film that helped usher in a Disney Renaissance. That film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, though expensive and controversial, debuted in theaters to huge success at the box office in 1988. Unique in its conceit of cartoons living in the real world, Who Framed Roger Rabbit magically blended live action and animation, carrying with it a humor that still resonates with audiences.
Upon the film's release, Disney's marketing program led the audience to believe that Who Framed Roger Rabbit was made solely by director Bob Zemeckis, director of animation Dick Williams, and the visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, though many Disney animators contributed to the project. Author Ross Anderson interviewed over 140 artists to tell the story of how they created something truly magical. Anderson describes the ways in which the Roger Rabbit characters have been used in film shorts, commercials, and merchandising, and how they have remained a cultural touchstone today.