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Monday, June 3, 2013
Disney's The Hunchback Of Notre Dame At Burger King And McDonald's
When I had to read Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame at school way back in 1990, it never crossed my mind that Disney might make the story into an animated movie.
Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" had its world premiere at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 19, 1996. Because New Orleans is French, get it?
I did not go to the premiere. I did find the program for the event at a Disney Outlet Store in Boaz, Alabama.
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" hit movie theaters across America on June 21, 1996.
So how do you sell such a dark, adult story set in Paris as a fun time for all? Focus on the Mardi Gras-style Feast of Fools!
Disney and Burger King had first joined forces for 1991's "Beauty and the Beast" in the United States.
By 1996, the Burger King marketing machine was firing on all cylinders.
Disney ruled the Burger Kingdom for years, with Burger King Kids Club toys created for "Aladdin" (1992), "The Lion King" (1994), "Pocahontas" (1995) and "Toy Story" (1995).
I have a hunch you'll come back to Burger King at least 8 different times to get all the toys.
Burger King had the best "Hunchback of Notre Dame" fast food promotional toys that I've seen.
Quasimodo was voiced by Tom Hulce, who had starred in "Animal House" and "Parenthood."
Could audiences warm up to such a grotesque character? Yes! Remember Sloth in "The Goonies"?
Disney's Hunchback is well remembered for its goosebump-inducing songs, including "Out There". Tom Hulce also did the singing for Quasimodo, which really brought the character to life on a whole different level.
The cruel, controlling Frollo was voiced by actor Tony Jay.
Tony Jay also provided the voice of Shere Khan the Tiger (in Disney's "TaleSpin" TV series and in "The Jungle Book 2") and Monsieur D'Arque in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." He also played a sculptor in an episode of "The Golden Girls" (which is technically a Disney show, but that is another story).
Frollo is one of the darkest Disney villains ever.
Tony Jay also sang Frollo's song, which is a catchy little ditty about hopes and desires that you can sing around the fireplace.
Esmeralda was voiced by Demi Moore.
I wonder if Ashton Kutcher had this toy.
Esmeralda's pet goat, Djali, is actually based on a character in Victor Hugo's novel.
Demi Moore starred as a dancer in another 1996 movie, but if there were toys associated with that film, you wouldn't find them at Burger King.
Phoebus was voiced by Kevin Kline, known for playing a scoundrel in films like "A Fish Called Wanda."
Phoebus is a bit more rugged looking than typical Disney Princes.
Phoebus broke new ground because he was the first Disney hero to have facial hair.
Thankfully, Kevin Kline gave the film a hero with a refreshing sense of humor.
The Clopin Burger King toy stands out from the rest (but cannot stand up by itself) because it is a cloth doll with vinyl features.
Puppeteer Clopin (voiced by Paul Kandel) is the narrator for the movie, and presents "The Bells of Notre Dame" with a riddle: Who is the monster and who is the man?
Clopin leads the rousing "Topsy Turvy" Feast of Fools song, as well as the dark "Court of Miracles."
Clopin closes the film with a rousing, spine-tingling reprise of "The Bells of Notre Dame."
Hugo was voiced by "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander (no relation).
Jason Alexander also voiced Abis Mal in Disney's "The Return of Jafar" and Lil' Lightning in "101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure."
Hugo is sort of like a fun, loud, obnoxious frat boy. If someone called him a pig, he couldn't take offense, because he does look like one.
Hugo is known as "the fat, stupid one with the big mouth" according to Laverne.
Laverne was voiced by Mary Wickes, an actress with an animated history.
Mary Wickes was the live action model for "101 Dalmatians" villain Cruella De Vil and starred in the live action 1959 "Dennis the Menace" TV series.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the last film for Mary Wickes, as she died during production. Jane Withers provided the voice for Laverne after Wickes passed away.
Originally, the female gargoyle character was going to be younger and played by Cyndi Lauper.
Victor was voiced by Charles Kimbrough (from TV's "Murphy Brown").
The fact that the gargoyles are named "Victor" and "Hugo" is a nice little tribute to Victor Hugo.
Victor Hugo's full name was "Victor Marie Hugo". It is curious that Disney's female gargoyle did not get the name "Marie."
The Gargoyles provided some fantasy creature comic relief fun in a story that was at times rather brutal.
In addition to Kids Club Toys, Burger King sold Hunchback puppets.
It is kind of shocking that a puppet was not made of Clopin. Then the Puppetmaster would become the Puppet, which would be wild.
Most of the Hunchback puppets, like Quasimodo, are large plush finger puppets.
The puppets are incredibly detailed for inexpensive fast food premiums.
Hugo is my favorite because he squirts water.
The water squirting is true to a gargoyle's purpose of directing water away from a building.
The Phoebus puppet has a sword, but it cannot be removed. I'm sure some kids found a way to remove it.
Phoebus has a horse named Achilles (yes, Phoebus says "Achilles, heel!" in the film). I can't help but think that an Achilles puppet would have been incredibly popular.
I remember that the Esmeralda puppet was very difficult to get.
The breakout star of "Hunchback" was Esmeralda. For some time, Esmeralda was part of the famous "Disney Princess" brand.
Outside of the United States, McDonald's promoted Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
There were a few different McDonald's Happy Meal sets in various countries. Some of the more unusual items included a set of tiny viewers at McDonald's in Australia. Take a peek at Esmeralda!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the last big Disney film that Burger King promoted in the United States. By the time Hunchback was released on home video, McDonald's and Disney had joined forces for a new multiple year worldwide partnership.
It takes balls to juggle stone statues. Plastic gargoyle juggling balls, that is.
I've always been fascinated by gargoyles, which is one of the big reasons I was so interested in Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Quasimodo did talk to gargoyles in Victor Hugo's novel. Disney just took it a step further, making them big characters that existed in Quasimodo's imagination.
Hunchback's Gargoyles appeared on quite a bit of merchandise when the film debuted.
Like so much movie merchandise in the late 1990s, the Juggling Gargoyles from Hallmark Cards could be found deep-discounted years after the film had been released in theaters.
Disney's Hunchback music, created by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, proved to be popular enough for a musical stage show. Disney's Der Glockner von Notre Dame debuted in Berlin, Germany in 1999.
A direct to video sequel, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame II", was released in 2002. The new movie gave Quasimodo a lovely love interest (sans hunchback) named Madellaine (voiced by Jennifer Love Hewitt).
Say, that could be an idea for a TV series. You know all those shows that have a fat husband and a skinny wife? And you know how ABC's "Once Upon a Time" uses fairy tale characters in a modern day setting? There could be a show called "The Horribly Injured Linebacker Bellringer and the Pretty Majorette of Notre Dame."