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Don Hahn

Don Hahn

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Illinois, USA Profession: producer, production manager, orchestral percussionist, assistant director (animation), author, production assistant

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A major player in the Hollywood animation "renaissance" of the 1990s, veteran Disney staffer Don Hahn oversaw the production of two landmark animated features: "Beauty and the Beast" (1991) and "The Lion King" (1994). The former alerted the industry to both the commercial and artistic possibilities of the medium as it amassed rapturous reviews and over $145 million in box-office receipts. "Beauty and the Beast" also became the first animated feature to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Only marginally less acclaimed, "The Lion King" achieved even greater success in the marketplace with domestic receipts totaling around $340 million, making it not only Disney's biggest hit but also as of 1996) the fifth highest grossing box-office champ. Intimately involved in each aspect of his films--ranging from scripting to music to color to performance--Hahn has emerged as Disney's ace producer of animated features. After performing with the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic in high school and studying music and art at Cal State, Northridge, Hahn started a career as an orchestral percussionist before segueing to animation. He joined the Disney Studio in 1976, earning his first credit as a production...

A major player in the Hollywood animation "renaissance" of the 1990s, veteran Disney staffer Don Hahn oversaw the production of two landmark animated features: "Beauty and the Beast" (1991) and "The Lion King" (1994). The former alerted the industry to both the commercial and artistic possibilities of the medium as it amassed rapturous reviews and over $145 million in box-office receipts. "Beauty and the Beast" also became the first animated feature to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Only marginally less acclaimed, "The Lion King" achieved even greater success in the marketplace with domestic receipts totaling around $340 million, making it not only Disney's biggest hit but also as of 1996) the fifth highest grossing box-office champ. Intimately involved in each aspect of his films--ranging from scripting to music to color to performance--Hahn has emerged as Disney's ace producer of animated features.

After performing with the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic in high school and studying music and art at Cal State, Northridge, Hahn started a career as an orchestral percussionist before segueing to animation. He joined the Disney Studio in 1976, earning his first credit as a production assistant on "Pete's Dragon" (1977). The next phase of his education was supervised by an acknowledged master of animation. Hahn served as an assistant animator to Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman--one of the legendary "Nine Old Men" from the glory days of the studio in the 30s and 40s--on the 1981 feature "The Fox and the Hound". He subsequently gained production credits on the failed cartoon epic "The Black Cauldron" (1985) and the more modest but charming "The Great Mouse Detective" (1986).

Moving to England on an assignment in the mid-80s served to transform Hahn's career. He signed on as associate producer on Disney and Amblin Entertainment's ambitious live- action/animation hybrid "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988). The film's huge success paved the way for Hahn's first outing as a producer, "Beauty and the Beast". A successful formula had been established with Disney's prior animated outing "The Little Mermaid" (1989)--an isolated innocent protagonist with magical little friends learns important life lessons to the accompaniment of Broadway-styled show tunes--but Hahn and directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise fine-tuned it, created a classic for the entire family and single-handedly revived the musical as a commercial film genre. In fact, the film generated a hit Broadway musical. As for Hahn's follow-up, in addition to setting box-office records, "The Lion King" took Disney marketing and merchandising to new heights.

Hahn reteamed with the "Beauty and the Beast" helmers for an ambitious musical adaptation of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1996), a kinder, gentler take on Victor Hugo's 1831 novel. Nonetheless, while widely acclaimed, the film took some heat for its harsh subject matter and frightening situations. That same year, Hahn extended his commitment to Walt Disney Feature Animation for several more projects over the subsequent seven years including "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" (2001), an animated feature with Trousdale and Wise.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Fantasia 2000 (1999) Director (Host Sequences)

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

:
Moved to Southern California at age three
:
While in high school, performed as a member of the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic
:
Started a career as an orchestral percussionist
1976:
Joined the Walt Disney Studio
1977:
First Disney credit, production assistant on "Pete's Dragon"
1981:
Served as assistant animator to legendary Disney animator-director Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman on the feature "The Fox and the Hound"
1985:
First credit as production manager, "The Black Cauldron", an unsuccessful animated feature
1986:
Served as production manager on the animated feature "The Great Mouse Detective"
1987:
Moved to London, England to begin a two year stint as associate producer on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (released 1988), a Disney co-production with Amblin Entertainment
1989:
Producing debut, "Tummy Trouble", a "Maroon Cartoon" short starring Roger Rabbit; early collaborations with director Rob Minkoff (co-director of "The Lion King") and storymen Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (co-directors of "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"); Disney's first cartoon short subject since "Goofy's Freeway Trouble" in 1965
:
Produced "Michael and Mickey", a short film combining animation and live-action, for the Sneak Preview Theater at the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida
1991:
Feature producing debut, the critically and commercially acclaimed Disney feature "Beauty and the Beast"; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture
1994:
Served as producer on the hugely successful animated feature, "The Lion King"; film went on to become the highest grossing film in Disney history and one of the top five box-office champs
1996:
Reunited with directors Trousdale and Wise to produce the lavish period musical animated feature, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
1996:
Extended his commitment to Walt Disney Feature Animation for another seven years
1999:
Directed the live-action sequences in "Fantasia 2000"
2001:
Served as producer of the animated feature "Atlantis: The Lost Empire", co-directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
2004:
Produced the Oscar-nominated animated short "Lorenzo"
2006:
Produced the animated short, "The Little Matchgirl" directed by Roger Allers; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short
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Education

California State University, Northridge: Northridge , California -

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Denise Hahn. Animator.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Emilie Hahn.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Disney's Animation Magic: A Behind the Scenes Look at How Animated Film Is Made" Disney Press

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