While Walt Disney Productions continued releasing family-friendly films throughout the 1970s, such as Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and Freaky Friday (1976), the films did not fare as well at the box office as earlier material. However, the animation studio saw success with Robin Hood (1973), The Rescuers (1977), and The Fox and the Hound (1981). As head of the studio, Miller attempted to make films to drive the profitable teenage market who generally passed on seeing Disney films. Inspired by the popularity of Star Wars, Disney produced the science-fiction adventure The Black Hole in 1979; it cost $20 million to make, but was lost in Star Wars’ wake. The Black Hole was the first Disney film to carry a PG rating in the United States. Disney dabbled in the horror genre with The Watcher in the Woods, and financed the boldly innovative Tron; both films were released to minimal success.
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Disney also hired outside producers for film projects, which had never been done before in the studio’s history. In 1979, Disney entered a joint venture with Paramount Pictures on the production of the 1980 film adaptation of Popeye and Dragonslayer (1981); the first time Disney collaborated with another studio. Paramount distributed Disney films in Canada at the time, and it was hoped that Disney’s marketing prestige would help sell the two films. Finally, in 1982, the Disney family sold the naming rights and rail-based attractions to the Disney film studio for 818,461 shares of Disney stock then worth $42.6 million none of which went to Retlaw. Also, Roy E. Disney objected to the overvalued purchase price of the naming right and voted against the purchase as a Disney board director.
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