Friday, April 21, 2017
Though they had a few more hits with Mr. Magoo, like Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, the writing was on the wall. By the 60's the world wasn't as keen on movie shorts, so the animation studio shut down and the studio would go on to distribute Toho Studio's "giant monster" or kaiju films in the U.S. UPA would go on until one if its founders, Henry G. Saperstein died in 1998, and the company was sold off to Classic Media in 2000, ending the studio's history. Classic Media was shortly thereafter bought by Dreamworks, though UPA still holds the licensing rights to Mr. Magoo.
UPA, like Fleischer Studios, only came out with two feature films in its history, 1001 Arabian Nights, and Gay Purr-ee. I had only heard of Gay Purr-ee before researching the company, but have never seen it. 1001 Arabian Nights, which came out in 1959, is unique in that they shoe-horned Mr. Magoo into the film as Uncle Abdul Azziz Magoo. Yes, really. 1001 Arabian Nights was not the hit that UPA hoped it would be and it contributed to Columbia dropping them. Gay Pur-ee came out in 1962, and had the star power of Judy Garland behind it. Chuck Jones helped write the story and you can definitely see his animation style in the movie. Judy Garland and Chuck Jones' style was not enough, as the movie flopped, though critics liked it.
Not sure if you're seeing a trend yet, but while these animation studios could compete with Disney on a shorts level, they could not when it came to theatrical releases. That sort of competition won't come around until the 1980's. Still, these movies are still worth noting, as they still hold an important part of animation history. Animated films outside of Disney were few and far between, and not all of them were that bad.