20 years ago, this Disney animated movie marked the end of an era

In 2004, Home on the Range's failure ended the hand-drawn Disney animated era but is it really as bad as its reputation?
"Home on the Range" Premiere - Arrivals
"Home on the Range" Premiere - Arrivals / Gregg DeGuire/GettyImages
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The movie’s failure and legacy

Looking at the film, it’s little surprise it failed. First intended to be for Thanksgiving 2003, the complex production pushed it to April 2, 2004, not exactly a month known for big box office. Thus, the $110 million film made barely $140 million worldwide. 

The movie is not a great one, there’s no denying that. The humor is far too broad, more in line with Dreamworks than Disney and barely at the level of some of the direct-to-video films the company was putting out at the time. The plot is contrived and lazy in how easily the cows keep getting in and out of scrapes. We barely know anything about any of the characters, they’re mostly one-note and too many like Jack and Jeb relying on bad jokes. 

Sim is a dull villain with jokes about his weight and singing, and the would-be plot twist of Rico is more obvious now than it was then. All those plots and writers involved and they couldn’t produce any meaningful characters. 

The movie’s crew seem to agree this was the result of executive meddling by Disney and also heavily under promoted. Co-director Will Finn thinks it doesn’t deserve the hate it gets but Jon Sanford and Chris Buck have both spoken of not being proud of it. 

The box office failure of the film was pretty much the nail in the coffin for the hand-drawn era of Disney animation, especially as the company was undergoing some behind the scenes drama and shake ups. Yet does it deserve its hate?