Merchandise tie-ins are a given today but we may not realize just how far back they go. Walt Disney especially liked to release promotional ephemera and toys to push whatever movie he was releasing at a given time. Walt is gone but the Mighty Mouse marches on and so Disney the Company continues the tradition!
I for one am glad they do! In 1979, The Black Hole had a production budget of $20 million, plus another $6 million for advertising. See what I mean about promotion? It was the most expensive picture ever produced by Disney to that time.
I love finding merchandise that was released in concert with the production it was designed to promote. Re-released items can be cool, but to me, a piece of original memorabilia from back in the day is always more valuable.
This is a fairly faithful adaption of the movie but with the more graphic elements removed. For example, Dr. Alex Durant is not impaled by Maximilian in this comic version, but simple shot by Dr. Hans Reinhardt. The ending is also condensed with all of the psychedelic elements of the trip through the Black Hole removed. The sense of wonder at what they find is also watered down as they instantly accept finding a whole new Universe and decide to explore it before returning home, which V.I.N.CENT claims is an easy thing to do! Really? Okay.
The iconic scene where the meteor crashes into the ship and rolls towards the protagonists as they try desperately to escape is also missing from this adaption, as is the melding of Dr. Hans Reinhardt and Maximilian.
The artwork is competent with the backgrounds, mechanical elements, and robot characters being rendered very well. The human characters, however, are poorly done! I understand that the likenesses likely were not be used due to contractual restraints, but why are the faces so grotesque? Faces are ugly and most often distorted. The faces of the actors are included on the front and back covers.
The splash pages are spectacular with Space itself being rendered superbly. Images of the Black Hole aren’t given any real energy, though, which is a shame considering it is basically the main character.
Being as the movie itself was released in the United States on December 21, 1979, it is likely that this adaption, also dated 1979, was released earlier in the year to drum up interest.
The review site Rotten Tomatoes says about The Black Hole: “While lavishly crafted and brimming with ambitious ideas, The Black Hole probes the depths of space with an unexciting story and hokey melodrama.” I don’t agree. I think it was a fun ride with an interesting theme and subplots, although I will admit it does have a very noticeable Disney flavour.
For more fun with Black Holes, much more fun than a White Dwarf Star says I, check out The Black Hole Record Book that I also have in my collection and on this site. Seriously, who would watch a movie called The White Dwarf?