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Disney continued to pursue Stokowski for film scores, but failed to get him to collaborate again. Disney held a screening of Fantasia in Hollywood on November 5, 1940, and a group of animators and musicians led by RKO Radio Pictures producer Norman Baruch attended the screening. Walt Disney provided the talents for the orchestra, and the cartoon short was reissued in the form of a synchronized music and animation feature, the first time the idea was used.
The short premiered at Hollywood's Mayan Theater on May 3, 1938, as part of the Academy Award ceremony. Disney felt that the short was a success, and learned that at a reception for the Academy in New York, Walt Disney Productions was the only filmmaker not represented at the event. The short was an instant hit, and was the only animated short included in the 1937 Academy Awards, earning Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. It also became the first animated film to have its music recorded on a commercial basis. The short became a part of the Fantasia short film series, and was the first full-length animated feature to be released in theaters. It became a successful release, and was screened throughout the world, often being presented in color. It was also screened at the 1939 New York World's Fair and at 1939's Venice Film Festival, before it was released in the United States on November 21, 1940.
The contract for the use of the music was signed on December 21, 1937, and Stokowski wrote the music, with the vocals recorded by a singer whose first name is unknown. In addition to conducting the musical score, Stokowski directed the animation, and hired a team of six assistants, including sound engineer and film editor Julian Johnson (who would later direct Fantasia in 1940). Johnson was so impressed with Stokowski's work that he hired him as an assistant animator. Stokowski and his assistants worked on the piece for a month before Disney decided to use it in the short. Disney was disappointed to learn that the music was inferior to that of his previous shorts, and that Stokowski would only record the piece because he wanted to avoid going into debt. He was also upset by the cost of renting the music and asked the orchestra to sell it to him at cost.
Disney previewed The Sorcerer's Apprentice in January 1939 at the Hollywood Theatre in New York, and then presented it in June at the New York World's Fair. The short was released theatrically on September 7, 1939, two days before the start of World War II. It was the studio's first short to be credited to Walt Disney, and was a financial success, grossing $425,000 at the box office and more than $3 million in rentals. Disney biographer Arnold Kraus believed that this success may have led to Disney's decision to leave the Walt Disney Studio and focus on animation. Today, The Sorcerer's Apprentice is widely considered to be one of the best of the Mickey Mouse series. 827ec27edc