Thumbelina (1994 film)

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Theatrical release poster by John Alvin.
Directed by
Screenplay byDon Bluth
Based onThumbelina
by Hans Christian Andersen
Produced by
Edited byFiona Trayler
Music by
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 30, 1994 (1994-03-30) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$28 million[1]
Box office$17 million

Thumbelina (also known as Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina) is a 1994 American independent[2] animated musical fantasy film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. The film stars the voices of Jodi Benson, Gary Imhoff and John Hurt, with supporting roles from Gino Conforti, Charo, Gilbert Gottfried, Carol Channing and Joe Lynch.[3]

The film, produced by Don Bluth Ireland Ltd. and distributed by Warner Bros. under its Family Entertainment imprint, was released in theaters on March 30, 1994. The film was a box-office bomb, grossing only $17 million from a $28 million budget, and received mixed to negative reviews from critics.[4][5]


A lonely widow longing for a child of her own is given a barley seed by a friendly witch. The planted seed grows into a flower, and a tiny girl emerges from inside, no bigger than the old woman's thumb. The old woman names the tiny girl Thumbelina and raises her as her own. Although Thumbelina loves her mother, she craves companionship from someone her own size. One night, the fairy prince Cornelius stumbles upon Thumbelina after hearing her singing. He is the first person whom she has ever met who is roughly her own size. The two take a ride on Cornelius' bumblebee and fall in love. During this ride, Mrs. Toad and her son Grundel are enchanted by the singing. That night, Mrs. Toad kidnaps Thumbelina, desiring her to join the troupe and marry Grundel as her husband. Thumbelina is rescued by Jacquimo, a swallow. Meanwhile, Cornelius learns of her being kidnapped, and returns to his kingdom, the Vale of the Fairies, to ask his parents to try holding back the winter as long as they can, but they can only hold it for a day.

Grundel learns that Thumbelina escaped and ventures out to find her. While trying to get home, Thumbelina meets Berkeley Beetle, a singer who promises to show her the way home if she sings at his Beetle Ball. She reluctantly complies, but her bug disguise falls off during the concert, and she is denounced as "ugly" as well as being publicly humiliated in front of the audience. Beetle rejects her without helping her. She is next found by Jacquimo, who promises to find Cornelius. Beetle is confronted by Grundel and suggests that Grundel kidnap Cornelius and use him as a meal to lure Thumbelina. Grundel coerces Beetle into partnership by removing his wings.

Upon the arrival of winter, Jacquimo injures his wing and loses consciousness from the freezing, while Cornelius falls into a pond by wind and gets frozen. Beetle finds Cornelius and takes him to Grundel. Thumbelina is forced to take refuge in an old shoe, where she is discovered by Miss Fieldmouse and granted shelter in her underground house. After relaying Cornelius' fate to her, Miss Fieldmouse introduces her to her neighbor Mr. Mole, who becomes infatuated with her and desires to marry her. Devastated by the apparent loss of Cornelius, Thumbelina gives in to hopelessness and accepts Mr. Mole's proposal. Jacquimo revives and, before Thumbelina can get a chance to explain to him what happened to Cornelius, resolves to find him before the wedding.

Beetle tells Grundel of Thumbelina's wedding. When they leave Cornelius behind, a trio of friendly insect children find and thaw Cornelius back to normal. At the wedding, Thumbelina finds herself unable to marry Mr. Mole after remembering Cornelius' promise to always love her. Grundel and Beetle arrive to stop them, and a chase scene ensues. Cornelius also arrives and engages Grundel in a fight, which culminates with the two falling into a hole. Thumbelina escapes on a pile of Mr. Mole's treasure, causing it to fall at Mr. Mole and the wedding guests. Jacquimo finds the Vale of the Fairies and takes Thumbelina there. She and Cornelius reunite, and she magically grows her own pair of wings upon accepting his proposal and kissing him. With her mother and the fairy court in attendance, the two marry and depart on Cornelius' bumblebee.

The credits images reveal that Beetle's wings regrew, and he resumed his pop career; Grundel has survived the fall with a broken leg and finally married a female toad to his mom's delight, and Mr. Mole married Miss Fieldmouse.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Jodi Benson as Thumbelina, a tiny young girl who is not as big as her biological mother's thumb and falls in love with the handsome fairy prince Cornelius.
  • Gary Imhoff as Prince Cornelius, the Prince of the Fairies and Thumbelina's love interest.
  • Joe Lynch as Grundel Toad, a lustful toad in love with Thumbelina
  • Gino Conforti as Jacquimo, a wise swallow who speaks with a French accent. He is the partial narrator of the story.
  • Gilbert Gottfried as Berkeley Beetle, a beetle singer who owns his own "beetle band" and a so-called "connoisseur of sweet nectars, a designer of rare threads, and a judge of beautiful women". He is forced by Grundel to help him to find Thumbelina.
  • Carol Channing as Ms. Fieldmouse, a seemingly kind but rather greedy field mouse who takes Thumbelina in from the cold and persuades her to marry Mr. Mole.
  • John Hurt as Mr. Mole, a fabulously wealthy but self-involved and cynical mole who falls in love with Thumbelina after hearing her voice.
  • Barbara Cook as Thumbelina's Mother, the kind widow who mothers Thumbelina since her birth from a flower.
  • Charo as Mrs. Toad, a glamorous and famous Spanish singer and mother to her three sons Mozo, Gringo, and Grundel.
  • Kenneth Mars as King Colbert, Cornelius' father.
  • June Foray as Queen Tabitha, Cornelius' mother.
  • Will Ryan as Hero Dog and Reverend Rat. Additionally, Ryan, along with Louise Vallance, voiced multiple background characters, including several beetles, barnyard animals, and other various insects.
  • Danny Mann as Mozo, Grundel's younger brother.
  • Loren Lester as Gringo, Grundel's younger brother.
  • Pat Musick as Mrs. Rabbit
  • Neil Ross as Mr. Bear, Mr. Fox
  • Tawny Sunshine Glover as Gnatty, one of the jitterbugs.
  • Michael Nunes as Li'l Bee, one of the jitterbugs.
  • Kendall Cunningham as Baby Bug, one of the jitterbugs.
  • Tony Jay (uncredited) as a bull on the farm of Thumbelina's mother.


Barry Manilow agreed to compose the songs for three Don Bluth pictures. Thumbelina was the first, followed by The Pebble and the Penguin, and the third, a retelling of the story of Rapunzel, in which Manilow would also have a voice role, was canceled. The film's soundtrack was released for a limited time and has since gone out of print. "Marry the Mole" won the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song.

Production and release[edit]

Thumbelina was in production from February 1991 to May 1993 at Don Bluth Ireland Ltd. (formerly known as Sullivan Bluth Studios at that time) in Dublin, Ireland, even though principal recording and animation would not begin until early 1992.[6] The film was completed with funds from filmmaker John Boorman and Hong Kong-based Media Assets after Don Bluth Entertainment filed for bankruptcy.[7]

It was originally scheduled to be distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in North America and J&M Entertainment overseas, and was also originally slated for a Thanksgiving 1993 release in the United States. However, by the time it was completed, both companies dropped the arrangement due to concerns about the bankruptcy of Bluth's studio. During Sullivan Bluth's bankruptcy proceedings, the court trustee presented the film to Disney's film distribution unit, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. The trustee ultimately declined Disney's offer to distribute the film as they were also trying to find a new owner for the studio.[8]

Warner Bros.[a] bought the distribution rights on March 15, 1993, and Thumbelina was released on March 30, 1994.[9][5] When released, it was preceded by the Animaniacs short, I'm Mad.


Box office[edit]

The film was a commercial failure, grossing $11.4 million at the US and Canadian box office.[10] In 24 markets internationally it grossed $5.2 million[11] for a worldwide total of at least $16.6 million against a budget of $28 million.

Critical reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 40% approval rating based on 15 reviews, with an average score of 5.4 out of 10.[12]

James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film 3 out of 4 and wrote: "Thumbelina is close to, but not quite at, the level of The Little Mermaid, the weakest of Disney's recent entries".[13] Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, concluding his review: "It is difficult to imagine anyone over the age of 12 finding much to enjoy in Thumbelina".[14]

It won a Golden Raspberry Award in the category of "Worst Original Song" given to "Marry the Mole", sung by Carol Channing.[15] It was also the only animated film to win a stand-alone Razzie until 2017's The Emoji Movie, which won the awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo, and Worst Screenplay at the 38th Golden Raspberry Awards.

The film reportedly received higher scores during test screenings, where Warner Bros. replaced their logo with that of Walt Disney Pictures.[16]

Home media[edit]

Warner Home Video released Thumbelina on VHS and LaserDisc on July 26, 1994, in the United States and Canada and internationally throughout the 1990s. The film was re-released on VHS in the United Kingdom on March 20, 1995. Warner Home Video released the film on DVD on September 21, 1999.[17]

Thumbelina was re-released on VHS and DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on February 19, 2002 and on Blu-ray on March 6, 2012.

The film was available to view on Disney+ when it launched on November 12, 2019,[18] following Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox earlier that year.[19] It has been intermittently available on the service since then.[20] It was also available to view on Disney+ via the international brand Star when Star was launched on October 27, 2021 in Japan.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In 2002, Warner Bros. sold the copyright of the film to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Currently, the rights are now owned by The Walt Disney Company.


  1. ^ Gary Goldman at Archived 2009-07-21 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. p. 208. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  4. ^ "(Movie listings)". The Capital Times. Vol. 154, no. 92. Madison, WI. March 29, 1994. p. 3D. Retrieved December 15, 2019. Thumbelina – starts tomorrow [March 30]
  5. ^ a b "(movie listings)". The Los Angeles Times. March 30, 1994. p. F13oc. Retrieved December 15, 2019. (21 listings)
  6. ^ Kelly, John F. (January 10, 1992). "Getting Along Swimmingly". Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 15, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2019.(subscription required)
  7. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (November 12, 1992). "Merlin's magic may animate DBE". Variety.
  8. ^ "Behind the Scenes". Don Bluth Films. Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  9. ^ Ayscough, Suzan (Mar 15, 1993). "Bluth's toons drawn to WB". Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  10. ^ "Thumbelina (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  11. ^ Groves, Don (August 8, 1994). "Big U.S. pix fight for o'seas B.O.". Variety. p. 19.
  12. ^ "Thumbelina". Rotten Tomatoes. 30 March 1994. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Reelviews Movie Reviews". Archived from the original on 2008-07-05.
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 30, 1994). "Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  15. ^ "1994 RAZZIE Nominees & "Winners"". The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. 2005-12-04. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  16. ^ Horn, John (June 1, 1997). "Can Anyone Dethrone Disney?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Thumbelina DVD Release Date March 21, 1999". Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  18. ^ "Every Disney movie, TV show available day one on Disney+". 14 October 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-12-06. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  19. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (March 19, 2019). "Disney Closes $71 Billion 21st Century Fox Deal". Variety. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  20. ^ "What's Left Disney+ In July (US)". What's on Disney Plus. July 1, 2020. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  21. ^ "スター作品ラインナップ|Disney+ (ディズニープラス) 公式". Disney+. Retrieved November 4, 2021.

External links[edit]