DELL RAPIDS, SD –
Dell Rapids is aglow in the red-carpet spotlight with the upper Midwest premier of an independent movie that’s getting rave reviews.
The film is called Walt Before Mickey. It’s the true-to-life tale of Walt Disney’s early struggles to launch his career that would lead to one of the most profitable entertainment brands in the world. This Disney-Dells cinematic connection is expecting to lead to box office success in South Dakota.
Walt Disney’s early efforts at building an animation empire were far from the charmed fantasyland that would become his entertainment trademark.
“At that point, he had borrowed all the money he can borrow from everybody he knew, leveraged his house, borrowed money from his brother again, his uncle, it got to the point that if he failed with this one, that was probably it. But it worked out for him,” film co-producer Armando Gutierrez said.
It was Disney’s drive to succeed in spite of so many obstacles that drew two independent film producers from Florida to this project.
“When we did the research on Walt, we did it like he did: low-budget, always pushing, take it to the next level,” film co-producer Arthur L. Bernstein said.
The producers’ chance run-in with the owner of the Dells Theatre during a movie convention in Las Vegas led to an invitation to bring the movie to South Dakota.
“And Armando and I literally bumped into each other and started a conversation and it all spiraled out of that. So I think it was meant to be,” Dells Theatre owner Jeff Logan said.
The Dells Theatre dates way back to 1938, so this is an ideal venue to tell the story of Walt Disney’s early days of animation.
“This is very similar to the theater where Walt was trying to show ‘Plain Crazy’ when no one wanted to show ‘Plain Crazy’ because no one knew who Mickey Mouse was,” Gutierrez said.
The film is based upon the book titled Walt Before Mickey. The production has no connection to the Disney corporation.
“It’s not about the company, it’s about the man and his vision and how he started it all,” Bernstein said.
And the film’s producers want to share their own vision starring a man and a mouse, and now Dell Rapids.
“It’s a small town, Walt Disney’s from a small town and we felt this would be a great place to have a Midwest premier,” Bernstein said.
Walt Before Mickey also plays in Mitchell and Huron this weekend.