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Promotional poster
Directed by Ron Clements
John Musker
Produced by Ron Clements
John Musker
Written by Ron Clements
John Musker
Barry Johnson
Narrated by Charlton Heston
Starring Tate Donovan
Danny DeVito
James Woods
Susan Egan
Rip Torn
Music by Alan Menken
David Zippel
Editing by Tom Finan
Robert Hedland
Studio Walt Disney Feature Animation
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Buena Vista Distribution
Release date(s) June 27, 1997
Running time 93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $85 million
Gross revenue $252,712,101
Followed by Hercules: Zero to Hero

Hercules is a 1997 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The thirty-fifth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. The film is based on the legendary Greek mythology hero Heracles (known in the film by his Roman name, Hercules), the son of Zeus, in Greek mythology.

Though Hercules did not match the financial success of Disney's early-1990s releases, the film received positive reviews,[1] and made $99 million in revenue in the United States during its theatrical release and $252,700,000 worldwide.[2]

Hercules was later followed by the direct-to-video prequel Hercules: Zero to Hero, which served as a midquel to Hercules: The Animated Series, a syndicated Disney TV series focusing on Hercules during his time at the Prometheus academy.



Long after Zeus, ruler of the Greek gods of Olympus, defeats the Titans and locks them deep in the bowels of the earth, he and his wife Hera give birth to a son, Hercules. All the gods of Olympus celebrate Hercules's birth except for Zeus's jealous brother Hades, who was forced by Zeus to work as lord of the dead in the Underworld, and seeks to overthrow his brother. Hades learns from the Fates that in eighteen years, a planetary alignment will reveal the location of where the Titans are trapped, allowing him to free them and take over Olympus, but only if Hercules doesn't interfere. Hades sends his minions Pain and Panic to kidnap Hercules, bring him to Earth, and kill him after giving him a potion that will turn him mortal. However, Pain and Panic are unable to give Hercules the entire potion which, while still making him mortal, allows him to retain his godlike strength. Hercules is then found by a farmer and his wife, who raise him as their own son.

Over the next eighteen years, Hercules grows up into a misfit, his strength seen as a nuisance to all the locals. After being dejected by the townsfolk when he accidentally destroys the marketplace, Hercules questions where he truly belongs. His foster parents reveal how they found him with a medallion bearing the symbol of the gods, so Hercules travels to the temple of Zeus, where the almighty god's statue comes to life and reveals his past and true lineage. Zeus explains that Hercules can become a god again and return to Olympus if he can become a true hero, so he sets out on his old childhood friend Pegasus to find the satyr Philoctetes—"Phil" for short—a trainer of heroes. Phil has long-since retired after failing to train a successful hero, but is convinced to train Hercules.

After his training is complete, Hercules sets out with Phil and Pegasus to the city of Thebes to prove his newfound worth. Along the way, Hercules saves a woman named Megara—"Meg" for short—from being pestered by the centaur Nessus, and becomes attracted to her. Unbeknownst to Hercules, Meg is in league with Hades after selling her soul to save a man she once loved, but had left her for another woman. Discovering Hercules to still be alive, Hades sets up a trap for him outside of Thebes where he is forced to battle the Hydra. However, Hercules manages to defeat the Hydra, and is praised by all of Thebes as a hero. Hercules is treated like a celebrity, but Zeus informs him that he is not a true hero yet.

Meg is sent by Hades to find Hercules's weakness, but she falls in love with him instead. Phil discovers Meg to be working for Hades and attempts to warn Hercules, but abandons him after an argument ensues. Realizing that Meg is Hercules's weakness, Hades uses her to make a deal with Hercules in which he must give up his powers for an entire day in exchange for Meg's safety. Of course, Hades uses this time to free the Titans and take over Olympus, and Hercules, crushed by Meg's deception, loses the will to fight. One of the Titans, a Cyclops, is sent to Thebes to eliminate Hercules. Meg convinces Phil to return to Hercules, motivating him into battling and defeating the Cyclops through improvisation. However, Meg is mortally wounded by a falling column to save Hercules, though it breaks Hades's deal of Meg not being harmed and restores Hercules's powers, allowing him to defeat the Titans. Unfortunately, he is too late to save Meg from dying.

Hercules confronts Hades in the Underworld and offers his soul to reclaim Meg's. Hades accepts, but only if Hercules can reclaim it in the River Styx, which gradually saps his life force as he swims. However, his will to sacrifice his life for Meg awakens Hercules as a true hero and restores his status as an immortal god. Hercules successfully retrieves Meg's soul and punches Hades into the River Styx, where he is dragged to the depths by vengeful souls. Hercules returns Meg's soul to her body and brings her back to life, and is brought to Olympus where the gods welcome him back into his old home. However, Hercules is unable to live without Meg, and Zeus allows him to stay on Earth as a mortal to stay with the one he loves. Zeus creates a constellation of Hercules in the night sky, allowing the world to hail him as a true hero.



Production for the film took place from the fall of 1995 to early 1997.


Design and animation

Each major character in Hercules had a supervising animator. Andreas Deja, the supervising animator for Hercules, commented that the animation crew he worked with to animate Hercules was the "largest [he] ever worked with". He previously worked on other characters (like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin, and Scar in The Lion King) with about four animators on his crew, but he had a team of twelve or thirteen for Hercules. He cited Greek statues and artist Gerald Scarfe's work in Pink Floyd The Wall as references. With regard to Megara, supervising animator Ken Duncan stated that she was "based on a '40s screwball comedienne" and that he used Greek shapes for her hair ("Her head is in sort of a vase shape and she's got a Greek curl in the back.") Nik Ranieri, the supervising animator for Hades, mentioned that the character was "based on a Hollywood agent, a car salesman type", and that a lot came from James Woods' ad-libbed dialogue. He went on to say that the hardest part in animating Hades was that he talks too much and too fast, so much so that "it took [him] two weeks to animate a one-second scene". Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for Philoctetes, cited Grumpy in Snow White and Bacchus in Fantasia as the inspirations for the character's design.[3]

The actors' performances also influenced the way the characters were animated. Deja integrated Donovan's "charming yet innocent quality" into Hercules' expressions. Goldberg mentioned that they discovered that Danny DeVito "has really different mouth shapes" when they videotaped his recordings and that they used these shapes in animating Phil. Ranieri watched James Woods' other films and used what he saw as the basis for Hades' sneer.[3]




Marketing and promotion for Hercules began even before the film's theatrical release. Several Hercules toys, books, and other merchandise were produced,[4] and a parade was held at Times Square during the film's premiere two weeks prior to its theatrical run.[5] Hercules was also received the first Disney on Ice adaptation before the film was theatrically released.[6] A tie-in video game, titled Hercules Action Game, was developed by Eurocom and released in July 1997 for the PC and PlayStation.[7]

Home media

The film's first home video release, on VHS, was February 3, 1998 in the US as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection series. A Limited Issue came out on DVD November 9, 1999, followed by on August 1, 2000, a re-issue to VHS and DVD as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection.


Disney intended for the film to have an open-air premiere at Pnyx hill, but the Greek government declined after Greek media and public panned the film. A Greek newspaper entitled Adsmevtos Typos called it "another case of foreigners distorting our history and culture just to suit their commercial interests".[8]

After a one-theater release in June 15, 1997, Hercules had its wide release on June 27, 1997. With an opening weekend of $21,454,451, it opened at the second spot of the box office, after Face/Off.[9] The film grossed only $99 million on its domestic lifetime, something Disney's executives blamed on "more competition".[10] The international totals for Hercules raised its gross to $253 million.[2]

Critical reception

As of 2008, Rotten Tomatoes reported that 83% of critics gave positive reviews based on 48 reviews[1].

Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a positive review of the film, enjoying the story as well as the animation. Ebert also praised James Woods' portrayal of Hades, stating that Woods brings "something of the same verbal inventiveness that Robin Williams brought to Aladdin".[11]

Awards and nominations

  • Blockbuster Entertainment Awards[15]
  • Favorite Animated Family Movie (Nominated)
  • Favorite Song from a Movie - "Go the Distance" (Nominated)
Result Award Winner/Nominee Recipient(s)
Nominated Animated Theatrical Feature
Won Individual Achievement in Producing Alice Dewey (Producer)
John Musker (Producer)
Ron Clements (Producer)
Won Individual Achievement in Directing John Musker (Director)
Ron Clements (Director)
Nominated Individual Achievement in Character Animation Ken Duncan (Supervising Animator - Meg)
Won Individual Achievement in Character Animation Nik Ranieri (Supervising Animator - Hades)
Won Individual Achievement in Effects Animation Mauro Maressa (Effects Supervisor)


  1. ^ a b "Hercules (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  2. ^ a b "Hercules (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Quick Draw Artists". Disney Adventures: 44–49. September 1997. 
  4. ^ Grossman, Wendy (June 26, 1997). "Disney flexes marketing muscle for Hercules". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  5. ^ Gest, Emily (June 10, 1997). "DISNEY'S READY TO ROLL WITH HERCULEAN LABOR". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  6. ^ Wasko, Janet (2001). Understanding Disney: the manufacture of fantasy. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 0745614841. 
  7. ^ Disney's Hercules at Eurocom
  8. ^ Byrne, Ciaran; Julia Llewelyn Smith (October 9, 1997). "Greeks put Hercules on trial". The Nation: C6, C8.,3065624. 
  9. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for June 27-29, 1997 - Box Office Mojo
  10. ^ Hercules Is Too Weak to Lift Disney Stock, The New York Times
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (1997-6-27). "Hercules review". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-1-4. 
  12. ^ "1997 (70th)". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  13. ^ "HFPA Awards Search". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  14. ^ "Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: 1998". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  15. ^ "Blockbuster Entertainment Awards: 1998". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  16. ^ "Nineteenth Annual Youth in Film Awards 1996-1997". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 

External links

Simple English

Hercules is an animated Disney movie. It is based on the Greek legend of Hercules, but it is very different than the original story. It was more like Superman, Rocky and The Karate Kid. Unlike most Disney movies, it had a very different style due to the fact that the British cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, (who designed the movie, Pink Floyd The Wall) helped make the movie.


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