Movie stills © MGM/UA & Mrs. Brisby Ltd. Photo of Don Bluth from Tribute article © Adam McDaniel 2003, 2009.
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This is a compilation of Q&As I submitted to Gary Goldman at, from 2003-2009. It also includes some excerpts posted from Goldman's answers to other people's questions; in such cases, I have credited the individual's name (whenever available), and highlighted the excerpt in red. For cohesion and clarity, the text has been edited together and presented here in Q&A format, strictly as an informational resource behind the making of the film.

From a discussion in 2007 regarding Fox's remastered DVD re-release:

AM: I was happy to learn that, a popular site about the entertainment industry, included a discussion of THE SECRET OF NIMH as part of their look back at 1982 as "the best genre year ever." (I'd volunteered to write about it, only to be informed that someone else was already on top of it!)

I was excited by the film's DVD re-release, but it wasn't given the comprehensive, deluxe, "all out" treatment that it deserved. Is there anything you wish could have been included that wasn't?

DBS: Actually, this re-release will not be the HD Blu-Ray release, but it will have the color corrections made by Gary (Goldman), and the new master was digitally cleaned up and ridded of scratches and dust by the technical people hired by Fox Home Entertainment (for MGM/UA). The HD version will come out later.

The folks at Fox Home Entertainment marketing have decided that this first re-release will not be the "25th Aniversary Edition," but a Fox Family Fun Edition, with a Fox Home Entertainment choice of cover art and an edited interview to service family audiences. It will also have a producer/director commentary over the film as part of the extras.

We provided the "Extras" producer with several links and leads to materials that could be used in the extras, but I do not believe that interviews were done with the likes of Dom DeLuise, or Wil Wheaton, or Shannen Doherty, or the beloved Derek Jacobi. That would have been great.

There are a lot of the animators who have gone on to have great careers and some have even directed animated features. Maybe for the HD Blu-Ray version we can get the extras producer to go after these contributors and expand the backstories of many of those involved.

Hopefully, you and all the other fans will enjoy the color-corrected remastered film, and the extras that have been made for this release. By the way, we haven't seen a release copy yet, only the remastered digital copy on professional equipment...but it looks great!

Question (credit: Philip Renda): I just read on The Digital Bits website that a remastered Special Edition of The Secret Of NIMH is going to be released on DVD on June 19....including both letterboxed and fullscreen versions, with deleted scenes and audio commentary....

DBS: Yes, NIMH has had a new master created and I (Gary Goldman) was there to supervise the color fixes. I don't know anything about "deleted scenes" being in the extras. I don't recall any deleted scenes in our first film. We were on a pretty tight schedule, in fact our schedule was even cut by 2 months, from 30 months down to 28 months, because the financiers and MGM/UA marketing wanted a fourth of July release. So everything we had done went on the screen. We usually try to edit at the storyboarding stage, before we spend money animating. The new color looks rich and saturated.

The new master is HD and has been digitally cleaned of film negative scratches and dust, however, a standard TV definition print-master has been created from the new digital master for this particular re-release and it is supposed to have a full screen and a 1:1.85 letterboxed version to choose from, plus a Don & Gary commentary and a short, on-camera interview.

I'm not aware of a 10 minute "making of" section or 5 set-top games. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is distributing for MGM/UA and this first release is called the "Fox Family Fun Edition". Hopefully, when they release the 16X9 HD Blu Ray version, it will be titled 25th Anniversary Edition and not necessarily be geared towards kids. We sure would like to see the packaging art stand out among all those other "family films".

Question (credit: Henrik Andersson): As much as I'm looking forward to the new DVD, it honestly hurts to see how MGM is treating it. That new cover is terrible -- since when is Jeremy blue? An idea could be to persuade them to make a two-sided cover, where you would design the other side and let the fans decide which one goes in their collection! ... The thing is that some of the lighting effects and colouring is pretty different in older and newer versions of the film.

DBS: Well, your comment seems to be the argument. But, we really do not hold the power to get the marketing people to agree with our artistic sensibilities. Maybe it's just our pride of product and feel that this release of the DVD should not be promoted as a "Family Fun Edition", and that it deserves either new packaging art or art that refects the product. Our recommendation was to use Tim Hildebrandt's original art for the theatrical poster for the new cover, with the quote "Right before your eyes and beyond your wildest dreams..." and reference to the 25th Anniversary. This was denied. They want something bright and colorful and "happy" or "fun"...sort of like all of the animated movies being distributed to little kids.

Our fear: that The Secret of NIMH will get lost in that sea of bright colors in the kiddy section of video stores and Wall Mart. Also, the reuse of the packaging art they have selected is the same as the most recent DVD release by MGM/UA and they won't move off the decision to use this art(???). We can only hope and pray that they will come to the same conclusion that using this art will be confusing to the buyer. (Are they getting the new remastered version or the same product in the 2000 release?)

We were not involved with approval of any of the MGM/UA's prior releases, neither the packaging art or the content. Fox Home Entertainment's involvement is the first time we've been invited in to supervise the remastering, which is great. But they are not interested in our opinion on the ad art. By the way, love your idea of a two-sided cover, so the buyer can decide which cover to use on their own copy in their video library. ... The new transfer is nicely saturated, with good contrast and looks better than the original theatrical release. We hope that the master duplication transfers consistantly to all of the DVD copies being distributed. We assume that it will.

AM: I wondered if you had originally developed your own potential sequel storyline for NIMH, and if so, would you be willing to shed a little light on it?

DBS: We've talked about it often but never actually wrote anything down.

Question (credit: Lenny Carson): I know you didn't have involvement in any of the ... sequels, but would you have ever considered working on them if you were asked?

DBS: In late 1987, early 1988, we were asked and we did consider a sequel to An American Tail, however, Universal wanted us to produce the film for the same price as the first one -- $9.6M. We were about 2/3 complete with The Land Before Time with a similar schedule and a higher budget, which allowed increases in salaries for our staff. For us to agree to the lower budget, we would have had to decrease salaries, or layoff about 35% of the staff. We declined to make the sequel. We understand that the sequel was made in London at a facility called Amblimation and/or Universal Cartoon at a cost of US$25M, plus fees on top of that for the executive producers.

We were not asked to be involved with any of The Land Before Time sequels. As you might know, we moved forward with All Dogs Go to Heaven, which we did for less than The Land Before Time (by only about $200K, but it was less).

In 1995, we were also asked to be involved with the sequel to The Secret of NIMH, however, we were busy on Anastasia for 20th Century Fox at the time. Aurora and MGM/UA proceeded with a completely different animation crew. So far, we've done no sequels for our films but we did do a sequel to the video game Dragon's Lair.***

(***NOTE: Though it wasn't a sequel, Don Bluth's team did make a direct-to-DVD "prequel" to Anastasia, titled Bartok the Magnificent.)

On July 28, 2009, it was announced that Paramount was developing a potential live-action & CGI version of the original Robert C. O'Brien novel. I immediately emailed Gary Goldman, asking him to comment:

AM: Reports have come in that Paramount is developing a remake of "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH", with THE ILLUSIONIST director Neil Burger writing the script. The project would likely involve CGI/live action, and be closer to the original book. I am both curious about and dreading this project -- if made, I'd hope the film would try to stand on its own creative terms and not replace the style and tone of what your film achieved. (Not unlike what the Tim Burton version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" did; it was a big hit, but also didn't tarnish or slight the beloved original.) Personally, of course I'd much rather see your team have the chance to produce a bona-fide, proper animated sequel... rather than a new team go back to an alternative drawing board. What are your thoughts? Could such a project rekindle interest in your original film? (Not that we've ever lost any interest!)

Goldman: Adam, thanks for taking the time to write. It's certainly creating a lot of publicity for the original, but this is disappointing. We've received a ton of email and questions to the 'ask us' page, here on the website (, and there seems to be a lot of discussion on blogs about this situation.

Aurora owned the license to the title and content of the book for Film & TV. I believe they dropped the ball when they missed the first theatrical with MGM/UA in 1989. I believe they were suppose to either organize sequels or releases of the original every 7 to 9 years to maintain the license. Aurora did a sequel based on O'Brien's daughter's book, but that was more than 10 years ago, and it didn't get a theatrical release.

For some reason, distributors think a film is supposed to be a box office smash to deserve a re-release. None seem to pay attention to what Disney did for decades, re-releasing films every seven years to catch the next generation families who could see the film on the big screen, even after the advent of home video. This model of repeat distribution brought profitability to many films that didn 't do that well in the first place, like Pinocchio and Bambi,which had the loss of international distribution due to the war. Even Fantasia, which ended up in the chain of Cinerama Domes every two years for a decade, finally became profitable with theatrical re-releasing.

Strange, but I really wish they'd re-release the classics to the big screen now. Even with big screen home entertainment, it still doesn't replace the big screen theater experience. We were devastated when Aurora and MGM/UA insisted on us delivering the film two months earlier than planned, back in 1982. Instead of a mid-August release, they wanted a 4th of July weekend opening, following the opening weekend of E.T and during the releases of Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn, Annie, Poltergeist and Rocky III, all box office blockbusters, we were buried. Had they allowed us to complete the film as originally scheduled, NIMH may have had a chance to make some real noise. It was a very crowded market, we couldn't get the best screens, and on top of that, David Begelman, chairman of MGM/UA, at the time, didn't like animation, and, didn't think anyone could sell animation except Disney, and refused to spend a penny of MGM/UA ad funds on its opening.

Aurora Productions raised $4.2M for prints and ads and during an audit in 1983, they discovered $600,000 still in the NIMH 'Print and Ad' account at MGM/UA. Further, MGM/UA did some sort of weird "roll-out" campaign, opening on the west coast and Hawaii only, with 127 theaters - mostly multiplexes with screens not much larger than some home theaters now, then rolled the film across the country, with a final max of 670 theaters. Definitely no attempt to make it an "event" picture.

We were seeking a PG rating, Aurora campaigned for a "G". When we received the G rating, my oldest son, Kip, (who was 12 years old) complained that none of his friends would go to the film, that they wouldn't be caught dead in a "G" rated film. Ah...puberty! He claimed that a PG rating would have won the hearts of the teens and the darkness of the film would be very appealing to them. Those same issues would discourage families with young children, for fear it might cause nightmares. Even the critics made comments on the film's dark moments in the film, and that it may be frightening to young children. However, the critics' did support the film, and other than them, NIMH was the best kept secret in Hollywood. Strange, we thought we were making a family film for the child in all of us, a film for an audience eight to eighty.

Still, of the films we've made, NIMH still remains our favorite. There's a lot of love and plenty of blood and sweat that went into that film. We had a great team, a small group of animators, 11 of us and 5 FX animators, a wonderful dedicated team of assistants and cleanup artists, three background artist, one layout artist and 45 dedicated cel painters, who picked up scenes and painted in their homes. It was just what we thought it would be, a wonderful experience of learning, experimenting and driving for some sort of renewed excellence in animation.

I agree with you. We hope that this remake of the book is well-done, and that it maintains its own integrity and does not replace the original.