Excerpts from an online chat
with Don Bluth Studios

by Adam McDaniel

Movie stills © MGM/UA
Photo of Don Bluth from
Text © Adam McDaniel 2003 & 2008


AM: I'm happy to learn that, a popular site about the entertainment industry, will soon be including 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!)

Naturally, we're all very excited about the film's upcoming DVD re-release, and hope that it's given the comprehensive, deluxe, "all out" treatment that it deserves. Any news or details to share with us yet? "Making of" interviews with the animators and surviving voice cast? 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.

Part I: Reflections on the Film
Part II: About the Cast
Part III: About the Script
Part IV: About the Music
Part V: The Remastered DVD Release

This is a compilation of Q&As I submitted to Gary Goldman at, from 2003-2007. 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.