Seeking to dethrone Disney as the king of animated features, a young mouse named Fievel roared into theaters in 1986's An American Tail. Former Disney animator Don Bluth directed and Steven Spielberg produced this heartwarming tale of an immigrant family of mice sailing into New York near the turn of the century.
Fievel Mousekewitz and family, suffering under the oppressive rule of Czarist cats, decide to flee to supposedly cat-free America. At sea, Fievel gets swept away during a storm, washing ashore inside a glass bottle. While the rest of the Mousekewitz clan adjusts to the new land (which, they discover, is most certainly not cat-free) and mourns their lost child, Fievel wanders the streets trying to find his family.
The plucky young mouse makes new friends, including a cowardly cat named Tiger, and some not-so-friendly types who try to drag him into the criminal world. Meanwhile, the mice band together under wealthy mouse Gussie Mausheimer to fight the control of the cats, ready to decide for themselves what kind of land this America will be.
The film was Spielbergís first animated production, and he and Bluth hoped to re-create the visual splendor of early Disney cartoons like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Pinocchio. Mixing traditional techniques with computer-assisted animation, Bluth and his team created a rich, detailed cityscape, elaborate production numbers, and slam-bang chase sequences.
Audiences loved the film, making it the most successful animated film up to that time. A theatrical sequel followed in 1991, then an animated series, Fievelís American Tails, one year later.