Don Bluth (born September 13, 1937) is a former Disney animator who set out on his own in the early 1980s to start his own animation studio. His style is rougher and more lively than Disney's, and his films tend to have a mystical element to them. Much of his early work still has devoted fans today.
At Disney in the 1970s he was an animator on Robin Hood, The Rescuers, and Pete's Dragon. Afterwards he left Disney and independently produced a short film titled Banjo the Woodpile Cat as a demonstration of his ability, and this led to work on an animated segment of the live-action film Xanadu (1980) and his most noteworthy film, The Secret of NIMH (1982).
Teaming up with Rick Dyer, he created the groundbreaking arcade video game Dragon's Lair (1983), which let the player control a cartoon-animated character on screen (whose adventures were played off a laserdisc). This was followed in 1984 by Space Ace, a science-fiction game based on the same technology, but which gave the player a choice of different routes to take through the story; and Dragon's Lair II, a sequel which was very rare in arcades.
His next two films, An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988), did moderately well in theaters and each launched a line of sequels (most of which were released direct-to-video, and none of which Bluth worked on). But by the end of the decade and through the 1990s, Bluth films had dropped significantly in quality and box office returns: All Dogs Go to Heaven, Rock-A-Doodle, Thumbelina, A Troll in Central Park, The Pebble and the Penguin, and the science-fiction film Titan A.E. His Anastasia (1997) found slightly more popularity by using well-known Hollywood stars as its voice talent and by sticking closer to long-proven Disney formulas (a sassy and resourceful princess driven to become more than she is, a cruel and conniving villain who uses dark magic, and a comic-relief sidekick).
A recent attempt to capitalize on Dragon's Lair nostalgia by releasing the video game Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair (2002) was unsuccessful; the game was panned by critics as being flat and uninteresting.