I’ve been reading the book Walt Disney, The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler. It’s both well-researched and compelling; I find it hard to put down.
Around 1930, Mickey Mouse was becoming a phenomenon around the world, with movies, a comic strip, a club, and more, but the Disney studios were still having a hard time paying for all their expenses. Some folks suggested that they cut costs by reducing the quality of their films, but…
In Walt’s eyes, his studio was not to be subject to the pressures of the world; it was his refuge from them—a sacred place. And his animations could not be compromised; they had to be better than anyone else’s or he would not survive in the business; nor would he want to survive. Excellence was not only Walt’s business strategy, it was the reason he ran the studio and the force that kept his personal world intact. “If you want to know the real secret of Walt’s success,” longtime animator Ward Kimball would say, “it’s that he never tried to make money. He was always trying to make something that he could have fun with or be proud of.”
Source: Walt Disney, The Triumph of the American Imagination, page 161.