The Care Bears Movie is a 1985 Canadian-American animated fantasy film and the second feature film from the Canadian animation studio Nelvana. One of the first films based directly on a toy line, it introduced the Care Bears characters and their companions the Care Bear Cousins.[nb 2] In the film, an orphanage owner (Mickey Rooney) tells a story about the Care Bears, who live in a cloud-filled land called Care-a-Lot. Traveling across Earth, the Bears help two lonely children named Kim and Jason, who lost their parents in a car accident, and also save a young magician's apprentice named Nicholas from an evil spirit's influence. Deep within a place called the Forest of Feelings, Kim, Jason, and their friends soon meet another group of creatures, the Care Bear Cousins.
American Greetings, the owners of the Care Bears characters, began development of a feature film adaptation in 1981. Later on, the card company chose Nelvana to produce it, granted them rights to the characters, and financed the film along with cereal manufacturer General Mills and television syndicator LBS Communications. Nelvana's founders served as producers, while fellow employee Arna Selznick directed the film. Production lasted eight months, with a production budget of at least $2 million, and took place in Canada, Taiwan, and South Korea. The voice cast included Mickey Rooney, Georgia Engel, Jackie Burroughs and Cree Summer. Two pop music stars, Carole King and John Sebastian, contributed several songs. Although major American film studios passed on the project, newly established independent distributor The Samuel Goldwyn Company acquired the distribution rights to the film and soon spent a record $24 million promoting it.
The film premiered on March 24, 1985, in Washington, D.C., and was released in North America on March 29, 1985.[nb 3] Another Nelvana work, Strawberry Shortcake Meets the Berrykins, played alongside the feature in theatres. The Care Bears Movie received mixed reviews from critics, who raised concern over its potential as a full-length advertisement for the title characters among other aspects. It went on to earn $23 million domestically; as Canada's highest-grossing film during 1985 (with C$1.845 million), it won a Golden Reel Award. With over $34 million in worldwide sales, it set a box-office record for Canadian and non-Disney animation, and has remained one of Goldwyn's largest-earning releases. The film's success saved Nelvana from closing and helped revive films aimed at children in the US market. It has since been cited as inspiring a spate of toy-based animated and live-action features. It was soon followed by two sequels, A New Generation (1986) and Adventure in Wonderland (1987); neither surpassed the original financially or critically. The Care Bears franchise continues and has included television series, specials, videos, and films.