Based on the novel by T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone (also known in some places as Merlin the Magician) is Walt Disney's 18 animated feature.
It was the last film in which Bill Peet would work as a writer. Peet, who had worked for Disney as a writer and character designer would leave the studio just before the production of The Jungle Book (his original screenplay was scrapped) when his relationship with Walt started falling apart.
But it would eventually be the last feature that Walt would see completed. Although he was very active in the production of this movie, Walt would never be able to see it screened in theatres. Due to lung cancer, he died just a year before The Jungle Book's release.
Walt's brother Roy would take over Walt Disney Productions .
The Sword in the Stone was also affected by Sleeping Beauty's commercial failure in 1959, and the film's production had a very tight budget. As its predecessor, The Sword in the Stone was animated using the Xerox Technology of scanning, so the aesthetics of this feature are very similar to those of 101 Dalmatians.Walt didn't like this style very much, although it was a lot cheaper, and for this reason in the upcoming film, The Jungle Book, the lines were cleaned up a bit more with less lines visible.
To save time and money, the movies from the 60's are known for having a lot of recycled animation. This means that Disney animators used bits of previous films (or previously animated scenes) as guides for some of the scenes in the next production. This way, there are scenes in Sword in the Stone that have been animated using scenes from Sleeping beauty, and some of the scenes from this film were evidently used in Jungle Book.
The songs from this film were written by the Sherman Brothers, the first time that this awesome duo composed music for an animated feature (They also wrote the songs for Marry Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Jungle Book and many songs for Disney's amusement parks).
The film was a financial success at the box office and the sixth highest grossing film of 1963 in North America, earning estimated rentals of $4.75 million