Lately I have been wondering, if a movie is released in theaters with an animated short, is it better for the short to come with a movie that the studio has a lot of faith in, or one that the studio does not expect to be a big hit?
Recently I read a quote from Paul Terry, saying that in the golden age of theatrical animation, people enjoyed cartoons but would still pay to see the movie if it did not have a cartoon short at the beginning, citing that as why studios eventually did away with shorts. I thought shorts were a big selling point back when it was a regular thing (I think I've read that Columbia refused to let theaters screen their Three Stooges shorts unless they agreed to also show Columbia's b-movies).
In the late 1980s and 1990s, there was a time when movies would occasionally come with a short cartoon, it seems like it varied in whether the shorts were advertised in commercials for the films. At least with the Disney and WB films to come with shorts, it seems like many of them failed at the box office, though I am unsure if this was the case with them all. The first Roger Rabbit short came with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which was a big hit at the box office (in the top 5 for 1989) but which did a lot better than Disney had anticipated (was it more for the short or for the film's concept?). The other movies to open with Roger Rabbit shorts - Dick Tracy and A Far Away Place - did poorly at the box office (while I have not seen it, I am surprised Dick Tracy didn't do very well at the box office, seems like something that should have been a hit, but I guess I am not surprised by A Far Away Place, I wanted to see that for the Roger Rabbit short and don't think I really wanted to see the movie otherwise).
With the various Disney/WB films that came with a short and the short was advertised in the commercials, I feel like most of them weren't that appealing. The Neverending Story II was likely expected to be a hit (and I don't know if Box Office Bunny was in the promotions or not), The Prince and the Pauper (being a 30-minute short) was released with The Rescuers Down Under which I kind of feel should have been more successful (I actually saw those at the theaters twice, and I don't remember even knowing about Rescuers Down Under or Prince and the Pauper until I was taken to the theater to see them), Richie Rich is probably the one I most wanted to see for more than just the short (though I was suddenly really into the Road Runner, but Richie Rich also seemed like a genuinely cool movie to me - I was a fan of Macully Culkin and liked the concept of a movie about the world's richest kid, though otherwise I've barely seen anything involving the character), I'm not really sure how likely I would have wanted to see A Kid in King Arthur's Court if it didn't come with a new Mickey Mouse short or if I would have wanted to see The Great Panda Adventure without Carrotblanca (and I recall only seeing a TV ad for that once - otherwise, I kept seeing Carrotblanca advertised on bags of Doritos, and mistakenly thought that was a feature film), I also recall seeing a print ad (but never a television ad) saying that Superior Duck was in theaters with either Cats Don't Dance or Car Pool (did both come with a Warners short?), which made me want to see whichever movie more, yet it took a couple decades before I saw Cats Don't Dance and I still have not seen Car Pool.
But then by the late-1990s, it seemed non-existent for commercials for movies to advertise the shorts they came with. I think most of the '90s movies to contain shorts did poorly, so not sure if that's what it was, or if they decided it'd be better to surprise movie goers. Though the first three Nickelodeon movies had a short at the start, I feel like I just vaguely knew about Harriet the Spy coming with a Hey Arnold sneak preview or The Rugrats Movie coming with a CatDog short, but I was aware of all the shorts before seeing them. And of course the three Pokemon movies advertised the shorts that came with them (and is it odd to anybody else that they produced Pokemon shorts and had those come with the Pokemon films? Would it have been just as odd if Carrotblanca was released with Space Jam or Runaway Brain came with A Goofy Movie? Or if Looney Tunes: Back in Action came with one of the Larry Doyle Looney Tunes shorts like originally planned?). Most recently, advertisements for Cocoa also included promotion/acknolwedgement of Olaf's Frozen Adventure. But I guess if a movie is to be released with a half-hour short (or a 20-minute short, like the Pokemon shorts), it's best to advertise those.
Of course nearly every Pixar movie was released with a short (it looks like the last few have not), I don't think any of those were advertised on television, but it was such a tradition that after a certain point the public most likely expected to see a short in the theaters with each Pixar film.