When Disney scores, it tends to score big, but not every Disney project is a hit. With things progressing rapidly for the House of Mouse, with their acquisitions of Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm LTD and potentially the entire 2oth Century Fox catalog, it looks as though the entertainment conglomerate is shedding some of its underperforming assets. Disney has chosen to close up shop on its Disneytoon Studios, who produced direct-to-video projects like the once-popular ‘Tinkerbell’/’Disney Fairies’ series and the lukewarm ‘Cars’ spin-off ‘Planes’.
A Disney spokesperson simply announced:
“After much consideration, we have made the decision to end production activity and close Disneytoon Studios.”
Originating as Disney Movie Toons, its first film was 1990’s ‘Duck Tales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp’, which actually received a theatrical release. Its final project was 2015’s ‘Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast’.
Disney Movie Toons/Disneytoon Studios scored a few crossover hits like ‘A Goofy Movie’ and ‘The Tigger Movie’, both of which also garnered theatrical releases. However, the bulk of its early output consisted of low-budget sequels to successful theatrical films or classics, with the new movies timed to coincide with their home video re-releases.
Starting with the 1994 follow-up to ‘Aladdin’, ‘The Return of Jafar’, Disney Movie Toon/Disneytoon Studios went on to produce ‘Aladdin and the King of Thieves’, ‘Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas’, ‘Belle’s Magical World’, ‘Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World’, ‘The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride’, ‘The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea’, ‘Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure’, ‘Return to Never Land’, ‘Cinderella II: Dreams Come True’, ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame II’, ‘101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure’, ‘The Jungle Book 2’, ‘The Lion King 1½’, ‘Mulan II’, ‘Tarzan II’, ‘Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch’, ‘Bambi II’, ‘The Fox and the Hound 2’, ‘Cinderella III: A Twist in Time’ and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning. Even movies that weren’t successful got sequels like ‘Atlantis: Milo’s Return’, ‘Kronk’s New Groove’, and ‘Brother Bear 2’.
In 2008, however, Disneytoon Studios turned its attention to the ‘Tinkerbell’ brand, which eventually saw the release of six movies. These were so popular that they led to multi-millions in sales of toys and other licensed merchandise and to Disney adding a Fairy Hollow section to its theme parks with face actors portraying the various winged friends from the movies.
In 2013, they produced ‘Planes’ a spin-off from the successful Pixar ‘Cars’ franchise, which was released in theaters, but ‘Planes’ was never able to cross over as strongly. Nevertheless, a sequel, ‘Planes: Fire & Rescue’ also opened in theaters in 2014.
Though it may be unrelated, earlier this month, it was announced that Pete Docter would assume control of Pixar, while Jennifer Lee would assume control of Walt Disney Animation Studios, following the departure at the end of the year of former head John Lasseter.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter