This is what killed Disneytoon Studios

Big picture

  • Disneytoon Studios, a subsidiary of Disney, specializes in the production of direct-to-video spin-offs and sequels to classic and contemporary Disney films.
  • The studio began as Disney MovieToons in 1990 with the launch DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lampand later changed its name to Disneytoon Studios in 2003.
  • The decline of the VHS and DVD market, combined with a change in leadership and the rise of streaming, led to the closure of Disneytoon Studios in 2018.

Today, Disney may pay its biggest check for Marvel and Star Wars program, but the company’s main claim to fame is a long-standing movement. Disney continues this tradition today with two major animation divisions: Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios—the former purchased by Disney in 2006 and the latter formerly owned by the group itself, producing more than sixty films since 1939. Snow White and the Seven Drawfs Until this year strange world. However, esteemed Disney fans, especially those who grew up during the Disney Renaissance, may remember the third icon that focused on the beginning of the movie, the one that produced a massive forty-four films over twenty-five years before disappearing altogether – DisneyToon Studios, which grew out of Disney MovieToons.

What is Disneytoon Studios?

Movie Goofy Max Goofy on the open road
Image via Disney

DisneyToon Studios grew out of Disney MovieToons, which began in 1990 when Disney made its first animated feature that wasn’t properly affiliated with Walt Disney Animation Studios. The movie is DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. Despite the theatrical release, the film is based on DuckTales The television show is therefore created by Walt Disney Television Animation along with the French animation division of the company. Under the MovieToons logo, the division will produce four more theatrically released films: A lie movie, Back to Neverland, The Jungle Book 2And Piglet’s Big Adventure. All these follow DuckTales the movie Lead in the basis of the story from existing intellectual property and use the company’s overseas animation department for production.

At the same time, however, Disney MovieToons is still under the name Disney Video Premieres, a very appropriate title for most movies. The second class project of the subsidiary is The return of Jafara Aladdin The sequel refers to the opening of a television series based on the eponymous character. The film was initially considered for theatrical release, but the desire to release quickly and expedite the television series made it Disney’s first direct-to-video sequel, appearing on VHS on May 20, 1994. This launched a cycle of home video spin-offs and sequels of Disney films for the next two decades.

RELATED: The 7 Most Watched Direct-to-Animated Disney Movies

Iago and Jafar in The Return of Jafar (1994)
Image via Walt Disney Home Video

Follow up The return of Jafar (which sold more than 7 million copies in its first month), Disney MovieToons/Disney Video Premieres released more than a dozen direct-to-video movies based on classic and contemporary Disney characters. The studio followed suit The return of Jafar with Aladdin three times, Aladdin and the King of ThievesAnd continued to make the next part Beauty and the Beast, Lion, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Cinderellaand more leading into the new millennium.

In 2003, Disney MovieToons separated from the control of Walt Disney Television Animation and came under the umbrella of Walt Disney Feature Animation. This change brought a new name: Disneytoon Studios, but the approach remained the same – direct to video spin-offs and sequels remained the focus of the department. Over the next decade, Disneytoons made more sequels to movies such as Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, The Fox And the HoundAnd BambiLike the original Mickey Mouse And This wind is a mountain spin-offs. The studio launched the largest franchise in 2008 with Tinker Bell, opens a series of six films focusing on the iconic angel and her friends. It also cited Pixar’s success Car franchise with two the plane The movie is meant to take place in the same universe.

What killed Disneytoon Studios?

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
Image via Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

During this time, the world of animation, entertainment, and Disney itself changed. Disney has closed several overseas animation divisions, and the evolution of leadership led to a reassessment of the purpose of Disneytoon Studios within the company. John Lasseter Became Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006 and took over creative control of Disneytoon Sharon Morrill (who spearheaded the direct-to-video revolution until now) with the president of Disney Studios Alan Bergman. This new, top-down approach makes for fewer sequels and more spin-offs, with an emphasis on the upcoming Fairy series. According to a 2007 article from Jim Hill Media, Disneytoon is also expected to shift its focus to supporting Disney Playhouse’s preschool television programs.

However, the transition is still in this era. Under Bergman, Meredith Roberts became the new vice president of Disneytoon in 2008. Meanwhile, at the top of the food chain, Bob Iger Get comfortable as the new CEO of the company, taking the reins from Michael Eisner And prepare for a long tenure filled with lucrative acquisitions. As Disney’s intellectual property list grew and diversified under Iger, the need to constantly rotate and rank the Disney canon became less necessary.

Then, in the 2010s, the VHS market disappeared and the DVD market began to lose its way. Streaming surpassed home video, and Disneytoon’s direct-to-video approach became less relevant or profitable. The studio’s last five films have actually been live-action, but despite several films in development, Disneytoon released its final project in 2015. Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast. It officially closed its doors in 2018, after the last leadership change when Lasseter stepped down as CCO amid allegations of sexual misconduct, and. Peter Dr And Jennifer Lee Took over as head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios respectively. Seventy-five employees lost their jobs when Disneytoon folded.

How do you remember Disneytoon today?

A still from The Lion King 1 1/2
Image via Disney

Over the course of Disneytoon’s existence, it has been a busy place in the Disney empire. A few Disneytoon direct-to-video movies have been critical darlings, and many have been derided for their lackluster classics. Interestingly, many of the stories sent straight to Disney+ are facing similar criticism today, as are Disney’s live-action shows of classic cartoons. For better or worse, Disneytoon can therefore be seen as an early precursor to what Disney has become.

Like many Disney sequels, remakes, and spin-offs coming out now, however, Disneytoon direct-to-video releases aren’t all duds. While a few people hold a candle to the previously released dramas, their hands (in particular The dumbest movie ever And Elephant 1 1/2) stands out as an understated gem. The department’s unique cinematography still holds a nostalgic place in the minds of many children who grew up during its heyday, and it’s an impressive example of a studio that held great purpose and success during such a short period of recent film history.

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