- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- Saludos Amigos
- The Three Caballeros
Make Mine Music Fun and Fancy Free Melody Time The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Alice in Wonderland Peter Pan
- Lady and the Tramp
- Sleeping Beauty
One Hundred and One Dalmatians The Sword in the Stone The Jungle Book The Aristocats Robin Hood The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh The Rescuers The Fox and the Hound
- The Black Cauldron
The Great Mouse Detective Oliver & Company
- The Little Mermaid
The Rescuers Down Under
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Lion King
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Hercules
Fantasia 2000 Dinosaur
- The Emperor’s New Groove
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Lilo & Stitch Treasure Planet
- Brother Bear
Home on the Range
- Chicken Little
Meet the Robinsons Bolt
- The Princess and the Frog
- Winnie the Pooh
Toy Story A Bug’s Life
- Toy Story 2
- Monsters, Inc.
- Finding Nemo
- The Incredibles
- Toy Story 3
- Cars 2
This week’s been spent re-visiting some of Disney’s less-celebrated films, like Bolt and Fun and Fancy Free, and it made me realize just how many of Disney’s films are effectively ignored…by Disney itself. When you see Disney products at Target or the Disney Store, or you go to a Disney theme park, you’ll see hordes of Tinker Bell and Buzz Lightyear paraphernalia, but when’s the last time you saw an Oliver or Basil of Baker Street toy? (Admittedly, I do have a Basil plush from when the Disney Store was pushing their version of Beanie Babies back in the day.)
Obviously, there are market forces at work here; if people were clamoring for a Mrs. Calloway the cow t-shirt, they’re be one. And yes, there are a handful of stinkers in the Disney animated classics canon that don’t get a lot of attention because it’s not deserved (I’m lookin’ at you, Make Mine Music). But it does make me wonder how much of that, that lack of awareness or under-appreciation, is due to Disney’s marketing and promotion efforts. Films that more or less died on arrival, like Home on the Range (which is cute and a little insubstantial, but no worse than 95% of what Dreamworks animation puts out)…are they lost to the Great Film Reel in the Sky because of that initial failure?
Disney pushes their back catalog all the time, bringing heavy hitters like Snow White or Beauty and the Beast, “out of the vault” every seven years or so to great fanfare, new soundtrack releases and TV commercials and waves of toys. A lot of money is spent on consecrating a relatively small pool of films (there are only 11 or 12 films in Disney’s “Platinum”/”Diamond” DVD/Blu-ray release line, and they get the lion’s share of the attention), but why not divert some of that money to building up awareness of some of the lesser-knowns? Hercules is a great example to revisit: it’s a funny, clever movie with some great characters (Meg and Hades in particular) and a fantastic score/song list. With its self-deprecating style, it would shine given the current self-awareness prevalent in animated films, but it hasn’t been released on DVD since 2000! (And with a crappy transfer at that. Grrr!)
Wouldn’t Disney want to mine it’s back-catalog for new merchandising opportunities? Isn’t that sorta why they bought Marvel? To take advantage of characters/stories that already existed?
I’m sure Disney beancounters have crunched the numbers; I mean, when has Disney ever left untouched a money-making opportunity? I suppose it’s just frustrating as a fan to see Stitch everywhere (not to say it isn’t deserved), while other characters languish, only to be used for the “hard” questions on Disney Scene It!
And, to borrow from The A.V. Club, some stray observations:
- The package films (like Make Mine Music or Melody Time) are just…not for me. The animation is simple and sloppy. I understand the context in which these films were made (World War II, and a lot of the animators who worked on Snow White and Pinocchio were drafted), but these films, more or less thrown together just to have something to distribute, are very weak.
- OMG how Lilo & Stitch made me tear up. I haven’t watched this film in years, but so much of what was touched upon here (non-traditional families, feeling alone, finding your place in the world) really affected me more than in the past. Of all of the post The Lion King Disney films, this is my favorite, which is funny, because I used to sort of resent it because of how much Disney was trying to make Stitch a BIG THING around the film’s initial release (I remember when I visited Disney World in 2004, the major characters featured on merchandise were Mickey, Donald, Goofy…and Stitch. What?) At the time, I was like, “Disney, stop trying to make ‘Stitch’ happen,” all Mean Girls-like.
- …Yep, upon second viewing, Dinosaur is a blatant knock-off of The Land Before Time. And I’m not sure why it’s considered a Disney Animated Classic, since all of the backgrounds are actually real-life footage.
- The Great Mouse Detective is one of my favorites. Rattigan is just an awesome character. Glad this is coming out on Blu-ray on my birthday this year! (HINT HINT)
- -I’ve also started the Pixar movies. Toy Story is still great, and watching it nearly 20(!) years after it came out, I wonder how many people really got just how revolutionary, how landscape-altering that film really was. Would people have continued to pursue computer animated films in such droves if Toy Story wasn’t just a great movie (animated or not?) What would Disney, and all animation, look like today without Pixar?