Follow TV Tropes


Trivia / Disney Animated Canon

Go To

  • All-Star Cast: Although not as blatantly advertised and abused as DreamWorks Animation, the movies in the canon will occasionally have a staggering roster of A-list celebrities lending their vocal talent. Before 1992's Aladdin introduced Robin Williams as the Genie, Disney preferred actual voice actors, with the oldest films having actors who were theater mainstays or those who were experienced with singing and providing voice work on radio shows. After that, they started to increasingly advertise celebrity roles. Some of the more blatant examples: Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi as the leads in Tangled, Miley Cyrus in Bolt (particularly egregious because she replaced a voice actor who had already recorded most of her lines) and perhaps Mel Gibson in Pocahontas.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Averted until The Black Cauldron came along in 1985. Since then there have been a fair few other PG-rated canon entries, such as Lilo & Stitch, Tangled, etc. though the vast majority of the canon remains G-rated. This is becoming more and more common, though, as the G rating is increasingly seen as unprofitable.
  • Banned Episode: Make Mine Music eventually became this because of "The Martins and the Coys".
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Dinosaur is the only entry in the canon that was not made by Feature Animation - they produced the film, but it was animated by Disney's Secret Lab (formerly Dream Quest Images), a short-lived special effects department that worked on CG imagery and was intended to be a sort-of cross between Pixar and Industrial Light & Magic. Secret Lab was shut down long before Disney bought both of those companies, and Dinosaur was the only animated film they ever worked on.
    • Advertisement:
    • The Wild is included in the canon in the UK, even though Disney didn't work on it at all. They just distributed it.
  • Children Voicing Children: Played straight for 90% of the canon. In fact, Pinocchio is arguably the Trope Maker.
  • Creator Backlash: Several of the films have gotten this.
    • Walt Disney didn't think much of Dumbo, seeing it as a filler feature to make up for the losses of Pinocchio and Fantasia and to get the money to allow Bambi to be completed. That he was very hands off with it compared to his other films, combined with it being made during the devastating 1941 studio strike didn't help either.
    • Alice in Wonderland was another film Walt was dissatisfied with, feeling the film was cold. He even said he was glad it failed at the box office.
      "I think Alice got what she deserved. I never wanted to make it in the first place, but everybody said I should. I tried to introduce a little sentiment into it by getting Alice involved with the White Knight, but they said we couldn't tamper with a classic. So we just kept moving it at circus pace."
    • Advertisement:
    • Peter Pan was another one he didn't care for, mainly because he felt Peter was a cold and unlikable character. Disney animator Marc Davis said in an interview that he feels this way toward the Indians in the film, saying that they would have portrayed them differently if the film were made today.
    • According to "Before the Animation Begins", Walt absolutely hated the Xerox process and art direction of 101 Dalmatians, mainly because he felt it went against one of his goals—to convince the audience they aren't seeing drawings on screen.
    • In issue 26 of the magazine "Animator", Don Bluth expressed dissatisfaction with working on Disney's Robin Hood;
      "I drew with great excitement, thinking how good it was to work on a Disney feature. When Robin Hood was completed I decided it did not look the greatest of films. The heart wasn't in it. It had technique, the characters were well drawn, the Xerox process retained the fine lines so I could see all of the self indulgence of the animators, each one saying, “Look how great I am,” but the story itself had no soul."
    • The Fox and the Hound: Several notable animators, including John Lasseter, Don Bluth and Tim Burton, rarely speak kindly of this film, citing its tight-budgeted animation, which all but did away with the innovative technology the company had invented, as the final sign that Disney had become a shell of its former self. Bluth, in particular, took it the hardest by leading a walk-out of several other animators who followed him to work on The Secret of NIMH during this film's production, beginning a long and bitter rivalry between him and the studio which went on until he retired in 2000. Burton also bailed during production of this film, which is the last one made before the 1984 management shift
    • The Black Cauldron is not held in high regard by either its staff or the company as a whole, not helping that it was one of the biggest flops that Disney ever experienced and destroyed the careers of its producer, Joe Hale (who had an editing run-in with Jeffrey Katzenberg that didn't help his chances), and co-directors Ted Berman and Richard Rich.
    • Animator Will Finn enjoyed working on The Little Mermaid, but he stated on his Small Room blog that he wasn't happy with his animation of Grimbsy, saying there are only one or two scenes he did that don't make him cringe today.
  • Disowned Adaptation:
    • The son of Carlo Collodi, the author of the original The Adventures of Pinocchio book, hated the Disney adaptation for playing fast and loose with his dad's story, and even unsuccessfully tried to sue the studio for misrepresenting his father's work.
    • Per word of Chuck Jones (who did his own animated adaptations of Kipling's stories) in his book Chuck Jones Conversations, Kipling's daughter hated the Disney adaptation of The Jungle Book for being an In Name Only adaptation of her father's work.
      "Before we started our film, I discovered that Kipling's daughter was still alive and called her. In an elegant, British Dowager-like voice, she confirmed my pronunciation (of Mowgli's name) and added "and, I hate Walter Disney." It was the only time I ever heard anybody call him Walter. In her lifetime, she said nobody ever pronounced anything but Mauwgli."
    • The descendants of Victor Hugo bashed Disney in an open letter to the Libération newspaper for their ancestor getting no mention on the advertisement posters for the Disney adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and they harshly criticized the film itself as a vulgar commercialization of Victor Hugo's story.
  • Fandom Life Cycle: Ranges from 2 to 5, depending on the film. Most of the Walt Disney-era films, 1990s films and more recent films get to 4-5, but the lesser-known films of the canon have their fair share of defenders.
  • Franchise Killer: There have been at least five close calls where Walt Disney Animation Studios was nearly shut down.
    • The first were the triple failures of Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi; mixed with the onslaught of World War II, the studio lost a lot of money. The post-WWII years found Disney in a position where it was too financially risky to make full-length feature animated films, but also too financially risky to not have the steady stream of feature animation revenue that cartoon shorts alone couldn't provide. They compromised by releasing package films until they felt that they'd recovered enough to tackle a full-length film again with Cinderella - if Cinderella had bombed, Walt Disney admitted that the studio probably wouldn't have survived. Luckily for them it became a massive hit, ushering in a new decade of Disney feature films.
    • The second was after Sleeping Beauty flopped. The rise of television meant that people weren't going to the theaters to see animated films they way that they used to, meaning it was no longer cost-effective to make animated films traditionally. The development of the xerox animation technology ended up lowering costs and preventing Disney from shutting down completely, but they still had to lay off a lot of animators in the early 1960s in the wake of Sleeping Beauty's financial failure.
    • The third was after the death of Walt Disney in 1966. The other executives felt that theatrical animation was no longer viable, particularly since the studio had proven in the 1950s that it could make successful live action, television and theme park projects to carry the company (the short animated film division had already been shut down in 1962). There were plans to close the division after the completion of The Jungle Book (1967), but director Ken Anderson was able to convince the executives to keep it open a little longer, claiming that Walt had plans to make The Aristocats, previously a live-action short film intended for television, into a full-length animated movie. Wanting to honor Walt they agreed, and luckily when The Jungle Book became a huge hit in 1967 it convinced them that there was a future for animated movies, leading them to green-light more.
    • The fourth was The Black Cauldron, which was such a huge financial misfire that it nearly took the studio down with it (it was still able to kill the Disney careers of directors Ted Berman and Richard Rich and producer Joe Hale, plus it's one of the factors that forced Ron Miller to leave and allowed Jeffrey Katzenberg into Disney). Thankfully, the modest success of The Great Mouse Detective managed to keep the studio afloat until The Little Mermaid came in and started the Renaissance.
    • The fifth wasn't a single film but the large amount of commercial and/or critical disappointments that lasted for years after Jeffrey Katzenberg left Disney and started DreamWorks. Once Pixar was officially integrated into Disney, there were once again talks of permanently shutting down the studios. Thankfully, Bob Iger, John Lasseter, and Ed Catmull decided to work on reviving the studios with the Pixar charm instead of shutting it down out of being overshadowed by Pixar. Years later, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen (2013), Big Hero 6, and Zootopia were released, showing that the studios was once again at the top of their game.
  • Genre-Killer:
  • History Repeats:
    • A meta-example. The Disney Revival films Zootopia and Moana are an interesting mirror of the Disney Renaissance films The Lion King and Pocahontas. Each set of films had the situation where a "talking animals" film was released and only expected to be a "filler" film that came before the next highly anticipated "princess" film. In each case, the "talking animals" film became a massively successful Sleeper Hit that surpassed its respective "princess" film. Moana took in a very respectful $640 million worldwide but was outdone by Zootopia which took in $1.02 billion. Pocahontas was a moderate success with $346 million and was eclipsed by Lion King's $968 million. However, Moana was still well received by critics and audiences while Pocahontas had a very mixed reception.
    • Another meta-example: The last time Disney Animation Studios had two of its films nominated for "Best Animated Feature" in the same year was back in 2002 with Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet. In 2016, almost 15 years later, they had Moana and Zootopia. Both times, Disney had a film in the running with a Polynesian protagonist and a strong Polynesian influence. Bonus points for John Musker and Ron Clements who were the directors for both Treasure Planet and Moana (both of which included a reference to Lilo & Stitch in the beginning of their films with their protagonists in their youth).
  • Old Shame:
    • Most of the package films from Saludos Amigos to The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad didn't receive wide theatrical re-releases (though select segments from them did), and most of their home video releases didn't receive large advertising campaigns. Disney seems especially ashamed today of Make Mine Music and Melody Time, the two usually regarded as "Fantasia with pop music and/or more dialogue." Their Laserdiscs remained exclusive to Japan, and both movies took several years to reach VHS. Make Mine Music in particular became Walt's last Canon movie to make its VHS debut; until its 2000 induction into the Gold Classic Collection, Disney instead preferred to individually sell its best-remembered segments (such as "Peter and the Wolf", originally written for a cancelled Fantasia sequel). Among all of the Canon movies through Raya and The Last Dragon, Make Mine Music and Melody Time both marked the last ones to reach Blu-ray — and by extension, Walt Disney's last Canon movies to reach Blu-ray — remaining unavailable until November 2021.
    • Some of the racist imagery of their earlier films is downplayed or completely removed in contemporary times. A particularly egregious example is the removal of a black servant pony during a segment of Fantasia.
    • Disney used to have this attitude towards Alice in Wonderland and Robin Hood, but they became big-enough cult classics to go mainstream.
    • The Black Cauldron was the biggest one. Disney wanted people to forget it was even made, but it too became enough of a cult classic that the company eventually allowed at least two mobile games to make its Big Bad a playable character in them.
    • Disney doesn't seem to talk about Home on the Range or Chicken Little much anymore; they pretty much usurped The Black Cauldron as their biggest embarrassments.
  • Production Posse: Check any of the credits in the Disney Animated Canon starting with The Aristocats and you'll begin to notice several recurring names in both the cast and crew. Here's a small rundown:
    • The Dark Age Of Disney:
      • Phil Harris, Pat Buttram, Sterling Holloway (a remnant from the studio's Golden Age) and George Lindsey.
      • If the film had a male child protagonist during that period, he was probably voiced by one of animator/director Wolfgang Reitherman's sons.
    • The Renaissance Age of Disney:
      • Alan Menken and Randy Newman.
      • Glen Keane, Andreas Deja, Ruben Aquino, Mark Henn, Tony Fucile.
      • Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, Don Hahn, Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff.
    • The Millennium Age of Disney:
      • John Lasseter, Peter Del Vecho, Roy Conli, Clark Spencer
      • Byron Howard, Don Hall, Jennifer Lee, Stephen J. Anderson, Chris Williams, Rich Moore, Nathan Greno, Jin Kim
      • Alan Tudyk, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
  • Recycled: The Series: As mentioned under Canon Discontinuity on the main page, a number of DAC films got Sequel Series and Spin-Off shows:
  • Referenced by...: Knights of Buena Vista is a Campaign Comic using the animated films (and others) as source material.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: The UK does not consider Dinosaur as part of the canon. Instead, they include The Wild (which, unlike Dinosaur, was not produced by a Disney-owned studio; Disney simply distributed it) as part of the canon, which the US does not.
  • Trope Namer for the following tropes:
  • Uncredited Role: Until 1984, there was a rule that animators had to draw at least 100 feet of film (roughly 68 seconds) in order to be credited. There are other specific examples on their own work pages.
  • Unisex Series, Gendered Merchandise: Although Disney films are for everyone, merchandising isn't so lenient. Many of the toys released are aimed at girls, especially the Disney Princess canon.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Two books have been written on the subject, The Disney That Never Was and Disney Lost and Found (focusing on My Peoples and Wild Life specifically alongside deleted segments from completed works).
    • The Nightmare Before Christmas was apparently supposed to be Disney's 32nd animated film, to have been released during the 1993 holiday season, with The Lion King, then Disney's 33rd animated film, being scheduled for the 1994 holiday season. Then Nightmare was rebranded as a Touchstone film due to being Darker and Edgier even by Disney's standards (and some of the animated canon's entries are more mature than others) and Lion King found itself pushed forward to summer 1994 and directly replacing Nightmare as Disney's 32nd as a direct result of said rebranding. Had things gone as planned, Nightmare would've been Disney's first non-hand-drawn film, as well as the first and so far only stop-motion entry, in the animated canon.
    • Bambi and The Jungle Book were long considered for sequels, but were ultimately turned down, allegedly due to Walt Disney's wariness towards sequels (he only shown considerable interest in following onto Fantasia, though in the form of adding new separate segments to rereleases of the first). While second films of all three franchises were eventually made decades later, only Fantasia's made into Disney Animated Canon. Note that had Bambi's Children came into fruition it would have been the first sequel to be inducted.
    • One of the most intriguing potential films that we may never see is an adaptation of Terry Pratchet's Mort, and even got up to concept art! The story goes that after The Princess and the Frog, Musker and Clemants wanted to adapt the book as a traditionally 2D animated film, but that there were a few main factors that meant they couldn't:
      • The Disney executives were a little apprehensive of Death becoming a Disney character.
      • When The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh (2011) underperformed, combined with the smash success of Tangled, it made the financial prospects of doing another 2D film uncertain.
      • The Pratchet estate would only sell the rights to Discworld as a whole, meaning that Disney would have to basically option the entire 34 book series just to adapt one story.
    • A few Recycled: The Series were considered, but never left the cutting room floor [1].
      • Some of these shows were developed for a proposed Disney Heritage project, in which shows based on the films would be promoted globally in hopes of increasing the films' popularity. While execs for Disney Channel International was enthusiastic about it, Disney Channel USA was not as it would have to finance half of the project and wanted to focus more on tween programming as they believed that genre would be more successful domestically. The Emperor's New School was an exception, presumably partly because its premise fit what Disney Channel USA was aiming for.
      • Brother Bear: The Series: Set after the first movie, Koda would've tried to add more orphaned animals to his and Kenai's family — a hyper husky puppy, two owlets, and Doohickey, the last surviving member of an elephant/platypus hybrid species. Koda, Rutt, and Tuke would've had their voice actors reprise their roles, though Kenai would've been voiced by Will Friedle. The series got as far as an animatic pilot and was a hit with test audiences, though The Emperor's New School was greenlit over it due to the above reason as well as its mother film being a slightly bigger hit in the box office and buzz in the U.S. over Brother Bear.
      • A Robin Hood animated series and a Mulan animated series called Mulan and the Treasures of Qin were also considered.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Disney Wiki.