Disneytoon Studios, originally Disney MovieToons and was also Disney Video Premieres, was an American animation studio which created direct-to-video and occasional theatrical animated feature films. The studio was a division of Walt Disney Animation Studios, with both being part of The Walt Disney Studios, itself a division of The Walt Disney Company. The studio produced 47 feature films, beginning with DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp in 1990. Its final feature film was Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast in 2015.
Disneytoon Studios headquarters in Glendale
Disney Video Premieres
|Founded||April 1, 1990|
|Defunct||June 28, 2018|
|Headquarters||Disney Grand Central Creative Campus,|
|Owner||Walt Disney Animation Studios|
Number of employees
Disney MovieToons' first feature production was DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp in 1990, with animation by Walt Disney Animation France. Disney Television Animation hired director of specials, Sharon Morrill, in 1993.
Disney began producing direct-to-video sequels of Walt Disney Feature Animation films: the first of which was the Aladdin (1992) sequel The Return of Jafar (1994). When Aladdin was selected as a possible candidate as an animated TV series (before the film's release), as with many animated series, the first three episodes were a multi-part story which Disney used as a potential "family movie special" for the Friday night before the series' premiere. The opening story was instead greenlit for a direct-to-video release. Thus with The Return of Jafar and its success, the direct-to-video unit was started. Then a second sequel, Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), assigned work to both the Australian and Japanese animation units.
In August 1994 with the departure of Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, its filmed entertainment business was split into two, with this division moved as a part of Walt Disney Television Animation into the newly created Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications under chairman Richard H. Frank.
Morrill was in charge of the above first Aladdin DTV film, launching Disney Video Premiere. Morrill expanded the DTV market making it more important for Disney, thus the overseas Disney studios were increased and assigned to these features. Morrill was promoted to vice president of the direct-to-video unit by November 1997.
The Walt Disney Television group, upon the departure of its president Dean Valentine in September 1997, was split into two units, Walt Disney Television (WDT) and Walt Disney Network Television (WDNT), reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Joe Roth. WDT would be headed by Charles Hirschhorn as president and consisted of Disney Telefilms and Walt Disney Television Animation, which included including Disney MovieToons and Disney Video Premiere.
The unit released a short under the WDTA name in 1997, Redux Riding Hood, which was nominated for a 1998 Academy Award. More direct-to-video sequels followed, among them Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997), Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998), The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998), and Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2002). By April 1998, MovieToons was merged with the units of direct-to-video films and network TV specials as Morrill was promoted to executive vice president over her existing unit of DTV films, network TV specials and theatrical films. Ellen Gurney was promoted from director of DTV films, theatrical movies and specials to vice president in April 1999.
In a January 2003 reorganization of Disney, Disney MovieToons/Disney Video Premieres was transferred from Walt Disney Television Animation to Walt Disney Feature Animation and renamed Disneytoon Studios (DTS) in June. Morrill continued to lead the division as executive vice president. With the split, both Disneytoon and Disney Television Animation were issuing direct to video features.
Disney closed Disney Animation Japan, one of the two remaining internal overseas studios Disneytoon worked with, in June 2004, with Pooh's Heffalump Movie (2004) as its final DTS work. By March 2005, Morrill was promoted to president of Disneytoon. On July 25, 2005, Disney announced that it was closing Disneytoon Studios Australia in October 2006 after 17 years of existence, with its final feature being Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007).
In the early 2000s, Disneytoon joined Disney Consumer Products (DCP) as their internal video partner within the Disney conglomerate in developing the new Disney franchises, which then only consisted of Disney Princess and Disney Fairies. While DCP eyed other potential franchises, DTS looked into the Seven Dwarfs for a male-centric franchise to counterbalance the female-centric Fairies by 2005.
John Lasseter joined Disney with the purchase of Pixar in 2006, and made it clear that he disliked Disneytoon undercutting the value of the feature animated films with the sequels and prequels. Following complications relating to the production of Tinker Bell (2008), the debut film of DCP's Fairies franchise, it led to discussions over the focus of the division. Thus, Sharon Morill, president of the studio, moved to a new position in the company. On June 22, 2007, management of Disneytoon Studios was turned over to the control of Alan Bergman, president of Walt Disney Studios, with input from Ed Catmull and Lasseter. As chief creative officer, Lasseter called for the cancellation of all future films in production or development at Disneytoon Studios. As a result, planned or in-progress sequels to Chicken Little (2005), Meet the Robinsons (2007), Pinocchio (1940), and The Aristocats (1970) were all cancelled, among other projects. Tinker Bell's animation was scrapped and was restarted while two projects that DCP formed as franchise projects were canceled, which were "Disney's Dwarfs" and the Disney Princess Enchanted Tales line after the latter's first DVD. The release of The Little Mermaid 3 was put on hold. Disney Studios president Alan Bergman went to oversee day-to-day operations of DTS. Thus DTS halted production of sequels and prequels when it originally indicated that the division would shift to support various Playhouse Disney franchises with direct-to-videos.
Meredith Roberts transferred from Walt Disney Television Animation to senior vice president and general manager of Disneytoon Studios in January 2008. At the April unveiling of Disney's animated feature lineup, it was announced that Disneytoon Studios would no longer produce future sequels to Disney animated films, but will instead focus on spin-offs. Also, the division was under the banner of the renamed Walt Disney Feature Animation studio, now called Walt Disney Animation Studios, led by Catmull and Lasseter.
In November 2017, Lasseter announced that he would be taking a six-month leave of absence after acknowledging "missteps" in his behavior with employees in a memo addressed to the staff of Disneytoon Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Pixar. According to The Hollywood Reporter and The Washington Post, Lasseter had a history of alleged sexual misconduct towards employees. On June 8, 2018, it was announced that Lasseter would leave Disney Animation and Pixar at the end of the year, but would take on a consulting role until then.
Disneytoon Studios was shut down on June 28, 2018, which resulted in layoffs of 75 animators and staff. The production company's untitled Planes spin-off film about the future of aviation in outer space was removed from Disney's film release schedule of April 12, 2019 and was removed from development.
As of 2002, the films that Disneytoon had made often had budgets less than $15 million for production, and had taken in $100 million in sales and rentals.
|Title||Release type||Release date||Franchise||Other production company(ies)|
|DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp||Theatrical||August 3, 1990||DuckTales||Disney Animation France|
|The Return of Jafar||Direct-to-video||May 20, 1994||Aladdin||Disney Animation Australia|
|A Goofy Movie||Theatrical||April 7, 1995||Goof Troop|
|Aladdin and the King of Thieves||Direct-to-video||August 13, 1996||Aladdin||Disney Animation Australia|
Disney Animation Japan
|Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin||Direct-to-video||August 5, 1997||Winnie the Pooh||Disney Animation Japan|
|Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas||Direct-to-video||November 11, 1997||Beauty and the Beast||Disney Animation Canada|
|Belle's Magical World||Direct-to-video||February 17, 1998|
|Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World||Direct-to-video||August 25, 1998||Pocahontas|
|The Lion King II: Simba's Pride||Direct-to-video||October 27, 1998||The Lion King||Disney Animation Australia|
|Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas||Direct-to-video||November 9, 1999||Mickey Mouse|
|Seasons of Giving||Direct-to-video||November 9, 1999||Winnie the Pooh|
|The Tigger Movie||Theatrical||February 11, 2000||Disney Animation Japan|
|An Extremely Goofy Movie||Direct-to-video||February 29, 2000||Goof Troop||Disney Animation Australia|
|The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea||Direct-to-video||September 19, 2000||The Little Mermaid||Disney Animation Canada|
|Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure||Direct-to-video||February 27, 2001||Lady and the Tramp||Disney Animation Australia|
|Return to Never Land||Theatrical||February 15, 2002||Peter Pan|
|Cinderella II: Dreams Come True||Direct-to-video||February 26, 2002||Cinderella|
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame II||Direct-to-video||March 19, 2002||The Hunchback of Notre Dame||Disney Animation Japan|
|A Very Merry Pooh Year||Direct-to-video||November 12, 2002||Winnie the Pooh|
|101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure||Direct-to-video||January 21, 2003||101 Dalmatians||Disney Animation Japan|
|The Jungle Book 2||Theatrical||February 14, 2003||The Jungle Book|
|Piglet's Big Movie||Theatrical||March 21, 2003||Winnie the Pooh||Disney Animation Japan|
|The Lion King 1½||Direct-to-video||February 10, 2004||The Lion King||Cornerstone Animation|
|Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo||Direct-to-video||March 9, 2004||Winnie the Pooh|
|Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers||Direct-to-video||August 17, 2004||Mickey Mouse|
|Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas||Direct-to-video||November 9, 2004|
|Mulan II||Direct-to-video||February 1, 2005||Mulan|
|Pooh's Heffalump Movie||Theatrical||February 11, 2005||Winnie the Pooh||Disney Animation Japan|
|Tarzan II||Direct-to-video||June 14, 2005||Tarzan||Disney Animation Australia|
|Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch||Direct-to-video||August 30, 2005||Lilo & Stitch||Disney Animation Australia|
|Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie||Direct-to-video||September 13, 2005||Winnie the Pooh||Project Firefly|
|Kronk's New Groove||Direct-to-video||December 13, 2005||The Emperor's New Groove|
|Bambi II||Direct-to-video/Theatrical||February 7, 2006||Bambi||Disney Animation Australia|
|Brother Bear 2||Direct-to-video||August 29, 2006||Brother Bear||Disney Animation Australia|
|The Fox and the Hound 2||Direct-to-video||December 12, 2006||The Fox and the Hound|
|Cinderella III: A Twist in Time||Direct-to-video||February 6, 2007||Cinderella||Disney Animation Australia|
|Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams||Direct-to-video||September 4, 2007||Disney Princess|
|The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning||Direct-to-video||August 26, 2008||The Little Mermaid|
|Tinker Bell||Direct-to-video||October 28, 2008||Disney Fairies||Prana Studios|
|Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure||Direct-to-video||October 27, 2009|
|Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue||Direct-to-video||September 21, 2010|
|Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings||Theatrical (limited release)||October 23, 2012|
|Planes||Theatrical||August 9, 2013||Cars|
|Tinker Bell: The Pirate Fairy||Theatrical (limited release)||April 1, 2014||Disney Fairies|
|Planes: Fire & Rescue||Theatrical||July 18, 2014||Cars|
|Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast||Theatrical (limited release)||January 30, 2015||Disney Fairies|
|Title||Release type||Release date||Franchise|
|Timon & Pumbaa in Stand by Me||Theatrical||December 22, 1995||The Lion King|
|Redux Riding Hood||August 5, 1997||Totally Twisted Fairy Tales|
|The Three Little Pigs||Festival||1998|
|The Cat That Looked at a King||Direct-to-video: DVD extra||December 14, 2004||Mary Poppins 40th Anniversary DVD|
|Legend of the Chihuahua||Direct-to-video: DVD extra||March 9, 2009||Beverly Hills Chihuahua DVD|
|Pixie Hollow Games||Television special||November 18, 2011||Disney Fairies|
|Pixie Hollow Bake Off||October 20, 2013|
|Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular||Direct-to-video||November 4, 2014||Cars, on Planes: Fire & Rescue DVD|
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In the mid-1990s, Disney sponsored a series of Totally Twisted Fairytales – three modern takes on classic stories, similar to Jay Ward's Fractured Fairytales series of the 1960s. One of these was a re-imagining of Walt's short The Three Little Pigs (the other two were Little Redux Riding Hood and Jack And The Beanstock),...