This is a guest post by contributor Michael Shorkey.
Over the past 80+ Years Walt Disney Studios has made countless classic films across various film genres, age ranges and demographics. Classic Animated films for kids such as The Little Mermaid, to the Action Packed Pirates of the Caribbean films for a more adult audience. But with great success there also comes some failures here and there, as well as some canceled film projects that never get made for one reason or another. Here are five of those films that never saw the light of day
One of the more well known canceled Disney Films, as it was referenced in Zootopia and advertised heavily at various Disney Events before its cancelation. A Retelling of the classic Jack and the Beanstalk story, similarly to how films like Frozen only took “Inspiration” from a classic story, where Jack would befriend a Child Giant kinda similar to the Big Friendly Giant story. However, this project went through major production hell, with the various writers and directors not feeling satisfied with the story, even asking other creative from Pixar to help. The Project was ultimately canceled after they couldn’t pull their hair anymore coming up with a way to make the story satisfying.
An odd animated film concept based on the first book by Famous Author Roald Dahl, the author behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr. Fox. The book was illustrated by Disney Artists and was written specifically to be the subject of a film project. The film would have followed small Gremlin Creatures during WWII who were mischievous and took planes apart, but by the end reformed and learned how to repair planes. The film however was scrapped due to legal issues where another writer claimed Dahl stole his idea and the fact that WWII Films weren’t very popular anymore due to it ending.
Roger Rabbit Two
With the HUGE success that was the first Roger Rabbit film plans were immediately put into place to make a sequel subtitled “Roger Rabbit Two: The Toon Platoon”, which was meant to act as a prequel set in 1941 where Roger Rabbit was abandoned as a baby and adopted by Humans, when he grows up he sets out to find his real mother and ends up in Hollywood where he meets Jessica. He then is drafted into the army and Jessica is captured by Nazi Spies and Roger has to rescue her. The films ends back in Hollywood where Roger not only finds his real mother, but in a twist finds that his biological father is Bugs Bunny. The film was scrapped when producer Steven Spielberg didn’t like the cartoonish story involving WWII Nazis and the amount of risqué jokes that were planned. Michael Eisner later tired to revive the project with a new script but were ultimately scrapped when production was taking too long.
Kingdom of the Sun
A retelling of the classic story The Prince and the Pauper set in Mayan times, Pacha, a Lama Herder played by Owen Wilson, and Manco, a Princes played by David Spade, would meet in the classic way from the original story and switch places. When the film was taking shape some executives didn’t feel much confidence in the project and so it was ordered to be reworked from scratch. Some of this might sound familiar as the film was reworked into what eventually became The Emperor’s New Groove. An entire documentary called “The Sweatbox” was made about the troubled production, but that documentary is unofficially released due to how the Disney Executives were portrayed and Disney refused to release the full doc.
Atlantis II: The Shards of Chaos
I bet you didn’t know that there were plans for a Theatrical Sequel to the 2001 film Atlantis. In recent years more information has come out that Atlantis was planned to be a multimedia franchise for the company with various video games, theme park attractions and a Saturday Morning Cartoon, but they also planned for a Theatrical Follow-Up. Director Kirk Wise came out in 2020 that the plans for the film involved a New Villain in a “Darth Vader” outfit, around the time of WWI, and a band mercenaries try to find and take over the city of Atlantis, the Crew from Atlantis has to race against the Mercenary Crew and get to Atlantis before they do to warn Milo and Kida. In the end the Main Villain is revealed to be Helga, the Secondary Villain from the first film that supposedly died when falling from a blimp. However the film was canceled when the film only broke even at the box office and wasn’t seen as a huge “HIT” unlike other animated films of that year like Shrek, Jimmy Neutron and Monsters Inc. Issuing in the rise of CGI Animated Films over Hand-Drawn.
These projects just go to show you that even if you have a good idea it doesn’t always mean they’ll happen, LOTS of other factors play a part in a production, but that doesn’t mean these ideas stay dead forever. Some films spent Decades in development hell before eventually being made, and who knows, maybe someday some of these ideas might be brought back in one way or another.
“Independent Film Writer, Independent Film Maker and Film Historian. Hardcore Disney Admirer and Greatly Respects the Legacy of Walt Disney, George Lucas, J. R. Tolkien and many others. Has written a number of articles for smaller websites and is currently in the process of launching my own production company. I have a great Passion for storytelling and believes that with a paper and pencil you can many any work of art, no matter where you come from, be it in the written word or in drawing.”
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