Disneytoon Studios

Disneytoon Studios (DTS), originally Disney MovieToons[5] and was also Disney Video Premieres,[6] 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.[7] 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.[3]

Disneytoon Studios
Disney MovieToons
Disney Video Premieres
IndustryMotion pictures
FoundedApril 1, 1990 (1990-04-01)
DefunctJune 28, 2018 (2018-06-28)[2]
HeadquartersDisney Grand Central Creative Campus, ,
Area served
Key people
ProductsAnimated films
Number of employees
75 (2018)[2]


Disney MovieToons

Disney MovieToons' first feature production was DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp in 1990, with animation by Walt Disney Animation France.[5] Disney Television Animation hired director of specials, Sharon Morrill, in 1993.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

Morrill was in charge of the above first Aladdin DTV film, launching Disney Video Premiere.[6] Morrill expanded the DTV market[6] making it more important for Disney, thus the overseas Disney studios were increased and assigned to these features.[11] Morrill was promoted to vice president of the direct-to-video unit by November 1997.[11]

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.[12][13]

The unit released a short under the WDTA name in 1997, Redux Riding Hood, which was nominated for a 1998 Academy Award.[8] 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).[11] 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.[8] Ellen Gurney was promoted from director of DTV films, theatrical movies and specials to vice president in April 1999.[14]

Disneytoon Studios

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.[6] With the split, both Disneytoon and Disney Television Animation were issuing direct to video features.[9]

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.[15][16][17] By March 2005, Morrill was promoted to president of Disneytoon.[9] 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).[18]

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.[19]

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.[1][20] Disney Studios president Alan Bergman went to oversee day-to-day operations of DTS.[20] 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.[20]

Meredith Roberts transferred from Walt Disney Television Animation to senior vice president and general manager of Disneytoon Studios in January 2008.[4] 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.[21]

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.[22] According to The Hollywood Reporter and The Washington Post, Lasseter had a history of alleged sexual misconduct towards employees.[23][24][25] 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.[26]

Disneytoon Studios closed its doors on June 28, 2018, resulting in a layoff of 75 animators and staff.[27] As a result, the studio's third Planes film about the future of aviation in outer space was removed from both Disney's film release date schedule of April 12, 2019 and from development.[2]


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.[28]

Feature films

Title Franchise Release type Release date Other production company(ies)
Disney MovieToons
DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp DuckTales Theatrical[3] August 3, 1990 Disney Animation France[5]
The Return of Jafar Aladdin Direct-to-video May 20, 1994 Disney Animation Australia[9]
A Goofy Movie Goof Troop Theatrical[29] April 7, 1995
Aladdin and the King of Thieves Aladdin Direct-to-video August 13, 1996 Disney Animation Australia
Disney Animation Japan[9]
Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin[11][31] Winnie the Pooh Direct-to-video August 5, 1997 Disney Animation Japan
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Beauty and the Beast Direct-to-video November 11, 1997 Disney Animation Canada[11]
Belle's Magical World Direct-to-video February 17, 1998
Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World Pocahontas Direct-to-video[11] August 25, 1998
  • Disney Animation Australia
  • Disney Animation Canada
  • Disney Animation Japan[32]
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride The Lion King Direct-to-video October 27, 1998 Disney Animation Australia[11]
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas[14] Mickey Mouse Direct-to-video November 9, 1999
Seasons of Giving Winnie the Pooh Direct-to-video November 9, 1999
The Tigger Movie[1][33] Theatrical February 11, 2000 Disney Animation Japan[16]
An Extremely Goofy Movie Goof Troop Direct-to-video February 29, 2000 Disney Animation Australia[34]
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea The Little Mermaid Direct-to-video[19] September 19, 2000 Disney Animation Canada[35]
Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure Lady and the Tramp Direct-to-video[19] February 27, 2001 Disney Animation Australia[34]
Return to Never Land Peter Pan Theatrical[6] February 15, 2002
  • Disney Animation Australia
  • Disney Animation Canada
  • Disney Animation Japan[32]
  • Cornerstone Animation[36]
Cinderella II: Dreams Come True Cinderella Direct-to-video[19] February 26, 2002
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II The Hunchback of Notre Dame Direct-to-video[9] March 19, 2002 Disney Animation Japan
A Very Merry Pooh Year Winnie the Pooh Direct-to-video November 12, 2002
101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure 101 Dalmatians Direct-to-video January 21, 2003 Disney Animation Japan[37]
Disneytoon Studios
The Jungle Book 2 The Jungle Book Theatrical[6] February 14, 2003
Piglet's Big Movie Winnie the Pooh Theatrical[6][16] March 21, 2003 Disney Animation Japan[16]
The Lion King 1½ The Lion King Direct-to-video[6] February 10, 2004 Cornerstone Animation[36]
Springtime with Roo Winnie the Pooh Direct-to-video[6] March 9, 2004
Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers Mickey Mouse Direct-to-video[6] August 17, 2004
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas Direct-to-video[6] November 9, 2004
Mulan II Mulan Direct-to-video[6] February 1, 2005
Pooh's Heffalump Movie Winnie the Pooh Theatrical[1] February 11, 2005 Disney Animation Japan[16]
Tarzan II Tarzan Direct-to-video[9] June 14, 2005 Disney Animation Australia[34]
Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch Lilo & Stitch Direct-to-video[9] August 30, 2005 Disney Animation Australia[34]
Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie Winnie the Pooh Direct-to-video[39] September 13, 2005 Project Firefly[40]
Kronk's New Groove The Emperor's New Groove Direct-to-video[9] December 13, 2005
Bambi II Bambi Direct-to-video[9]/Theatrical February 7, 2006 Disney Animation Australia[34]
Brother Bear 2 Brother Bear Direct-to-video[1] August 29, 2006 Disney Animation Australia[34]
Project Firefly[40]
The Fox and the Hound 2 The Fox and the Hound Direct-to-video December 12, 2006
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time Cinderella Direct-to-video[9] February 6, 2007 Disney Animation Australia[34]
Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams Disney Princess Direct-to-video[20] September 4, 2007
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning The Little Mermaid Direct-to-video August 26, 2008
Tinker Bell Disney Fairies Direct-to-video[1] October 28, 2008 Prana Studios[41][42]
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
Secret of the Wings Theatrical (limited release) October 23, 2012
Planes Cars Theatrical[3] August 9, 2013
The Pirate Fairy[3] Disney Fairies Theatrical (limited release) April 1, 2014
Planes: Fire & Rescue Cars Theatrical[3] July 18, 2014
Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast Disney Fairies Theatrical (limited release)[43] January 30, 2015

Short films

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[8][44]
The Three Little Pigs[45][46][47] Festival 1998
The Cat That Looked at a King Direct-to-video: DVD extra December 14, 2004 Mary Poppins 40th Anniversary DVD[37]
Legend of the Chihuahua Direct-to-video: DVD extra March 9, 2009 Beverly Hills Chihuahua DVD[48]
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

See also

  • List of Disney home entertainment


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