When it comes to providing great entertainment, much of it suitable for the entire family, Disney reigns supreme. From its animation studio to its work with Pixar to its live-action films, Disney remains one of the most beloved movie studios of all time.
The company is also no stranger to imaginative storytelling. Disney has a knack for taking traditional fairy tales and turning them on their head, giving princesses and princes happily ever afters and making heroes out of young boys and girls. The studio is so full of ideas, though, that not all of their film concepts ever make it to the silver screen, and, unfortunately, that’s a shame.
Disney often cancels projects, especially when other films get in the way and become priorities. But sometimes, those canceled projects seem really interesting and fans can’t help but wonder what those projects might have become. There is no room in Hollywood for “what ifs,” but if there were, these canceled projects will leave fans disappointed that they never came to fruition. These are movies that will never make it to the real world and get left on a shelf collecting dust. And that’s just a pity.
Here are 15 Canceled Disney Movies We’ll Never Get To See.
15. Tron: Ascension
Tron fans might find themselves upset to know that there was almost a third installment in the Tron series of films. Tron: Ascension (or Tron III) would have acted as a sequel to Tron: Legacy.
In 2013, director Joseph Kosinski was not only attached to the project, but also spoke about it in an interview, saying that the movie was in its early stages and that it would build off of what happened in the last five minutes of Legacy.
Two years later, though, Disney scrapped the idea, with sources admitting that the film never received the green light in the first place. Supposedly, though, both Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund agreed to return to their roles from the previous film, with the possible addition of Jared Leto to the cast.
The most recent canceled Disney project is Gigantic, which the company revealed at the 2015 D23. The film would act as retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk with “comedy and deep emotion” with a setting in Spain during the Age of Exploration. Disney tapped Frozen songwriters Robert Lopez and Kirsten Anderson-Lopez for the movie’s songs and even had them perform one on stage at that announcement event.
But Gigantic had some creative delays, even after Disney hired Inside Out writer Meg LeFauve to co-write and direct the movie. In the end, Disney had to admit defeat and stated that the movie’s concept just wasn’t there.
Disney announced a new project with Pixar in 2008 called Newt. The film would follow the last two blue-footed newts on the planet, a male and female, who get forced together by scientists to save their species. But the film offered up a good conflict: the two newts couldn’t stand each other. It seemed like a really fun concept at the time, certainly something that a feature film could focus on, but ultimately, Disney decided that the project just wasn’t as exciting as it initially seemed.
The film got canceled in 2010, but it still had a reference in Toy Story 3: there is a “newt crossing” sign in Andy’s room. There’s also a reference in Brave: a newt goes into the potion brewed up by the witch.
12. Where the Wild Things Are
Although Maurice Sendak’s popular children’s book Where the Wild Things Are eventually did get a film adaptation in 2009 by Universal, Disney had plans to turn the book into an animated movie long before that. In 1983, Pixar’s chief creative director, John Lasseter, created a 30-second animation test video for the story.
At the time, Disney owned the rights to adapt the book. The idea for the film was to blend traditional animation with digital animation to create something that was new at the time. However, the project never went any further than that. Universal eventually bought the rights to the book in 2001 and created its own adaptation mixing live action and digital animation, with Spike Jonez directing. Unfortunately, Universal considered the film a commercial flop.
11. Fraidy Cat
Fraidy Cat is one of those Disney movies that fans probably would really want to see. On paper, it sounds like a really cool concept: the movie would follow a cat afraid of everything in a comedy thriller that paid homage to Alfred Hitchcock movies. Early concept art and animation from the movie looked really good, but for some reason, Disney decided that it wasn’t worthy to hit the silver screens and the project got scrapped.
Rumors speculate that the higher-ups at Disney decided that the movie was too obscure because of its reference to Alfred Hitchcock movies. Even though Disney had Ron Clements & John Musker (The Rescuers, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules) on board to head up the film, Disney pulled their own “fraidy cat” act and decided not go forward with the project in 2005.
10. Catfish Bend
Catfish Bend was originally a book series by Ben Lucien Burman that followed the animal residents of a place called, well, Catfish Bend, Mississippi. That sounds about perfect for Disney, right?
Although Disney acquired rights to the then three books to go forward with a film adaptation, that movie never got greenlit. Disney sort of just sat on it and then eventually dropped its options for the books. Disney art director, writer and animator Ken Anderson (Robin Hood) was once attached to the project, but it ultimately became yet another shelved idea that never saw the light of day.
Chanticleer is one of those Disney movies that the company wanted to make for over 20 years, but just never got around to actually doing it. Based on the French Play “Chantecler” by Edmund Rostand, the story of the movie would follow a vain rooster who thought the sun only rose in the morning because of him calling for it.
Disney set its sights on the tale in the 1940s, but the villain of the story, a fox named Reynard, actually went on to become its own movie idea (also canceled) by Disney called Reynard the Fox. At the time, Disney had too many projects to handle, which meant that it fell by the wayside.
The idea behind Disney’s Hiawatha movie actually started as a 1937 Silly Symphony animated short featuring the main character from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem. Disney liked the character so much, though, that the company wanted to make a full-length feature film about the adult version of Hiawatha.
Disney came up with a basic concept for the movie, as well as created concept art, but the project never ventured any further than that. It’s sad that the film never made it to the big screen: Disney had plans on making it an artistic impression piece similar to what it did with Fantasia. But the company decided that it did not need another Fantasia, and tossed out the idea. In 1949, Hiawatha got shelved for good.
7. Louis the Bear
Italian American singer, musician, and actor Louis Prima made such a splash in The Jungle Book as the voice of King Louie, which released in 1967, that the company decided that the actor needed to star in a movie of his own. In Louis the Bear, Disney wanted Prima to voice a new character, a bear who escaped from a zoo with the help of some mice (that concept later became The Rescuers). But the movie never got made because of some very sad happenings within the company: Walt Disney died and Prima got diagnosed with a brain tumor.
6. My Peoples
In 2003, Disney made plans to make an animated feature about a ghost and three kids who want to bring a pair of lovers who come from two opposing families in 1940s Appalachia. The ghosts possess mountain folk art dolls (including a doll representing Abraham Lincoln) so that they can interact with the world of the living. This was My Peoples, a film that already had a variety of other titles before the studio decided on that one.
Not only did the film have an awesome premise, but its cast list was Hollywood royalty and featured Dolly Parton, Charles Dunning, Hal Holbrook, and Lily Tomlin. It almost sounds like something by Tim Burton. Unfortunately, though, creative differences kept the movie from ever getting off the ground.
5. Yellow Submarine
One movie that probably belongs in the Disney graveyard is the studio’s planned remake of Yellow Submarine, based on the 1968 Beatles movie that sent the band to a magical place called Pepperland where they lived in a yellow submarine and battled villains known as the Blue Meanies.
At one point, Robert Zemeckis planned to act as director of Disney’s remake using motion capture technology. So what happened? Although we might want to wish Disney discovered common sense, the company had second thoughts about the remake after the flop of Mars Needs Moms, which was also a motion capture movie made by Robert Zemeckis. Disney also had concerns about the technology.
4. The Gremlins
Don’t confuse this version of The Gremlins with the horror movie starring Gizmo. These Gremlins were actually the subject of a children’s book by Roald Dahl in 1943.
During WWII, the Royal Air Force often blamed gremlins, mythical little creatures, on any mishaps or mechanical problems that pilots had with airplanes. Dahl took that idea and created a book about these airplane-destroying creatures, although in the book, they eventually redeemed themselves by learning to repair airplanes instead.
Disney had plans of making a movie out of the book, and even had two screenplays written before tossing the project aside. The company had also released a promotional book that would tie into the movie – a book that is now a huge collector’s item (good luck finding that on eBay).
3. One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
In 2004, Clive Woodall wrote a fantasy novel called One for Sorrow, Two for Joy. That story begins in a bird kingdom, Birddom, where darkness has fallen across the land. Magpies and crows now terrorize that world, hunting and killing all other birds that live there. They do this under the leadership of a mad bird named Slyekin. One lone robin takes it upon himself to make a journey that will take him to the edges of Birddom to face off against those destroying the world.
Sounds like a great plot for a movie, right? Disney thought so and negotiated with Woodall to get the rights to adapt the story for a movie. Unfortunately, since then, there is no word if this movie will ever actually happen.
2. Rainbow Road to Oz
One of the most beloved movies of all time is The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 film which introduced moviegoers to a magical land of witches, tin mans, scarecrows, and talking lions. That world originally creating in the Oz books by Frank L. Baum was so magical that it also inspired Disney to want to make its own version of the tale, starring Mouseketeers in the main roles: Darlene Gillespie as Dorothy, Annette Funicello as Ozma, Bobby Burgess as the Scarecrow, Tommy Kirk as the son of the Wicked Witch of the West, and Doreen Tracey as the Patchwork Girl.
Disney even aired previews of the movie on TV in 1957, but it never got released. Rumors suggest that the first movie was so popular on TV (it originally aired on TV in 1956) that Disney couldn’t compete.
1. Uncle Stiltskin
Before Robert Carlyle appeared as Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon A Time calling everyone “dearie” and reminding them that “magic has a price,” Disney had an idea that would feature the more traditional version of the character in an animated feature.
That story would follow the Brothers Grimm version of the character, picking up where that tale left off. The concept behind the movie was that he was at it again: ready to kidnap yet another child and make them stay locked up somewhere to spin straw into gold. But in Uncle Stiltskin, he dreams of becoming a father and actually learns about the true meaning of family.
That movie never happened, but fans still saw the character redeemed (sort of) on Once Upon A Time.
Which of these canceled Disney movies would you most want to watch? Let us know in the comments!
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