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Mighty Ducks Was Disney's Most Important Franchise (Before Pirates)

Before Marvel, Star Wars, and even Pirates of the Caribbean became the focus of Disney, their key live-action franchise was The Mighty Ducks.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow and The Mighty Ducks

The Mighty Ducks franchise reigned as Disney's most successful franchise before Pirates of the Caribbean came along - and before Disney's stream of acquisitions in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The 1992 sports-comedy spawned two sequels in the '90s and a number of other business endeavors. The Pirates of the Caribbean film series began with 2003's The Curse of the Black Pearl, seven years after The Mighty Ducks trilogy came to an end.

Disney is the most expansive multimedia conglomerate in history. Since starting off in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney Studios grew into one of the biggest film studios, even more so now that they own major brands like Marvel, Star Wars, and all titles that encompassed 20th Century Fox. That's not to say that Disney wasn't already ahead of the pack before acquiring those franchises. Prior to expanding their ownership, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was the studios' most important live-action focus. It's no coincidence that the development of the Pirates franchise slowed down after Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 and Star Wars in 2012. The fourth film, On Stranger Tides, kept up with its 2011 release but it took six years for the fifth film, Dead Men Tell No Tales, to hit theaters.

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Before Disney decided to create a franchise based on their beloved theme park ride, The Mighty Ducks stood as the studio's biggest commercial success in the live-action category. The series focused on a ragtag peewee hockey team from the Twin Cities area that had a habit of coming in last within their division. Their newest coach, Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez), then took over the team and taught the fundamentals of the sport. Their newfound glory took them on a winning streak which was continued in D2: The Mighty Ducks when a version of the team competed as Team USA in the Junior Goodwill Games. The third and final film, D3: The Mighty Ducks, shifted focus to Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson) and his teammates' struggles playing hockey for Eden Hall Academy. Aside from the box office performance, which brought in over $100 million, the movies had a lasting effect on its viewers, especially those who grew up with the films.

The Mighty Ducks

A year after the first Mighty Ducks film debuted, The Walt Disney Company ended up creating an NHL hockey team. The name, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, was directly inspired by the movie about the youth hockey team from Minnesota. The logo used by the NHL team was the same design used by the kids in the 1994 film. The sequel also featured a number of professional hockey players including Wayne Gretzky, Chris Chelios, Luc Robitaille, and Cam Neely. The team grew a fanbase well outside of Anaheim due to the popularity of the Mighty Ducks movies. In 2005, Disney ended up selling the franchise. A year later, the general manager of the team dropped the "Mighty" and shortened the name to the Anaheim Ducks. The team subsequently changed its logo and colors but they recently paid tribute to their original uniforms.

Despite being one of Disney's most profitable franchises, The Mighty Ducks trilogy will not be included in the list of titles during the launch of Disney+. This is a bit surprising considering the reports revealing that the company has discussed rebooting the franchise as a TV series. Fans, however, will be able to find Mighty Ducks, the unrelated animated series, on launch day. As for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, only the first film will be available at Disney+'s launch but the others will surely be added in the near future. There are still plans for a sixth Pirates film but it will be interesting to see what Disney does with some of their past franchises once their streaming service gets up and running.

Next: Every Exclusive Movie & TV Show Coming To Disney Plus

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