Disneytoon Studios

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Disneytoon Studios
FormerlyDisney MovieToons (1990–2003)
Disney Video Premieres (1994–2003)
Company typeDivision[1]
IndustryMotion pictures
FoundedApril 1, 1990; 34 years ago (1990-04-01)
FounderThe Walt Disney Company
DefunctJune 28, 2018; 5 years ago (2018-06-28)[2]
HeadquartersDisney Grand Central Creative Campus, ,
Area served
Key people
ProductsAnimated films
Number of employees
75 (2018)[2]

Disneytoon Studios (DTS),[a] originally named Disney MovieToons[5] and also formerly Walt 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 44 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]


Disney MovieToons/Walt Disney Video Premieres

Disney MovieToons logo as seen on DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp

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 (DTV) 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), The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000) 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 (2005) 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 known that he disliked Disneytoon's sequels and prequels, as he felt that they were undercutting the value of the original feature films. 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, Morrill, 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 Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941), The Aristocats (1970), Chicken Little (2005), and Meet the Robinsons (2007) 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 what he called "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 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]

Since 2019, the studio building has been used as a third building for new productions for Disney Television Animation with Roberts being promoted new CEO at Disney Television Animation after the departure of long-time CEO Eric Coleman in 2019.[28][29][30][31][32]


Feature films

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.[33]

# Title Franchise Release date Release type Animation Service(s) Other Studio(s)
Disney MovieToons / Disney Video Premieres
1 DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp DuckTales August 3, 1990 Theatrical Disney Animation France[5] Walt Disney Pictures
2 The Return of Jafar Aladdin May 20, 1994 Direct-to-video Disney Animation Australia[9]
Disney Animation Japan
Walt Disney Television Animation
3 A Goofy Movie Goof Troop April 7, 1995 Theatrical
Walt Disney Pictures
4 Aladdin and the King of Thieves Aladdin August 13, 1996 Direct-to video Disney Animation Australia
Disney Animation Japan[9]
Walt Disney Television Animation
5 Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin[11][34] Winnie the Pooh August 5, 1997 Disney Animation Japan
6 Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Beauty and the Beast November 11, 1997 Disney Animation Canada[11]
7 Belle's Magical World February 17, 1998 N/A
8 Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World Pocahontas August 25, 1998
  • Disney Animation Australia
  • Disney Animation Canada
  • Disney Animation Japan[35]
9 The Lion King II: Simba's Pride The Lion King October 27, 1998 Disney Animation Australia[11]
10 Seasons of Giving Winnie the Pooh November 9, 1999 Disney Animation Australia[11]
11 An Extremely Goofy Movie Goof Troop February 29, 2000 Disney Animation Australia[36]
12 The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea The Little Mermaid September 19, 2000 Disney Animation Canada[37] Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Television Animation
13 Return to Never Land Peter Pan February 15, 2002 Theatrical
  • Disney Animation Australia
  • Disney Animation Canada
  • Disney Animation Japan[35]
  • Cornerstone Animation[38]
14 Cinderella II: Dreams Come True Cinderella February 26, 2002 Direct-to-video Disney Animation Japan
15 The Hunchback of Notre Dame II The Hunchback of Notre Dame March 19, 2002 Disney Animation Japan
Disney MovieToons (Under Walt Disney Feature Animation)
16 The Jungle Book 2 The Jungle Book February 14, 2003 Theatrical
Walt Disney Pictures
17 Piglet's Big Movie Winnie the Pooh March 21, 2003 Disney Animation Japan[16]
18 Atlantis: Milo's Return Atlantis: The Lost Empire May 20, 2003 Direct-to-video N/A Walt Disney Television Animation
Disneytoon Studios
19 The Lion King 1½ The Lion King February 10, 2004 Direct-to-video Disney Animation Australia
Cornerstone Animation[38]
Walt Disney Pictures
20 Springtime with Roo Winnie the Pooh March 9, 2004 N/A
21 Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers Mickey Mouse August 17, 2004 Disney Animation Australia[36]
22 Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas November 9, 2004 Blur Studio
23 Mulan II Mulan February 1, 2005 Disney Animation Japan[16]
24 Pooh's Heffalump Movie Winnie the Pooh February 11, 2005 Theatrical Disney Animation Japan[16]
25 Tarzan II Tarzan June 14, 2005 Direct-to-video Disney Animation Australia[36]
26 Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch Lilo & Stitch August 30, 2005 Disney Animation Australia[36]
27 Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie Winnie the Pooh September 13, 2005 Project Firefly[40]
28 Kronk's New Groove The Emperor's New Groove December 13, 2005 N/A
29 Bambi II Bambi February 7, 2006 Direct-to-video/Theatrical Disney Animation Australia[36]
30 Brother Bear 2 Brother Bear August 29, 2006 Direct-to-video Disney Animation Australia[36]
Project Firefly[40]
31 The Fox and the Hound 2 The Fox and the Hound December 12, 2006 Disney Animation Australia[36]
32 Cinderella III: A Twist in Time Cinderella February 6, 2007 Disney Animation Australia[36]
33 Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams Disney Princess September 4, 2007 N/A N/A
34 The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning The Little Mermaid August 26, 2008 N/A Walt Disney Pictures
35 Tinker Bell Disney Fairies October 28, 2008 Direct-to-video/Theatrical Prana Studios[41][42]
36 Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure October 27, 2009
37 Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue September 21, 2010
38 Secret of the Wings October 23, 2012 Theatrical
39 Planes Cars August 9, 2013
40 The Pirate Fairy[3] Disney Fairies April 1, 2014
41 Planes: Fire & Rescue Cars July 18, 2014
42 Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast Disney Fairies March 3, 2015

Television specials

Title Release type Release date Franchise
Pixie Hollow Games Television special November 18, 2011 Disney Fairies
Pixie Hollow Bake Off October 20, 2013

Short films

Title Release type Release date Franchise
The Cat That Looked at a King Direct-to-video: DVD extra December 14, 2004 Mary Poppins 40th Anniversary DVD
Winnie the Pooh: Shapes and Sizes Direct-to-video October 12, 2004 Winnie the Pooh
The Origin of Stitch Direct-to-video: DVD extra August 30, 2005 Lilo & Stitch[43]
Winnie the Pooh: Wonderful Word Adventure Direct-to-video August 1, 2006 Winnie the Pooh
Legend of the Chihuahua Direct-to-video: DVD extra March 9, 2009 Beverly Hills Chihuahua DVD[44]
Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular Direct-to-video November 4, 2014 Cars, on Planes: Fire & Rescue DVD

Box office grosses (for theatrical releases only)

Film Budget Opening Domestic Worldwide
DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp $20 million $3.8 million $18.1 million
A Goofy Movie $18 million $6.1 million $35.3 million $37.6 million
Return to Never Land $20 million $11.9 million $48.4 million $115.1 million
The Jungle Book 2 $20 million $11.4 million $47.9 million $135.7 million
Piglet's Big Movie $46 million $6 million $23.1 million $62.9 million
Pooh's Heffalump Movie $20 million $5.8 million $18 million $52.9 million
Bambi II $34.9 million
Tinker Bell $50 million $9.1 million
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure $30–35 million $8.5 million
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue $30–35 million $10.8 million
Secret of the Wings $30–35 million
Planes $50 million $22.2 million $90.2 million $240.1 million
The Pirate Fairy $63.9 million
Planes: Fire & Rescue $50 million $17.5 million $59.1 million $146.9 million
Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast $31.8 million

See also


  1. ^ Usually stylized as DisneyToon Studios.


  1. ^ a b c Baisley, Sarah (June 21, 2007). "Disneytoon Studios Prexy Morrill Steps Down". Animation World Network. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Desowitz, Bill (June 28, 2018). "Disney Shuts Down Disneytoon Studios in Glendale: Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
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  28. ^ "Bryan O'Connell on Instagram: "When one door closes... ——————————————————————— Not sure I can fully express how amazing the two years working at Disneytoon Studios has been. The people. The culture. The work. It was all worth it to walk through these doors on a daily basis. Not only that, the last two years saw a lot of change for Geada and I as we planned our wedding and grew as a couple. Lots of amazing changes have happened and will continue to happen. I couldn't have made it through these years without Geada, my family, and the people at Disneytoon."". Instagram. Retrieved 2023-02-05.
  29. ^ "Menji on Instagram: "Some other rando pics from Disney TV. THEY HAVE GUMMY BEARS IN THE BREAK AREA! 😍 Must return soon!"". Instagram. Retrieved 2023-02-05.
  30. ^ "David Lyman on Instagram: "First it was 2 weeks. Then it was 6 months. Well after 2 1/2 years - I'm back!"". Instagram. Retrieved 2023-02-05.
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  43. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "The Origin Of Stitch". YouTube.
  44. ^ "Beverly Hills Chihuahua – Animated Views".