For decades, Walt Disney Pictures resisted the urge to create sequels to their classic animated films. It wasn’t until 1990 that a sequel, The Rescuers Down Under, was actually made and released. That film, though (a sequel to 1977’s The Rescuers), was released into theaters. A few years later, Disney discovered a much cheaper and more lucrative opportunity: direct-to-video films.
By releasing their new sequels directly to VHS (and later DVD), Disney could use cheaper animation. They could also hire less experienced writers and directors. If need be, they could even replace the original voice actors.
The new trend began with 1994’s Aladdin sequel, The Return of Jafar. For more than a decade, Disney pumped out animated direct-to-video sequels quite regularly. After Disney acquired Pixar in 2006 and John Lasseter was made Chief Creative Officer, the sequel business was put to an end. Many executives at Disney felt they undercut the value of the original movies by offering subpar experiences.
Here’s a look at five of those Disney direct-to-video sequels you might have just forgotten about:
Released in 2006, Bambi II was one of the final direct-to-video sequels. Technically, though, it wasn’t a sequel to Bambi at all. It’s what’s referred to as a “midquel,” meaning that it takes place in the middle of the original Bambi. Patrick Stewart takes over the role of The Great Prince as young Bambi tries to win over his approval. A third film was planned but was cancelled when the direct-to-video films were ended.
Another midquel, this sequel to 1999’s Tarzan was released in 2005. Glenn Close and Lance Henriksen returned to voice Kala and Kerchack. Singer/songwriter Phil Collins even wrote two new songs for the sequel. George Carlin, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman, and Estelle Harris played new characters that young Tarzan encounters.
101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure
Most people tend to forget there was a sequel to 101 Dalmatians. Mainly that’s due to the fact that a different 101 Dalmatians sequel was released just three years prior. In 2000, Disney released 102 Dalmatians, the sequel to the live-action 101 Dalmatians adaptation starring Glenn Close. Only three years later in 2003, this sequel to the original animated classic was released direct-to-video.
Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure
Just a few years prior, Disney released a sequel to another classic animated movie about dogs. Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure follows a similar formula to 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure. Both movies are about the son of the original characters going out on an adventure of their own.
The Fox and the Hound 2
Another Disney direct-to-video film and, yes, another midquel. The Fox and the Hound 2 takes place while Todd and Copper are still young. (Which means it’s before things get depressingly sad). Disney was aiming hard at country music fans with this one. Reba McIntyre and Patrick Swayze play the leaders of a new gang of dogs the pups encounter. A group of up-and-coming country and bluegrass singers contributed to the soundtrack.