Very few things in this world elicit as many emotions as the word “Disney”. The name has accompanied childhoods all around the globe, perhaps even shaped children into the adults they are today. But close your eyes, think of Walt Disney and what do you see? Mickey Mouse having a selfie with tourists in one of the globe’s Disney park perhaps? Peter Pan taking you to (slot) Neverland or Cinderella charming all and sundry en route to the ball on celluloid? Yet it all began before Mickey and Cinders were even a thing.
In 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs became the first ever stars of a full-length Disney animated feature. If you don’t believe us check out our infographic, which shows the route from Snow White right through to the Disney productions that are currently still ongoing via every sequel, prequel, stage musical, spin-off, live action movie and TV series that has carried the Disney name.
Of course, we’re biased, but to us it makes for an interesting read and encapsulates in a single graphic the entire Disney journey, which began two years before the onset of the Second World War.
Take Snow White as the example. The graphic shows there was an official Disney endorsed stage musical version of the film in the late 1970s, which followed in 2001 with a video game and other in the early 2010s. Apart from all other creations it spawned, from merchandise to themed online games, it shows that a spin-off – by the name of Rose Red – is at the development stage and is planned for the early 2020s.
A quick whizz down the infographic shows there to be a catalogue of 30 Disney ‘originals’ (those in black), starting with Snow White and currently ending with Frozen, with there being a sprinkling of live action films scattered among a list of some of the most famous animated films ever made. And such has been the success of the Disney brand, that on the timeline there is just one single film that didn’t spawn any type of spin-off at all: the very popular 1970 animation The Aristocats, which told the tale of a family of aristocratic cats and their unlikely alliance with an alley cat. This was the last film project approved by Disney himself before his death.
That this was his last film is unlikely to be linked to the fact there was no type of sequel or spin off but it remains very much of an oddity in a genre where those have very much become the lucrative norm, although not as lucrative as these casino bonuses we offer you.
On the opposite side of that particular coin is Toy Story which, following the launch of the original digital animation in 1995, has spawned no less the 25 separate spin-offs - ranging from video games to animated shorts to ice shows to sequels; each and every one another dollar-laden boost to the Toy Story and Disney brand.
In the silver medal position for the spin-off crown is the massively popular Cars that, like Toy Story, also triggered the full gamut of spin offs, including two sequels and six video games.
In addition to Disney’s skill at squeezing every last drop of success and money out of a franchise, as displayed by the very crowded timelines on the graphic, several other trends emerge, one in particular being their ability to identify a film that has scope to become a TV series.
A quick skim down the graphic reveals a series of thirteen amber dots, each one a Disney classic that has been morphed into a series for the small screen, among them Honey, I Shrunk the Kids from 1989, Sing Me a Story with Belle (resulting from Beauty and the Beast), and The Lion Guard, which was a product of The Lion King. Others included Hercules: The Animated Series, The Legend of Tarzan and, arguably the most successful of all on the small screen, Lilo and Stitch; the latter spawning two TV series and three movie sequels.
Perhaps one of the most surprising stats to emerge from the graphic is that - *blue dot alert - no less than 80 video games have emerged from the Disney originals; that’s 80 games derived from 30 films. Clearly video games were not even a thing until the 1980s and the early versions were rather less sophisticated than the games we have today and trust MrGamez, he has played them all. However, starting with Fantasia – an animation from 1940 that finally made it as a video game some 40 years later – and peaking with Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars, which have each produced no less than nine video game spin offs, the gaming fraternity is now almost as much a part of the Disney’s target audience as the traditional cinema goer.
Yet for all the offshoots, at the core of Disney’s global success are movies, specifically movies designed to capture the imagination of kids of all ages. And in a sparkly nutshell they have done it more successfully than any other studio in the history of Hollywood.
Some may baulk at the undiluted and unashamed commerciality of their product but there’s no denying it’s a cash cow that keeps on giving. Today, they operate on the basis that the initial movie is only the beginning. What the Disney business model therefore relies on is the company being at the forefront of new innovations and one thing they can never be accused of is standing still.
That’s why the latest trend is for them to take an animated classic and turn it into a live action films, incorporating all that 21st century digital imagery has to offer. The first to undergo this treatment was 101 Dalmatians in which Glenn Close famously took on the role of Cruella de Vil in 1996; the role reprised four years later in 102 Dalmatians.
Others to transform from animation to live action include Flubber, Alice Through the Looking Glass and The Jungle Book but it’s three Disney classics that have taken this genre to a new level in recent years. First up was Alice in Wonderland – Johnny Depp playing the Mad Hatter – and more recently Cinderella and Beauty & the Beast have successfully made that same transition.
Love it or hate it, the Disney gravy train shows no sign of slowing down.