Why Did Disney Stop Making TV Shows Based on Their Films?

Via: Wikipedia

Whatever happened to all the TV series’ that Disney used to put out after a theatrical film was released? Is it a practise that died off with the turn of the century? It’s hard to tell, but the untimely death of the traditional animation unit may have been something to do with it.

The fact occurred to me this morning as I was scrambling around for something to write about. My postulation is that they simply don’t make the kind of films that lend themselves easily to such treatment any more. For one, CGI is now king, and creating a CGI TV series can be much, much harder than a traditionally animated one, especially if you are geared up and staffed for the latter.

Disney has decided that it either isn’t worthwhile creating a CGI TV show, or that the kind of movies they have put out recently do not lend themselves easily to the concept (read: CGI). Films like Chicken Little, Bolt and The Princess and the Frog are not quite flexible enough to be capable of the tweaks that are necessary for the small box. Tangled has a similar problem, but that could be overcome in a way not unlike The Genie in Aladdin. I am quite certain that the closure of the traditional animation department also contributed to the end of such programmes.

As much as I abhor the practice and its nagging habit of denying the place of an original, creator-driven show, you can’t deny that the quality of the Disney movie-shows was decently high, both animation and story-wise. It also kept costs that wee bit lower and the studio was able to eliminate the risk of a series if they used a successful film that came with a ready-made audience.

I am not advocating a return to the practise, I’m just pointing out that it did provide some benefits to the animation industry as a whole. DreamWorks must have recognized this as they have taken up the mantle in recent times, with shows based on Madagascar 2, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. Of course, DreamWorks is an independent studio, so there is much more pressure on them to maximize their creations to the hilt and TV can be a very lucrative way of extending the life of your films.

As I’ve mentioned before, ideally, theatrical films would be much easier to make and to predict the performance of if they were based on a TV show. SpongeBob did it to great success so why can’t someone else replicate the same? That is something studios should focus even more on in this day and age.

2 Comments on “Why Did Disney Stop Making TV Shows Based on Their Films?

  1. That favorite target of animation fans the direct-to-video sequel may have had a hand in it as well. Though some of them served as pilots for movie-based TV shows, I think Disney started looking to the sequels as the way to extend the lifespan of their major franchises.

    Though Disney’s turn away from traditional hand-drawn animation probably had a lot to do with the drop in shows based on their animated movies, I don’t think the fact that most of their recent movies have been computer animated would stop them from making a spinoff TV series had they really wanted to. After all, “101 Dalmatians: The Series” was based not so much on the animated feature as the live-action remake that came out around the same time. So making a hand-drawn TV series based on a CGI movie wouldn’t have been that different. As you point out, the lack of a good place to put new material – before, after, or during the story of the film – may be equally to blame. I think something could be worked out for “Chicken Little” given the inclination, but the rest are pretty closed narratives.

    If you haven’t noticed, I’m enjoying your site very much.

Leave a Response

Original Content License