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The Ultimate DisneyToon Studios Animated Film Guide: 2010-2015

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The Ultimate Disney MovieToons & DisneyToon Studios Animated Film Guide
1990-1999 | 2000-2002 | 2003-2005 | 2006-2009 | 2010-2015

DisneyToon Studios was the second animation studio founded by the Walt Disney Company organisation. Unlike the prestigious Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios dealt with low-budget animated productions which often had limited cinema or direct-to-video releases. It had been founded in 1990 as Disney MovieToons with the aim of adapting Disney's popular television cartoon series, made by Walt Disney Television Animation1, for the big screen. It involved teams of animators in Disney-owned studios based all around the world2.

It soon began churning out sequels to many of Walt Disney Animation Studios' most successful films. Although animated films are by their nature a commercial art form, the studio, renamed DisneyToon Studios in 2003 and placed under the control of Sharon Morrill, soon gained a reputation for emphasising commercial success to the point that the artistic merit of what was released was considered irrelevant. They even released Disney Television Animation's half-finished abandoned projects, leading to further criticisms and associations of poor quality with the Studio's outputs.

Disney acquired a more prestigious animation studio following the merger with Pixar in 2006. This merger led to Pixar's John Lasseter becoming Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. In 2007 he also gained control over DisneyToon Studios after the film Tinker Bell's budget spiralled out of control and led to Sharon Morrill being fired. He believed DisneyToon Studios should develop their own identity and their policy of making sequels to classic films was demeaning and detracted from the originals. By 2010 only the Tinker Bell series remained, although plans were underway to develop a second series loosely inspired by Pixar's Cars films.

Below is a summary of the last films made by DisneyToon Studios, from 42 to 47. Recurring characters and actors are shown in Bold as well as whether the films were released in the cinema or went direct-to-video. Also mentioned is whether the films pass The Bechdel Test (this can be summarised as whether the film involves two or more named female characters who have a conversation together that does not include or mention any male characters). The film's European runtime is also included3.

42. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010)

DirectorBradley Raymond
ReleaseCinema
PlotWhen bringing summer to the mainland, Tinker Bell is captured by a nine-year-old girl called Lizzy. Lizzy tries to persuade her distracted father, who has no time for her, that fairies exist.
Length77 minutes
SettingEngland, near London, in the Edwardian era
Animation TypeCGI
InspirationPeter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by JM Barrie (play 1904, novel 1911)
Characters
  • Tinker Bell, a tinker fairy (Mae Whitman)
  • Vidia, fast-flying fairy (Pamela Adlon)
  • Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Griffiths, girl who believes in fairies (Lauren Mote)
  • Dr Griffiths, her pre-occupied father (Michael Sheen)
  • Silvermist, a water fairy (Lucy Liu)
  • Iridessa, a light fairy (Raven-Symoné)
  • Rosetta, a garden fairy (Kristin Chenoweth)
  • Fawn, an animal fairy (Angela Bartys)
  • Bobble, tinker fairy4 (Rob Paulsen)
  • Clank, tinker fairy (Jeff Bennett)
  • Terence, pixie dust keeper (Jesse McCartney)
MusicScore composed by Joel McNeely, songs:
  • 'Summer's Just Begun' by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda
  • 'Come Flying with Me' music by Joel McNeely, lyrics by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda
  • 'How to Believe' by Adam Iscove
Spin Off Of
  • Peter Pan (1953) (57 years earlier)
Films in Series
  • 1. Tinker Bell (2008)
  • 2. Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009)
  • 4. Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings (2012)
  • 5. Tinker Bell: The Pirate Fairy (2014)
  • 6. Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (2015)
Bechdel TestPass

This is the only film in the series not to be set in Pixie Hollow. It would appear that the Griffiths live southeast of London, but London looks quite small with Big Ben being near the countryside. Dr Griffiths, despite being an English character, uses Americanisms such as 'trunk' rather than 'boot'.

43. Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings (2012)

DirectorPeggy Holmes
ReleaseBrief cinematic run
PlotThe fairies are preparing for winter but the Winter Woods, where it is always cold, are strictly off limits. Tinker Bell, rebellious, crosses the border and finds herself drawn in as her wings start sparkling. She learns that she has a sister, Periwinkle, born of the same child's laugh, who lives as a frost fairy in the Winter Woods and has identical wings. Yet Lord Milori has decreed that frost fairy and summer fairy cannot mix - if a summer fairy spends too long in winter, or a winter fairy spends time in summer, their wings will tear and they will lose the ability to fly. Will Tinker Bell and Periwinkle be separated, will Tink's ingenuity allow them to spend time together, and will they unite when the Pixie Dust Tree is threatened?
Length75 minutes
SettingPixie Hollow and the Winter Woods, Neverland
Animation TypeCGI
InspirationPeter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by JM Barrie (play 1904, novel 1911)
Characters
  • Tinker Bell, a tinker fairy (Mae Whitman)
  • Periwinkle, frost fairy and Tinker Bell's sister (Lucy Hale)
  • Lord Milori, Lord of Winter (Timothy Dalton)
  • Silvermist, a water fairy (Lucy Liu)
  • Iridessa, a light fairy (Raven-Symoné)
  • Vidia, fast-flying fairy (Pamela Adlon)
  • Fawn, an animal fairy (Angela Bartys)
  • Fairy Mary, chief tinker (Jane Horrocks)
  • Rosetta, a garden fairy (Megan Hilty)
  • Bobble, tinker fairy (Rob Paulsen)
  • Queen Clarion, ruler of Pixie Hollow (Anjelica Huston)
  • Clank, tinker fairy (Jeff Bennett)
  • Dewey, frost fairy and Keeper of Fairy Knowledge (Jeff Bennett)
  • Scribble, librarian fairy (Thomas Lennon)
  • Narrator (Anjelica Huston)
  • Terence, pixie dust keeper (Jesse McCartney)
Spin Off Of
  • Peter Pan (1953) – 59 years earlier
MusicScore composed by Joel McNeely, songs by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda:
  • 'We'll Be There'
  • 'The Great Divide'
Films in Series
  • 1. Tinker Bell (2008)
  • 2. Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009)
  • 3. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010)
  • 5. Tinker Bell: The Pirate Fairy (2014)
  • 6. Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (2015)
Bechdel TestPass

Another highly enjoyable entry in the Tinker Bell series, concentrating on the value of friendship, and unifying in the face of adversity. There are some enjoyable touches, with Scribble the librarian fairy facially resembling Stephen Hawking while the Keeper looks just like Einstein. Megan Hilty replaces Kristin Chenoweth as Rosetta.

44. Planes (2013)

DirectorKlay Hall
ReleaseCinema
PlotCrop-dusting aeroplane Dusty Crophopper longs to be a racing aircraft. Supported by his friends, fuel tanker Chug and forklift Dottie, and mentored by former US Navy aircraft Skipper, Dusty just qualifies for the Wings Across the Globe race. How will the racing aircraft react to having a crop-duster in their midst, and can a crop-duster really win a round-the-world air race?
Length88 minutes
SettingAll around the same world as Cars, with sentient vehicles instead of people
Animation TypeCGI
InspirationPixar's Cars film series
Aeroplanes
  • Dusty Crophopper, inspired by various crop-dusting aircraft (Dane Cook)
  • Skipper Riley, US Navy Chance Vought F4U Corsair (Stacey Keach)
  • Ripslinger, arrogant American racing champion P-51D Mustang (Roger Craig Smith)
  • Bulldog, British racer based on de Havilland DH.88 Comet (John Cleese)
  • El Chupacabra, Mexican Gee Bee Model R and friend of Dusty (Carlos Alazraqui)
  • Ishani, Pan-Asian racer inspired by AeroCad AeroCanard (Priyanka Chopra)
  • Leadbottom, biplane crop-duster inspired by Boeing-Stearman Model 75 (Cedric the Entertainer)
  • Rochele, Canadian racing Bay Super V Bonanza (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
  • Echo and Bravo, Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets (Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards)
  • UK: Lofty Crofty, US: Colin Cowling, an airship (UK: David Croft, US: Colin Cowherd)
Cars
  • Chug, a fuel tanker and Dusty's best friend (Brad Garrett)
  • Dottie, forklift truck and engineer (Teri Hatcher)
  • Sparky, Skipper's forklift truck (Danny Mann)
  • Brent Mustangburger, Mustang commentator (Brent Musburger)
Music
  • 'Nothing Can Stop Me Now' by Mark Holman
  • 'You Don't Stop – NYC' by Ali 'Dee' Theodore and Joey Katsaros
  • 'The Girl From Ipanema' by Vinicius de Moraes, Norman Gimbel and Antônio Carlos Jobim
  • 'Fly' by John Fields and Jon Stevens
  • 'Tere Bina' by AR Rahman and Gulzar
Spin Off Of
  • Cars (2006)
  • Cars 2 (2011)
Sequel
  • Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014)
Bechdel TestFail

This story was based on an idea by John Lasseter, the writer-director of the first two Cars films. Set in the same world, the film follows the same basic plot as those films, featuring a race with the hero facing an arrogant opponent. Brent Mustangburger had appeared in Cars 2 as the race commentator, while Skipper and Sparky had appeared in 'Air Mater', an episode of Cars Toons: Maters Tall Tales.

Although the plot is incredibly predictable, there are still plenty of details to pick up on. The characters played by Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards were based on their characters Goose and Ice Man in Top Gun. In the Iceland to Germany section of the race the aircraft fly through Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, which inspired the appearance of the Disney Castle. Also many of the clouds and landscapes in the background appear in the shape of different aircraft.

The film was so successful at the box office that it was the eighth most successful animated film of the year5.

45. Tinker Bell: The Pirate Fairy (2014)

DirectorPeggy Holmes
ReleaseCinematic
PlotZarina, a pixie dust keeper fairy, secretly experiments with the powerful pixie dust that gives all the fairies the ability to fly. When an experiment goes dangerously out of control she is banned from working with pixie dust again, after which she runs away. She returns to Pixie Hollow during the Four Seasons Festival and, after sending almost everyone to sleep, steals blue pixie dust. When Tinker Bell and her friends try to stop her, she mixes their talents to confuse them. She takes the dust to a group of pirates who call her their captain, makes her own Pixie Dust Tree inside Skull Rock and plans to make a pirate ship fly. Yet the pirates are not to be trusted. Can Tinker Bell and her friends save the pixie dust and reunite with Zarina?
Length78 minutes
SettingPixie Hollow and Skull Rock, Never Land
Animation TypeCGI
InspirationPeter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by JM Barrie (play 1904, novel 1911)
Characters
  • Tinker Bell, a tinker fairy turned water fairy (Mae Whitman)
  • Zarina, pixie dust keeper fairy and pirate fairy (Christina Hendricks)
  • James Hook, pirate captain (Tom Hiddleston)
  • Silvermist, a water fairy turned fast-flying fairy (Lucy Liu)
  • Rosetta, a garden fairy turned animal fairy (Megan Hilty
  • Iridessa, a light fairy turned garden fairy (Raven-Symoné)
  • Vidia, fast-flying fairy turned tinker (Pamela Adlon)
  • Fawn, an animal fairy turned light fairy (Angela Bartys)
  • Fairy Mary, chief tinker (Jane Horrocks)
  • Bobble, tinker fairy (Rob Paulsen)
  • Queen Clarion, ruler of Pixie Hollow (Anjelica Huston)
  • Clank, tinker fairy (Jeff Bennett)
  • Fairy Gary, chief pixie dust keeper (Jeff Bennett)
  • Oppenheimer, Bonito, Port, Starboard, Yang – pirates (Jim Cummings, Carlos Ponce, Mick Wingert & Kevin Michael Richardson)
  • Mr Smee (Jeff Bennett)
  • Terence, pixie dust keeper (Jesse McCartney)
Spin Off Of
  • Peter Pan (1953) – 61 years earlier
MusicScore composed by Joel McNeely, songs:
  • 'Who I Am' by Adam Watts and Andy Dodd
  • 'The Frigate That Flies' by Gaby Alter and Itamar Moses
  • 'Weightless' by Natasha Bedingfield, Stephen Kipner, Wayne Wilkins and Andre Merritt
Films in Series
  • 1. Tinker Bell (2008)
  • 2. Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009)
  • 3. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010)
  • 4. Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings (2012)
  • 6. Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (2015)
Bechdel TestPass

This enjoyable film contains numerous links to Peter Pan, including Hook, Smee and the Tick-Tock Croc. This is a bit confusing as the first film in the series, Tinker Bell, featured Wendy only a few years younger than when she was seen in Peter Pan, yet Hook here in this film set later is roughly 20 years younger. Fairy characters that appeared in previous films in the series can be seen attending the Four Seasons Festival. Another reference is to The Wizard of Oz where, like in this film, poppies put people to sleep.

46. Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014)

DirectorRobert Granaway
ReleaseCinema
PlotFollowing a successful racing career, Dusty learns that his gearbox, which is out of production and cannot be replaced, has suffered cumulative damage, and if he flies fast ever again he will crash. After Dusty accidentally causes a fire at Propwash Junction airport when defiantly trying to fly fast, a government inspector condemns and closes the airport for having insufficient firefighting personnel. Dusty, unable to race, volunteers to be trained as a firefighter. He flies to Piston Peak National Park for training. There he learns that, although the team are efficient, they have inadequate resources because of the park's self-obsessed superintendent, Cad Spinner.
Length80 mins
SettingPropwash Junction and Piston Peak National Park in the same world as Cars, with sentient vehicles instead of people.
Animation TypeCGI
InspirationPixar's Cars film series
Aeroplanes
  • Dusty Crophopper, inspired by various crop-dusting aircraft (Dane Cook)
  • Skipper Riley, US Navy Chance Vought F4U Corsair (Stacey Keach)
  • Lil' Dipper, Grumman Goose fire-fighting flying boat (Julie Bowen)
  • Blade Ranger, former television star AgustaWestland helicopter turned fire-and-rescue chief (Ed Harris)
  • Windlifter, Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane firefighting helicopter (Wes Studi)
  • Cabbie, Fairchidl Flying Boxcar firefighter (Dale Dye)
  • Leadbottom, biplane crop-duster inspired by Boeing-Stearman Model 75 (Cedric the Entertainer)
Cars
  • Chug, a fuel tanker and Dusty's best friend (Brad Garrett)
  • Dottie, forklift truck and engineer (Teri Hatcher)
  • Sparky, Skipper's forklift truck (Danny Mann)
  • Maru, forklift mechanic (Curtis Armstrong)
  • Dynamite, Pinecone, Avalanche, Blackout, Drip – the Smokejumpers, parachuting firefighting team (Regina King, Corri English, Bryan Callen, Danny Pardo, Matt Jones)
  • Superintendent Cad Spinner, self-obsessed Cadillac head of National Park (John Michael Higgins)
  • Mayday, Propwash Junction's old fire-engine (Hal Holbrook)
  • Pulaski, Piston Peak's fire-engine (Patrick Warburton)
  • Brent Mustangburger, Mustang commentator (Brent Musburger)
MusicSoundtrack by Mark Mancina, songs:
  • 'Runway Romance' by Roberts Gannaway and Danny Jacob
  • 'Still I Fly' by Windy Wagner, Michael Smidi Smith and Spencer Lee
  • 'All In' by Brad Paisley
Sequel To
  • Planes (2013)
Spin Off:
  • Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular (2014) – short
Bechdel TestPass

Also called Planes 2: Fire and Rescue, this is a better film than the first, having a more original plot that doesn't copy the first two Cars films. That said, the plot of the heroic racer crashing and coming to terms with choosing an alternative career would feature in Cars 3 (2017), which does it much better.

Like the original, this made the top ten most successful animated films of the year, coming eighth6.

47. Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (2015)

DirectorSteve Loter
ReleaseCinema
PlotFawn is an animal fairy whose heart leads her to endanger those around her as she cannot help but care for all creatures, including vicious carnivores that eat fairies. Soon after a green  comet passes over Pixie Hollow, she encounters a giant, unusual creature unlike anything she has ever seen. She removes a thorn from its paw and befriends him, naming him Gruff. After catching a glimpse of Gruff after hearing his fearsome roar, Nyx, a scout fairy determined to keep Pixie Hollow safe, unearths an ancient fragmented picture from the library. It seems to foretell that a legendary NeverBeast, which looks just like Gruff, will bring lightning and destruction. As the circumstances surrounding this prophecy appear to be playing out, should Fawn listen to her heart and protect Gruff?
Length70 minutes
Animation TypeCGI
SettingPixie Hollow, Neverland
InspirationPeter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by JM Barrie (play 1904, novel 1911)
Characters
  • Fawn, an animal fairy (Ginnifer Goodwin)
  • Tinker Bell, a tinker fairy (Mae Whitman)
  • Nyx, a scout fairy (Rosario Dawson)
  • Silvermist, a water fairy (Lucy Liu)
  • Iridessa, a light fairy (Raven-Symoné)
  • Rosetta, a garden fairy (Megan Hilty
  • Vidia, a fast-flying fairy (Pamela Adlon)
  • Fury, a scout fairy (UK: Mel B, US: Danai Gurira)
  • Chase, a scout fairy (Chloe Bennet)
  • Scribble, librarian fairy (Thomas Lennon)
  • Buck, animal fairy (Jeff Corwin)
  • Narrator (Grey Griffin)
  • Queen Clarion, ruler of Pixie Hollow (Anjelica Huston)
MusicComposed by Joel McNeely, Songs:
  • 'Float' by Bleu
  • 'Strange Sight' by Rob Cantor
  • '1000 Years' by KT Tunstall feat. Bleu
Spin Off Of
  • Peter Pan (1953) – 62 years earlier
Films in Series
  • 1. Tinker Bell (2008)
  • 2. Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009)
  • 3. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010)
  • 4. Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings (2012)
  • 5. Tinker Bell: The Pirate Fairy (2014)
Bechdel TestPass

This was not expected to be the final film in the series, or indeed the final DisneyToons Studios film, as another Tinker Bell and Planes film were in development. This is the only film in the series not to concentrate on Tinker Bell, instead focusing on her friend Fawn, who is now played by Ginnifer Goodwin, the third actress to voice her. Many of the regular Tinker characters such as Fairy Mary, Bobble and Clank do not appear either.

The End

Despite many of the films having a short cinematic run, the majority of DisneyToon Studios' income was from the home entertainment market and video (DVD and Blu-Ray) sales. Although new films in both the Tinker Bell and Planes series were planned, Disney announced in June 2018 the immediate closure of DisneyToon Studios, with 75 animators and other staff losing their jobs. The reason given was the decline of home video sales since the rise of online video streaming services. Although Disney Television Animation would continue making occasional feature-length direct-to-video films, it was felt that having an entire animation studio dedicated to this declining area was superfluous, especially as Walt Disney Animation Studios had embraced the concept of making sequels to their films, making Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) and Frozen 2 as big budget official films rather than low-budget, lesser releases.

Also in mid-2018 it was announced that Walt Disney intended to acquire 21st Century Fox, including Blue Sky Studios, the animation studio most famous for the Ice Age series. This deal was finalised in 2019. Disney being set to acquire another prestigious animation studio was another reason for no longer needing DisneyToon Studios.

There was an additional factor in the Studio's closure. John Lasseter had fully supported the continuation of both the Planes and Tinker Bell / Disney Fairies series. In late 2017 he admitted sexual misconduct7, resulting in an initial six month leave-of-absence followed by an announcement that he would step down at the end of 2018. It was no longer considered appropriate to continue to support projects such as Planes and Tinker Bell that he was closely associated with. He was replaced as Chief Creative Officer at Pixar by Pete Docter, who had directed Monsters, Inc (2001), Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015), while Jennifer Lee, writer/director of Frozen (2013), was appointed Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

1Walt Disney Television Animation was renamed Disney Television Animation in 2011.2Disney Animation Australia, Disney Animation France also known as Disney Animation Paris, Disney Animation Japan and Disney Animation Canada.3There are different video standards – NTSC in America, which has 525 scan lines and 30 frames per second (fps) and PAL in most of Europe (except France, which uses SECAM) with 625 scan lines and 25fps. When converted from film NTSC duplicates every fourth frame to compensate for the higher frame rate while PAL does not, meaning that unedited films released in Europe are 4% shorter than the same unedited film in America; a film with a 100-minute runtime in the US is 96 minutes long in Europe.4The extras on the Tinker Bell DVDs state that male fairies are called 'Sparrowmen', but this is never mentioned in the films themselves.5After Disney's Frozen, Illumination's Despicable Me 2, Pixar's Monsters University, DreamWorks Animations' The Croods and Turbo, Sony Pictures Animations' Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Blue Sky Studios' Epic6Following Disney's Big Hero 6, DreamWorks Animation's How To Train Your Dragon 2, Blue Sky's Rio 2, Animal Logic's The Lego Movie, DreamWorks Animations' Penguins of Madagascar and Mr Peabody & Sherman and Shin-Ei Animation's Stand by Me Doraemon.7Lasseter admitted he had on numerous occasions grabbed, kissed and made inappropriate comments regarding female members of staff, often, but not always, following the consumption of alcohol.

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