The Ultimate DisneyToon Studios Animated Film Guide: 2010-2015

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The Ultimate Disney MovieToons & DisneyToon Studios Animated Film Guide

1990-1999 | 2000-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2015

DisneyToon Studios was the second animation studio that was part of 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 releases or went direct-to-video. 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 Animation for the big screen as well as making feature-length television and direct-to-video productions. These involved teams of animators making films in many Disney-owned studios based all around the world1.

It soon began churning out sequels to many of Walt Disney Animation Studios' most successful films. While animated films are by their nature a commercial art form, the studio, renamed DisneyToon Studios in 2003 and 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 Walt Disney Television Animation's half-finished abandoned projects.

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

Despite the films having a short cinematic run, the majority of DisneyToon Studios' income remained from the home entertainment market and video2 sales, a market area which was in decline since the rise of video streaming services.

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 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 British 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 9-year-old girl called Lizzy, who tries to persuade her distracted father who has no time for her that fairies exist.
Length77 minutes
SettingThe mainland of the south coast of England, 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)
BechdelPass

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, however London looks quite small with Big Ben near the countryside. Dr Griffiths, despite being an English character, uses Americanisms such as 'trunk' when he means 'boot'.

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

DirectorPeggy Holmes
ReleaseBrief cinematic run
PlotThe fairies are preparing for winter but the Winter Woods are strictly off limits. Tinker Bell, rebellious, crosses the border into Winter, where it is always cold, and finds herself drawn there 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, as 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 very 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)
BechdelPass

Another highly enjoyable entry in the fairies series, concentrating on the value of friendship, separation 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 and enters the Wings Across the Globe race. Supported by his friends, fuel tanker Chug and forklift Dottie, and mentored by former US Navy aircraft Skipper, Dusty just qualifies for the 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)
MusicComposed by
  • '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 Antonio 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)
BechdelFail

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 the first two Cars films, involving a race with the hero facing an arrogant opponent. One character, Brent Mustangburger, had appeared in Cars 2 as the race commentator, while two characters, Skipper and Sparky, had appeared in 'Air Mater', an episode of Cars Toons: Maters Tall Tales.

Yet though the plot is incredibly predictable, there are still plenty of details to pick up on. Two minor characters were played by Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards 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 landscapes in the background and clouds also 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, which is what gives all the fairies the ability to fly. When an experiment goes wrong and dangerously out of control she is banned from working with pixie dust again, after which she runs away. She later returns to Pixie Hollow during the Four Seasons Festival and after sending almost everyone to sleep, steals the blue pixie dust. When Tinker Bell and her friends try to stop her she mixes their talents to confuse them. She takes it to a group of pirates who call her their captain and has made 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)
BechdelPass

This enjoyable film contains numerous references 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, shows a young 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 has suffered cumulative damage and if he flies fast ever again he will crash. His gearbox is out of production and cannot be replaced. After accidentally causing 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, flying to Piston Peak National Park for his training. There he learns that though 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 Composed by
  • '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
BechdelPass

Also called Planes 2: Fire and Rescue, this sequel 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 nevertheless 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, 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 quickly 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 of a legendary NeverBeast that looks just like Gruff that will bring lightning and destruction to all. 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 by Bleu unless stated:
  • 'Float
  • 'Strange Sight' by Rob Cantor
  • '1000 Years'
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)
BechdelPass

This was not expected to be the final film in the series, or indeed the final DisneyToons Studios film, with both another Tinker Bell and Planes film in development but abandoned. 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

Although Disneytoon Studios had planned to continue to develop new films in both the Tinker Bell and Planes series, Disney announced in June 2018 the immediate closure of DisneyToon Studios, with 75 animators and other staff losing their job. The reason given was the decline of home video sales, which Disneytoon Studios was heavily reliant on. Although Disney Television Animation7 is likely to continue making 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 have recently embraced the concept of making sequels to their films.

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 is expected to be finalised in early 2019. Why would Disney need to maintain a low-budget animation studio such as DinseyToon Studios when they were set to acquire a prestigious and far more successful low-budget animation studio in the form of Blue Sky?

Another factor was that John Lasseter had fully supported the continuation of both the Planes and Tinker Bell / Disney Fairies series. In late 2017 he admitted sexual misconduct8, resulting in an initial six month leave-of-absence followed by an announcement he would step down at the end of 2018. 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.

1Disney Animation Australia, Disney Animation France also known as Disney Animation Paris, Disney Animation Japan and Disney Animation Canada.2Ie DVD and Blu-Ray3Please note that the US and Europe use different video standards – NTSC in America and PAL in much of Europe (except France). PAL has more scan lines but fewer frames per second than NTSC (30 frames per second vs 25 frames per second). This means that uncensored films released in Europe are 4% shorter than the same uncensored film in America, in other words 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', however 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.7As Walt Disney Television Animation was renamed in 2011.8Lasseter admitted he had grabbed, kissed and made inappropriate comments regarding female members of staff, often, but not always, following the consumption of alcohol on numerous occasions.

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