Long before it began releasing Marvel and Star Wars films, Disney earned its name on animated films, especially the Disney Princess formula, which included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Pocahontas, and others. Despite the fact that Disney’s animated films are usually blockbuster hits with largely good critic reviews, the studio seldom develops theatrical sequels. Instead, the Mouse House has mostly released direct-to-video animated films, a segment of Hollywood that they pioneered in the early 1990s. The problem with these sorts of releases is that they might come and go with few people knowing about them.
1Cinderella II: Dreams Come True
“And they lived happily ever after,” a wonderful way to conclude an animated film, especially one about a servant girl falling in love with a prince. But don’t people want to know what happens next? Perhaps, which is why Disney chose to produce a sequel to Cinderella, which was released in 2002. (more than 50 years after the original film).
Cinderella II takes place not long after the events of the first film, with the mice Gus and Jacques composing their own fairy tale book, which is divided into three sections. Cinderella strives to fulfill conventional royal responsibilities in the first installment by throwing a celebration following her and the prince’s honeymoon. In the second half, Jacques experiences an existential crisis and requests that the Fairy Godmother transform him into a tall human. Cinderella’s stepsister, Anastasia, falls in love with a humble baker in the third installment, against her family’s disapproval.
Despite receiving an awful Rotten Tomatoes rating of 11%, the picture boosted Disney’s year-over-year home video sales in 2002. Cinderella II’s success encouraged the studio to produce a third film, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, which outperformed its predecessor. It was released to great acclaim in 2007, receiving a Rotten Tomatoes score of 71 percent and grossing almost $92 million in home video sales.
2The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea
After a 30-year break, Disney produced The Little Mermaid, a new Disney Princess film, in 1989, with Ariel as the new princess. The picture was a worldwide hit, ushering the company into the so-called Disney Renaissance period (referring to the stream of animated movies released between 1989 and 1999). Take note of how the Disney Renaissance ended in 1999, one year before the sequel to The Little Mermaid. That’s because the needless and underwhelming sequel was panned by both reviewers and audiences.
Whereas Cinderella II’s narrative takes place soon after the first film, The Little Mermaid 2 takes place much later in Ariel and Prince Eric’s marriage. It starts with a celebration of their daughter’s birth, whom Ursula’s sister, Morgana, threatens to kill in order to gain King Triton’s trident. Melody discovers her mermaid ancestry more than a decade later and rebels against her mother. After a fight between Morgana and the story’s protagonists, Melody is able to unify the inhabitants of the land and the sea.
Although the picture was also critically panned, it was a commercial triumph, grossing more than $50 million in home video sales.
3The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
The Lion King wowed reviewers with its “emotionally moving, lavishly designed, and brilliantly animated” tale when it debuted in 1994. It was so popular that it became the highest-grossing animated picture of all time, as well as the second highest-grossing film of all time, behind only Jurassic Park. Obviously, things have changed since then, but The Lion King remains a beloved contribution to the Disney canon. Its sequel, however, does not.
The Lion King sequel, which follows Simba and Nala’s daughter as she seeks to unify warring families, was lambasted by reviewers. Most direct-to-video Disney sequels feature a totally new cast, owing to the films’ release years (if not decades) after their predecessors, however The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride reintroduced the bulk of the original voice cast. There were a few exceptions: Edward Hibbert replaced Rowan Atkinson as Zaru’s voice, and Jim Cummings replaced Jeremy Irons as Scar’s voice.
Following that, Disney released The Lion King 1 1/2, which took place between the original film and Simba’s Pride. It also had the majority of the original cast. In contrast to Simba’s Pride, The Lion King 1 1/2 centered on Timon and Pumba rather than Simba. Even after all these years, The Lion King appears to be a healthy brand for Disney. An animated spinoff TV series is also now running on Disney Junior.
4Return to Never Land
Almost 50 years after the first Peter Pan picture was shown in cinemas, Disney produced Return to Never Land, a theatrical sequel starring Blayne Weaver as Peter Pan and Corey Burton as Captain Hook. And, like the previous picture, the sequel is inspired in part by J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. It is set after the events in When Wendy Grew Up: An Afterthought, a scene added by J.M. Barrie to his Peter Pan play. It’s also the last chapter of Peter and Wendy’s book.
Despite following the events of the novel’s last chapter, the film is set after Disney’s Peter Pan feature. So there are some noticeable variations, particularly in the portrayal of Wendy’s daughter, Jane. In the novel, Wendy’s brothers return to London and live regular lives, while in the film, they remain in Neverland with Peter.
Return to Never Land received largely mixed reviews, getting a 46 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite this, it was a box office triumph, making almost $110 million worldwide on a production budget of $20 million. Disney chose not to make a sequel (though Tinker Bell now has her own film franchise), but the narrative did inspire the Jake and the Never Land Pirates offshoot TV series on Disney Junior.
5An Extremely Goofy Movie
An Extremely Goofy Movie is a one-of-a-kind addition since it is a sequel to a movie (A Goofy Movie) that was, in turn, a sequel to a TV series (Goof Troop). Two of the TV series’ primary cast members, Bill Farmer and Jim Cummings, who portrayed Goofy and Pete, respectively, returned for the film and its sequel. In the movies, however, Jason Marsden took over for Dana Hill as Max’s voice.
The sequel follows Goofy and Max as they each attend college to obtain their bachelor’s degrees. Attending the same institution as your goofy father isn’t the best choice in the world, since it sets the stage for all sorts of strife and goofiness (ahem). Because the film is officially a spinoff of the TV series and continues the tale of Goofy and Max years later, it essentially serves as the series finale for Goof Troop. Surprisingly, the sequel is a rare example of a straight sequel.
6The Jungle Book 2
The Jungle Book 2 is an unusual Disney sequel to be released in theaters, however, most reviewers feel Disney would have been better off just releasing it on DVD. The Jungle Book 2, directed by Steve Trenbirth and produced by Disney Toon Studios, was released in 2003. (36 years after the first Jungle Book movie). It starred John-Rhys Davies, Phil Collins, and John Goodman, as well as Haley Joel Osment and Mae Whitman, two young up-and-comers.
Despite being a worldwide box office triumph, generating $135 million on an estimated $20 million production budget, the picture failed to connect with viewers in the same way that the original did.
7The Return of Jafar
When it was released in 1992, Aladdin was an instant smash with critics and fans alike, achieving a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94 percent and grossing over $500 million worldwide. It was also a first for Disney since it featured the first ethnic Disney Princess. It’s only natural, then, that its sequel, The Return of Jafar, was the first direct-to-video animated sequel when it was released in 1994. It not only started a pattern for Disney of direct-to-video sequels but also a tendency of bad ones.
The Return of Jafar garnered largely poor reviews from reviewers, owing primarily to a lack of inventiveness — yet this did not dampen the film’s economic success. From the start, it was apparent that Disney had identified a new cash source for their animated products that didn’t require a big-budget theatrical release. Regardless of critical or public reaction, the film’s popularity spurred Disney to continue the pattern and create another Aladdin picture, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, in 1996. (inspired by the Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves tale from One Thousand and One Nights). It was, predictably, reviled by critics.
8Kronk’s New Groove
This direct-to-video sequel/spinoff to The Emperor’s New Groove was released by Disney in 2005, five years after the first film. The sequel follows Yzma’s former henchman, Kronk, following the events of The Emperor’s New Groove. That’s not to say the Emperor isn’t present in the film; in fact, he narrates the story of Kronk’s quest for his father’s favor as well as Miss Birdwell’s love.
Despite the great voice ensemble returning for the sequel — David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, and others – reviewers panned the picture for its lack of creativity and, well, rhythm. On Rotten Tomatoes, it presently has a 41 percent audience rating. Whereas the first film garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, Kronk’s New Groove, according to critics, failed to generate even one acceptable song.
9Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas
This direct-to-video sequel, released five years after Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, followed the tradition of riffing on the first film’s title rather than simply numbering the sequel. Despite the lack of a Rotten Tomatoes critics rating, the film received a 64 percent approval rating from moviegoers. So it looks that some individuals enjoyed it.
Unlike almost every other film on this list, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas is a direct-to-video sequel to a direct-to-video film. The idea of the sequel is similar to that of the original, although it changes in a few areas. For example, although the original film had three portions, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas contains five. In addition, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas is considered as the final film to showcase famous TV actor Alan Young, who died in 2016 and will be remembered for his voice work as Scrooge McDuck.
10Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
Beauty and the Beast is one of the most adored Disney films of all time, with reviewers such as Roger Ebert praising it as a beautiful story on par with Pinnochio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Given that the original film being the first animated picture to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it’s disappointing to learn that its sequel was completely lambasted by reviewers.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, while technically a sequel, takes place inside the events of the original Beauty and the Beast film (not long after the Beast rescues Belle from the wolves). Because Prince Adam became the Beast around Christmastime, he prohibited Christmas from being celebrated in his palace. The plot revolves around Belle, Cogsworth, Chip, Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts as they try to persuade the Beast to let them have a Christmas party. Furthermore, the video goes into further depth about how Prince Adam became the Beast.
One year after The Enchanted Christmas, Disney released another sequel, Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World. It took occurred throughout the events of the first film as well. That narrative took place immediately after the events of The Enchanted Christmas, but before the Beast’s meeting with Gaston in the original film. Belle’s Magical World, like the last chapter, garnered negative reviews. Unlike other Disney animated sequels, however, these two were created to provide explication and context to the original narrative.
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Sid Philips is a father of two and a loving husband. He currently resides in Pennsylvania and has been a fan of Disney since his parents took him there in 1980! Sid has visited multiple Disney parks around the world and loves each one!
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