With the much-anticipated “Finding Nemo” sequel, “Finding Dory,” coming to theaters Friday, the world is currently waiting with that all-too-familiar bated breath associated with Disney and Pixar sequels. And with good reason.
Since Disney released its first full-length animated motion picture, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” in 1937, the company has released 39 film sequels, follow-ups or spinoffs to their original films, the first being “The Return of Jafar” in 1994.
Pixar, the animation film company that Disney bought in 2006, has also become a sequel machine. The company has four sequels already out, “Finding Dory” slated for release Friday and three more sequels in the works.
But what is the actual worth of these sequels, and is it detracting from the magic that is supposed to be Disney?
Growing up as a 1990’s kid, I like to think I was there for the prime Disney/Pixar movie releases: “The Lion King,” “Tarzan,” “Finding Nemo,” etc.
But I also was born right around the time Disney started churning out these sequels and spinoffs, and more often than not I found myself disenchanted with the recycled plot lines and watered down characters.
The excitement I felt the first time I was introduced to Timon and Pumba and learned the “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle faded when I sat through “The Lion King 1 1/2.” The same thing happened when I watched “Tarzan II,” “Bambi II,” “Tinker Bell,” you name it.
I felt like there was always going to be disappointment associated with Disney sequels and stopped watching them all together.
Then came “Toy Story 2,” the first Pixar sequel. I loved it.
Not only were the spirits of Woody and Buzz upheld in the second film, but the addition of characters like Jessie and Bullseye added to the delight and entertainment value I received from watching the film. I was convinced not all sequels were disappointments.
But can we as a population rely on hitting the target 20 percent of the time? Can the children of our current generation be satisfied with these follow-ups that leave them thinking that originality and creativity fade and can more often than not be reproduced?
I’m not well-researched on the monetary gains/losses Disney has experienced concerning its sequels. I’m sure the reoccurrence of the spinoffs can tell us Disney thinks they are worthwhile, no matter how much they might tank in the box office and tarnish our magical experiences.
The Disney brand is supposed to be about creating new worlds and experiences and making magic come alive for people of all ages. By diluting that magic with reproductions of films that were perfectly fine ending where they ended, this is souring the brand for many.
For example, let’s look at the “Toy Story” film series. As I said before, I felt “Toy Story 2” was a great sequel. And when “Toy Story 3” came out, it was a home run.
I watched it as a high schooler who, like Andy, would be leaving for college in a short amount of time and would have to let go of parts of my childhood in doing so.
The magic was there, the emotions were there, and I left the theater grateful for the nice bow Pixar had just wrapped around the “Toy Story” franchise.
And now, they have announced there will be a “Toy Story 4.”
I’m not excited.
I’m sure they will find a way to create something decent out of this, but there was such a pleasant, definitive ending to the story of Andy, Woody and Buzz I feel now like money truly is the motive and that it’s not about the fans anymore. How could it be?
Disney is a brand I want to share with my children as they grow up. I want to see them believe in things like flying with Peter Pan or becoming friends with the monsters in their closet like Sully and Mike.
I want to instill in them the values of friendship, kindness and faith these films brought to me and have brought to other children all over the world.
So I’m hoping “Finding Dory” is as amazing as it looks to be from the trailers. And I hope in the future, sequels are more like “Toy Story 2” and less like “Mulan II.”
I don’t want to see Disney become the product of a society that doesn’t know how to get closure and doesn’t know how to let things lie. Our children deserve better than that, as do we.
But I’m a Disney kid at heart, so not only do I hope for these things, but I believe.
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