*** This is a user-submitted post by Brad Williamson. ***
When Disney’s 1933 Silly Symphony short The Three Little Pigs turned out to be a massive success, fans (and theater owners) were clamoring for a sequel. Walt Disney was strongly encouraged to make more stories about the zany adventures of the three little pigs.
Not only was Walt persuaded to make a follow up to The Three Little Pigs, but he eventually made three: The Big Bad Wolf, Three Little Wolves, and The Practical Pig. (He also added some scenes to the original for 1941’s World War II propaganda film The Thrifty Pig.) None of the cartoons had as much success as the first.
Upon seeing the less-than-stellar performance of the sequels, Walt famously quipped, “You can’t top pigs with pigs.”
Walt was a man who was all about pushing creativity to new levels. Finding new stories and new ways to tell old stories. The whole concept of the Silly Symphony cartoons came about as a way to try new ideas, new techniques, and new ways of telling stories. Making a sequel to Pigs was not the direction he wanted his company to go. He had already done pigs.
Which leads us to the question: “Should Disney be making sequels to its animated movies?” With Frozen 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2 on the horizon, it seems that Disney is not shying away from the cash grab that comes with a theatrical sequel.
Let’s take a quick look at the its track record.
Toy Story 2 and 3 were both terrific sequels. Many would say that Monsters University was a worthy installation. (Yeah, I know it’s a prequel, but we’ll go with it.) Cars 2 was pretty rough, but Cars 3 is trying to redeem the franchise. So, all-in-all, not too bad… but wait! Those are all Pixar. How about Disney proper?
In the official Disney canon, there are only four movies which are considered to be sequels: The Three Caballeros, The Rescuers Down Under, Fantasia 2000, and Winnie the Pooh. All of these were charming, but utterly forgettable films. And of course, all of the straight-to-video sequels, prequels, and midquels have been atrocious.
And why stop there? Return to Neverland, Planes, and Planes: Fire and Rescue all got theatrical releases, but were not considered worthy to be put into the official canon. Just to make this a little more difficult to follow, Planes and Planes: Fire and Rescue are a series of Disney movies which are spin-offs from a series of Pixar movies!
Often times, a lackluster sequel hurts the integrity of the original.
Disney animation is currently helmed by Edwin Catmull and John Lasseter, two of the original Pixar founders. Does that mean that the Disney sequels are headed for the same success as the Pixar sequels? Or will they merely end up as an interesting side-note that we read on Disney Wiki while we bide our time waiting for the next original project?
Personally, I would always prefer a new idea to something we’ve already seen. Taking a chance on a new idea is how we get gems like Inside Out and Moana. Creative ideas that inspire young people to be the next generation of animators and storytellers. Finding Dory is not going to spark the imagination that Zootopia does because we already saw it a few years ago when it was called Finding Nemo.
Sequels are fun. They make us laugh and cry and remember the good times we had the last time we were with the characters. I will continue to see them as long Disney keeps pumping them out. I’ll see their live-action remakes too. But…
Should Disney be making sequels to their animated movies? I say no. They will never be as recognized or as inspired as an original. They will entertain and they will definitely make money, but they will always be wanting. The effort to force in old characters and tie up loose threads hinder sequel plots and reused jokes feel stale. That is energy that would be better spent bringing us new characters and new stories because as Walt said, “You can’t top pigs with pigs.”
What do you think? Should Disney stop making movie sequels?
Edited by: MJ Edwards