Disney says good-bye to Direct-to-Video sequels

The empire Disney has built upon animated movies owes no small part of its success to the ubiquitous straight-to-video sequel. When something works, milk it for all it’s worth, right? That’s traditionally meant popular movies are reprised later on and sent out on DVD, much to the delight of little ones who fell in love with the characters on the big screen.

And this wasn’t limited to just one follow-up, either. If things went well, there could be numerous sequels to a popular film. Consumers have come to expect as much.

But Disney says that all that is going to change.

Check out this article in Animation World Magazine, which details DisneyToon Studios boss Sharon Morrill’s plans for the future.

“I knew from early on when I first started that we weren’t going to be doing 4s and 5s,” says Morill. “I think we had a great run, but we have to be fresh and innovative, otherwise we would’ve gotten stale.”

Director Jim Kammerud is a bit more willing to get to the point:

“The real issue is competition for kids’ time. There’s GameBoys, GameCubes, Wiis; there’s cable with a million channels, the Internet and YouTube, everything’s on there for free. I think all of this happening is what changed their business plan.”

The entire article is worth a read if you’re at all interested in how a market behemoth makes a shift like this. Personally, I find it fascinating to get a glimpse at how these decisions are made.

As for what’s coming instead of more DTV sequels?

“We want to do more franchise-driven movies,” says Morrill. “We’ve been moving in this direction for the last two years. We’re trying to find an arena where we can tell many, many stories — not sequels. We want to find a world and then explore many stories within that world.”

The first world up for exploration is a newly discovered valley in the heart of Peter Pan’s Never Land – a place called Pixie Hollow. The hollow is home to the “Disney Fairies,” a major new initiative from the company. A series of DTV releases — the first starring Tinker Bell and due out later this year — will drive a product line of books, toys, clothing and collectibles. “Tink” will find her voice and a passel of fairy friends, each of whom will be spotlighted in subsequent videos.

And this is totally different from a sequel in that… ummmm… wait, don’t tell me…. Okay, I’ve got nuthin’. But I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

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