DisneyToon Studios was an American animation studio owned by The Walt Disney Company and founded on April 1, 1990, responsible for producing direct-to-video and occasional theatrical films for Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group. It was shut down on June 28, 2018.
New direction of the company
On June 22, 2007, management of DisneyToon Studios was turned over to the control of Ed Catmull and John Lasseter under the banner of the recently reorganized and renamed Feature Animation studio, now Walt Disney Animation Studios. As chief creative officer, Lasseter called for the cancellation of all future films in production or development at DisneyToon that weren't connected to a Disney Consumer Products line. As a result, planned or in-progress sequels to Dumbo, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, and The Aristocats were all cancelled. A few days later, it was announced that DisneyToon would no longer produce future sequels to Disney animated films, but will instead focus on spin-offs and original films. Following conflicts over the new direction for the division, as well as complications relating to the production of a debut Tinker Bell DTV film, the previous president of DisneyToon, Sharon Morill, moved to a new position in the company.
In mid-February 2011 it was officially announced that the studio was producing a Cars spin-off, Planes. The film was first announced to be released in direct-to-video on DVD and Blu-ray in the Spring of 2013. Disney subsequently pushed it back to Fall 2013, while it was confirmed it would have a theatrical release in Europe. It was finally set to be released theatrically on August 9, 2013. A sequel titled Planes 2: Fire and Rescue was released on July 18, 2014.
To create a transition between Cars and Planes, Disney launched a product collection called "Cars Take Flight", which focuses on all material from the Cars franchise related to flying machines. The line featured die-cast, race tracks, games and books. A "Cars Take Flight" event was held on September 14th, 2012 at the Chicagoland Speedway.
John Lasseter also considered making a third Planes film about the future of aviation in outer space, as well as more spin-offs featuring boats and trains, which would have gone into production if Planes was well received. "I kept thinking about—I’m a big train fanatic. I love trains. And I started thinking about trains, and boats and airplanes. And I kept wanting to have more and more of those type of characters," he said. "[...] It’s one of the ideas, that there will be an ongoing series. It almost starts getting into this thing where we fall in love with these plane characters, we want to see more and more stories with them. And then you start doing other vehicles and stuff like that. Yeah. So it kind of is a bigger idea that can keep expanding." Unfortunately, these plans were scrapped when DisneyToon Studios was shut down in 2018.
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