We've covered Disney movies that never managed to battle their way out of development hell. What I purposely left out were sequels, because some of these ideas are in a category all of their own. Any parent who has endured Cinderella III: A Twist in Time knows exactly what I mean. Here are eight sequels that you'll thankfully (with one exception) never have to sit through.
1. Dumbo II
As it so happens, Dumbo is John Lasseter’s favorite movie of all time. This, perhaps, is the reason that he put the kibosh on its proposed sequel when he was named Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006. The sequel was so far along that a “behind the scenes” trailer was actually released (not embeddable—sorry!). The premise: Dumbo and his circus buddies have to figure their way out of the big city after the circus train accidentally leaves them there.
2. Pinocchio II
We can thank Lasseter for this cancellation as well. Screenwriter Robert Reece was responsible for the plot to this sequel, but all he has divulged about the ill-fated project was that it was “a story that leads Pinocchio to question why life appears unfair sometimes.”
3. The Aristocats II
Another Reece-written project, The Aristocats II would have been about the kittens’ adventures on a cruise ship with a jewel thief. The storyboard artist on the film described it as “Murder on the Orient Express without the murder.” Or the Orient Express, I suppose.
4. Hercules II
Was Hercules a big enough hit to have a sequel? I’d tell you “no,” but hey, I’m no Disney exec. The proposed part two would have had Hercules and Megara living in Athens with their daughter, Hebe. When Hercules’ old friend Helen is kidnapped by Paris of Troy, Herc rallies the Greek army to save her. Though this sequel was scrapped, a direct-to-video midquel called Zero to Hero came out in 1998.
5. Who Discovered Roger Rabbit/Roger Rabbit Two: The Toon Platoon
This is the one item on the list that I’d be intrigued to see hit the silver screen. This prequel was originally based around Roger’s search for his parents and Jessica being kidnapped to serve as a Tokyo Rose-type character during WWII. Rewrites in the late ‘90s changed the plot to be about Roger’s rise to stardom. By this point, however, Steven Spielberg excused himself from the project. This, combined with the skyrocketing budget (and a couple of other factors), prompted Disney to put the poor bunny back on the shelf. But, as any Roger Rabbit fan knows, don’t count him out just yet. As recently as October 2012, Robert Zemeckis said that a script has been finished and they were just waiting “for all of the executive changes to settle down there.”
6. Bambi’s Children
Ever wonder what happened to Bambi after he grew up? He and Faline became the parents to twins Geno and Gurri, of course. Disney would have loved to tell you all about it back in 1944, when they were considering making a movie out of the book sequel.
Just because this particular followup got nixed doesn’t mean Disney didn’t plow ahead with another questionable Bambi sequel anyway: Bambi II, a “midquel,” was released in 2006 and occurs right in the middle of the events of the original Bambi. Basically, the young deer and his bevy of forest friends learn how to be brave and his dad acts like a jerk.
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas prequel/sequel
The scuttlebutt a few years ago—so the facts here are a little squishy—is that a second NBC film was in the works. “There are a lot of other great holidays for Jack Skellington to take over,” director Henry Selick said. But Tim Burton seems to have stopped that one in its tracks.
"I was always very protective of it, not to do sequels or things of that kind. You know, 'Jack visits Thanksgiving World' or other kinds of things, just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it,” Burton said. “I try to respect people and keep the purity of the project as much as possible."
8. Treasure Planet II
Like Hercules, I was under the impression that Treasure Planet wasn’t really a big hit. In fact, I believe it was a colossal financial failure. So it’s really no surprise that plans for the sequel were downgraded to “development hell” status indefinitely.