Why These Disney Movie Sequels Never Happened

If you're a fan of Disney movies, you've probably already seen all of the classics. Since launching in 1923, the Walt Disney Company has released dozens of hugely successful animated and live-action films. Its very first full length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is still the highest grossing animated film, having raked in over a billion dollars. The company's other huge successes include classics like 101 Dalmatians, The Lion King, Fantasia, Sleeping Beauty, and so on — in fact, the studio has released so many iconic flicks, it would be just about impossible to name them all!

It comes as no surprise that a company like Disney has churned out a few sequels in their time. Some fan favorites include the lovely Return to Never Land, the magical The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, and, of course, the Romeo and Juliet-inspired The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. While there are many Disney sequels out there, it turns out, a few planned sequels never quite made it all the way to the big screen. Here are some Disney movie sequels that never got made, and why they were canceled.

Hercules II: The Trojan War was canceled before it was even written

We all remember the original Hercules movie from 1997. With memorable characters like Hercules himself, the indomitable Meg, and, of course, the gospel-singing chorus of "the Muses," this film is definitely one of Disney's best animated musicals. Plus, you may have also seen the sequel, Hercules II: Zero to Hero, which was released direct to video in 1999.

What you may not have realized is that there was actually a different Hercules sequel planned, Hercules II: The Trojan War. According to Screen Rant, the project was actually canceled before the proposal for the movie was even finished. Apparently, the film was to premiere after the animated series, which ran from 1998 to 1999. The plot of the Disney movie sequel, which was set after the events of the first movie, featured Meg and Hercules living together with a daughter and would see Hercules going on a journey to save a kidnapped friend.

Even though we never got to see this particular Hercules sequel, it sounds like we might be getting to return to the mythological Greek universe after all. As The Hollywood Reporter revealed in 2020, there are plans in the works for a live-action sequel some time in the future!

The Lizzie McGuire Movie II never happened because Hilary Duff wanted to try new things

For girls growing up in the early 2000s, Lizzie McGuire on the Disney Channel was pretty much a staple of after-school TV. When the film about Lizzie's adventures on a school trip in Rome, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, came out in 2003, fans were thrilled — just about everyone knew all the words to "What Dreams Are Made Of" back in the day! What fans may not have realized is that we almost got a second Lizzie McGuire movie!

According to a Los Angeles Times article, Disney had been hoping to expand the Lizzie McGuire empire with a second film along with a high school sitcom for ABC. However, for Hilary Duff, the star of the franchise, sticking with Lizzie McGuire was apparently not so appealing at the time. Instead, she was reportedly more keen to take on new roles with bigger paychecks than Disney was offering. The actress' attorney explained, "While the Lizzie McGuire franchise may be over for Disney, Hilary Duff's career is flourishing." 

Disney was clearly disappointed. Production chief Nina Jacobson said, "Every deal has its tipping point, the point at which it no longer makes sense. Unfortunately, that's the point we reached in the Lizzie negotiations, and we ultimately had to say goodbye."

In 2019, it was announced that there would be a Lizzie McGuire series that would follow Lizzie in her 30s, but sadly that project was "scrapped," as Deadline reported.

Treasure Planet II never made it to our screens after a lack of interest

In 2002's Treasure Planet, audiences followed the galactic journeys of a troop of treasure hunters. The film was literally out of this world — and Disney was apparently keen on making a sequel. However, according to Animated Views, the Disney movie sequel ground to a halt when it became clear that audiences weren't especially thrilled by the first film.

Apparently, Jun Falkenstein had already been brought on as the director for the sequel before the first film was even released and had been working on the story for over eight months. The plot followed Jim Hawkins at the Royal Interstellar Academy and included pirates, romance, and adventure. At the time, some initial visual artwork had been made for the film, and Disney was even in conversations with rock bands like Eels and Abandoned Pools for the soundtrack.

But when the first Treasure Planet film was released, it underperformed, bringing in just $17 million. The sequel was canceled. As Falkstein confessed, "This was a huge bummer, because we thought the project was rocketing along really smoothly. All the crew were really enthusiastic about the film."

Versions of Fantasia II were canceled several times and a third film was scrapped

The first Fantasia film, released in 1940, was a bold and abstract animated film that featured a plotless series of animated characters along with various pieces of famous classical music. As Neal Gabler revealed in his biography Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination (via Collider), Walt Disney was keen on creating another Fantasia movie. One plan that formed was to re-release the film with new sequences every year. As Gabler put it, this idea "had the advantages of being easier to do and of providing ongoing work for the animators when they needed it." But soon, Disney's plans for the sequels were quashed due to financial drawbacks. 

In the 1980s, the studio once again began plans for a sequel called Musicana. However, when a new team of executives joined the studio, the plans for the Disney movie sequel were once again put on hold.

Eventually, Walt Disney's nephew Roy O. Disney began working on the sequel idea. Eventually, he managed to get it off the ground with Fantasia 2000. After this film, he apparently started work on yet another film called Fantasia 2006, but this too was canceled due to cutbacks.

Aristocats II was shelved when Disney canceled all made-for-video sequels

The Aristocats was first released in 1970 and quickly became a classic. It makes sense that Disney wanted to capitalize on the film's success with a sequel. However, the second film ended up being canceled just one year before its planned release in 2008.

According to Slashfilm, Sharon Morrill, who was president of DisneyToon Studios, was "forced to step down." Apparently, exec John Lasseter wasn't keen on the direction the company was taking with its many planned straight-to-video sequels, which he reportedly didn't think added to the original movies' success. Unfortunately, the planned Aristocats sequel was scrapped, along with several other made-for-video projects (via Animated Views).

We do, however, have a few examples of what the project might have looked like. In fact, the storyboard for a dramatic chase scene is available to watch online. By the looks of things, the Disney movie sequel featured a jewel thief who gets captured thanks to our favorite team of cats.

Pinocchio II was a direct-to-video Disney movie sequel that never saw the light of day

The original Pinocchio film is definitely one of the all-time Disney classics, so it's odd that a sequel was never made. It turns out, the studio did have some initial plans in place for a sequel, but they never came to fruition. Apparently, the sequel was planned for a straight-to-video release in the early 2000s, but when Disney exec John Lasseter canceled all upcoming video releases, plans for this film were scrapped, too.

According to Animated Views, the film was written by Robert Reece, who said, "Pinocchio II was a joy to work on, because the world created by [author Carlo] Collodi as envisioned by the geniuses who made the original film was just so fantastic." Reece didn't give away many details about the plot, but he did reveal that it would have picked up where the first film left off with Pinocchio as a real boy. "It's a story that leads Pinocchio to question why life appears unfair sometimes," he said.

Disney movie sequel Chicken Little 2 was canceled due to financial concerns

Chicken Little was Disney's first CGI feature — and it quickly became a hit (via Collider). Soon enough, plans began for a sequel called Chicken Little 2. As Tod Carter, who was involved in the project, told Animated Views, "Overall, the script for Chicken Little 2 was pretty good and I felt great about the sequences in which I was involved."

Apparently, the plot featured a love triangle between Chicken Little, his "childhood sweetheart" Abby, and the beautiful Raffaela, a new character. At one point in the movie, Abby decided to give herself a makeover to compete for Chicken Little's affections. As Carter revealed, the project was ticking along nicely when, all of a sudden, "Disney pulled the plug on the project." According to Carter, the decision to cancel the film was based on financial considerations. "The executives didn't feel that the original film had a wide enough market to draw upon to support the sequel," Carter explained.

Dumbo II had a full story and cast of characters when it was canceled

The first Dumbo film was a huge success. Everyone seemed to love the touching story of the big-eared circus elephant who learned to fly. Apparently, a second Dumbo film called Dumbo II was in the works in the early 2000s. In fact, a sneak peak was even released in 2001. As producers explained in the sneak peak, the first film was known for making people cry. "The challenge will be, in, making a sequel that does the same," producer Jeannine Roussel said.

The producers went on to explain that the sequel was to be set straight after the events of the first film. The plot featured all of the young animals from the circus getting lost and winding up in the "big city." As Burny Mattinson, Head of Story at the time, said, "The storyline, and everything, where we're going, it will be all new, but I think it will have the same flavor and feeling of the old version."

Sadly, the film Disney movie sequel was repeatedly delayed until exec John Lasster's decision to scrap all upcoming straight-to-video features, according to Animated Views, meaning that Dumbo II was permanently canceled.

Bambi's Children, based on the book, was canceled in the '40s

The original Bambi film was based on the German novel about a young deer growing up in the woods. The author of the original book wrote a sequel called Bambi's Children. Apparently, the film would have had a similar plot to the book. According to GoodReads, the book followed the adventures of Bambi and Faline's children, twins called Geno and Gurri.

According to Screen Rant, this tale was initially meant to be turned into an animated sequel. However, when Bambi underperformed at the box office, presumably due to being released during the World War II, the plans were reportedly scrapped. While Disney never made a film about the grown-up Bambi, the studio did release their own Dell Comics book version of this sequel. 

However, there was another Bambi film. Disney released a "midquel" called Bambi II, which was released straight-to-video in 2006 and followed "the story of Bambi growing up in the care of his father, The Great Prince of the Forest," according to IMDb.

Disney movie sequel Aladdin IV was canceled when Robin William died

Aladdin was a hugely popular animated feature that led to several sequels, including The Return of Jafar in 1994 and Aladdin and the King of Thieves in 1996. Apparently, in the 2010s, there was a fourth movie in the works set after King of Thieves that was never made (via Screen Rant).

According to The Times, production stalled when Robin Williams, who voiced Genie, passed away. Apparently, Disney had planned on using old recordings from the first Aladdin movie. However, Williams stipulated in his will that any unused material couldn't be used for 25 years after his death, so Disney canceled the project. As one executive explained, there were a lot of unused jokes waiting to be used. "When he was on form, the hyperactive motormouth we love from Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, Dead Poets Society and Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin was making 30 jokes a minute," he said. "Now, because he insisted on a final say on such material, [the jokes] will remain in the vaults."

Plans for Mulan III seemed to fizzle out

The original 1998 Mulan has gone down in history as one of Disney's greatest animated films, with its amazing soundtrack and its message of female empowerment. It came as no surprise that Disney made a sequel. According to Variety, the studio had actually planned on churning out a third Mulan film as early as 2002. According to an interview with screenwriters Raymond Singer and Eugenia Bostwick-Singer, the Disney movie sequel was potentially going to feature a character called Ana Ming, named after their own real-life daughter. However, even then, the writers knew that doing Mulan III would be tough. "Sequels are easy but second sequels are hard," Singer said, explaining that it was possible to keep a story going for a little too long.

Unfortunately, we never got to see a third animated Mulan movie. At least we the live-action film starring Liu Yifei in 2020!

The Nightmare Before Christmas sequel never made it off the ground

The Nightmare Before Christmas was a huge hit. Apparently, Disney was working on a sequel at one time, but, for a variety of reasons, it never came to be. The first film's director Henry Selick was apparently approached by Disney about the project. At Cinecon, he once said, "Disney spoke to me and the sad thing was at the time, they said, 'If we do a sequel, it will have to be CG.'" As Selick explained, he was "disappointed" by this, as he thought a sequel should follow in the first film's footsteps and use stop-motion. Selick also revealed that a few storylines had been pitched, but he wasn't sure that the producer Tim Burton would be interested in any of them (via Slashfilm).

It seems that Selick was right. According to an MTV interview, Burton wasn't eager to work on a sequel. "I was always very protective of [Nightmare Before Christmas], not to do sequels... just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it," Burton explained. Sounds like any early plans of a sequel to this film were quashed by the main producer.

There was an amazing idea for Atlantis II, but it never came to fruition

The original film Atlantis: The Lost Empire wasn't exactly a smash hit. Because it underperformed, a sequel that was already in the works was canceled. While a few other spin-offs have been made, the original plan was for a full-length film.

Collider spoke to Kirk Wise, the director of the original film, about the canceled sequel. He explained, "[Story supervisor] John Sanford, Gary and I actually concocted an idea for a sequel to Atlantis." Unlike the spin-off show, "This was a feature-length, full-on, full-blown sequel to Atlantis," as Wise put it. Wise went on to describe a new villain who "was going to be wearing big, scary, wool, bulky, World War I-style clothing with a frightening gasmask to obscure [it]s face; a little Darth Vader-esque." At the end of the Disney movie sequel, the villain was going to be revealed to be Helga, the evil German femme fatale. Sounds like quite the movie!