The Return of Jafar Revisited

The summer of 1994 was a big deal for the Walt Disney Company. Primarily, it marked the release of the studio’s biggest animated film to date, The Lion King, a film with a rocky production history that has become one of their most incredible success stories. But it was a summer of upheaval and major change, both among its top executives and within the studio’s storied legacy of animation. The Lion King celebrates its quarter-century anniversary in mid-June, but another 25th anniversary for Disney animation arrives this week, and we should acknowledge it even if it’s not for good reason: the release of The Return of Jafar.

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(Revisiting the Renaissance is a bi-weekly series in which Josh Spiegel looks back at the history and making of the 13 films of the Disney Renaissance, released between 1986 and 1999. In today’s column, Spiegel discusses the 1988 Charles Dickens adaptation Oliver & Company.)

When Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Frank Wells joined the C-suite at the Walt Disney Company in 1984, they did so with the intent of boosting the company’s profile, internally and externally. In the mid-1980s, Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios were just about the furthest thing from industry powerhouses. Disney’s theatrical output in the 1980s was meager, with just 28 films overall; it’s the lowest number of films they’d released in a single decade since the war-torn 1940s. But the new executives wanted more films, from more subsidiaries. They wanted Disney to be more than just a family-friendly studio.

Part of the problem is that Walt Disney Pictures was the kind of studio where A-Listers need not apply. Stars in their live-action fare could typically be found on network television sitcoms and dramas, and it was rarer still to find any big names in their animated films. Once Katzenberg and Eisner joined Disney, they were able to expand upon the recently created subsidiary Touchstone Pictures (whose first film Splash served as Tom Hanks’ breakout role and netted an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay) and lure in recognizable actors for mid-budget comedies and dramas, such as Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Ruthless People. For animation, thanks largely to Katzenberg, it took until the 1988 release Oliver & Company for big names to start making appearances.

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toy story 4 trailer

Woody, Buzz, and the gang are back, but in Toy Story 4 they find themselves grappling with a concept they have never faced before: existential crises. Picking up where Toy Story 3 left off, Woody and the toys are happily living with Bonnie, who has created a brand-new toy out of a spork that has some terrifying implications for the world of Toy Story. But the existential crises are just beginning, as Bonnie’s family sets off on a road trip vacation that brings Woody face-to-face with a familiar old friend. Watch the latest Toy Story 4 trailer below.

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Empire Strikes Back Animated Hoth Attack

Do you remember when we told you about the animated Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures animated shorts last fall? As part of the Star Wars Kids channel on YouTube, these animated shorts recreate scenes from the Star Wars movies with some added details and moments that make them a little more exciting for kids who maybe haven’t yet watched the live-action movies. And the latest installment gives a Rogue One style makeover to Darth Vader’s assault on Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back. Watch below! Read More »

the secret life of pets box office tracking

Superheroes can’t stop the super franchise that is The Secret Life of PetsThe Secret Life of Pets 2 box office tracking shows that Universal’s animated sequel is head toward $65 million during the June 7-9 weekend, soaring past its main competitor, Dark Phoenix, which is only tracking for $50 million.

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pet sematary mask kids

In this edition of Sequel Bits:

  • Behold new Toy Story 4 posters, as well as a car commercial.
  • Screenwriter Jeff Buhler has some ideas for a Pet Sematary sequel.
  • Jumanji 3 has wrapped.
  • The Terminator: Dark Fate trailer is coming.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters gets some monster-sized banners.
  • Angry Birds 2 is at Cannes, for whatever reason.

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disney+ animated shorts

Disney recently unveiled a whole slew of original programming for Disney+, their upcoming streaming service. But they’re by no means done. The House of Mouse just dropped info on three new animated shorts that will debut next year. The shorts come from people who worked on Disney pics like Bolt, Big Hero 6, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Zootopia, Moana, and Ralph Breaks the Internet, and more.

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Secret Life of Pets 2 trailer

There have been approximately 400 Secret Life of Pets 2 trailers, but I guess one more won’t hurt. The sequel to the 2016 animated hit once again will show viewers what our pets get up to all day when we’re not at home. The answer: murder. Okay, I’m kidding, that’s not what happens. But wouldn’t that be wild? Watch the final Secret Life of Pets 2 trailer below.  Read More »

Rick and Morty Season 4 Release Date

All of the networks and cable channels are announcing their new and returning shows for the upcoming fall television season, and Adult Swim has finally revealed the eagerly awaited information that Rick and Morty fans have been waiting for.

The fourth season of Rick and Morty will finally debut in November of this year, over two years after the third season finale aired in October of 2017. That’s a long wait for new episodes, but the good news is, we shouldn’t have to worry about these long waits between seasons anymore. Watch the Rick and Morty season 4 release date announcement below. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

South Park Escape Room

Have you heard of the latest entertainment sensation called escape rooms? A group of friends get together and get locked in a room full of puzzles, clues and locks that must be navigated in order to get out of the room. Each escape room usually has some kind of theme and narrative to add some layers of fun, and now Comedy Central’s best known series will be getting one of its own.

A new South Park escape room is opening today, May 15 at Escape the Room Chicago, and it will soon expand to more major cities around the United States. Find out about the new South Park escape room below. Read More »