When it's time to entertain the younger members of the family, it's no secret that plenty of parents reach for the nearest Disney or Pixar DVD. Animated films by those companies and others are often a great way to keep children occupied while also providing some wholesome fun for the adults in the room as well.
Movies like The Lion King and Toy Story are enjoyed by film lovers of all ages, which makes it no surprise that some studio somewhere is almost always working on what it believes will be the next big thing in children's entertainment. But for every movie aimed at children that goes on to become the next Frozen, there are also some kids' movies that never make it out of production.
Whether due to studio conflicts, a lackluster script or a crowded marketplace, some high-profile children's films simply failed to make it to the big screen and now sit permanently upon the pile of Hollywood's discarded projects.
Here are 20 Kid Movies Shockingly Cancelled Mid-Filming.
20 A Broken Toy
Disney fans who were around in the 1990s are likely aware that the House of Mouse had a bad habit of following up their successful theatrical releases with direct-to-video sequels that were not nearly as good as the original film.
It happened with The Lion King, it happened with Aladdin and it very nearly happened with Toy Story 2.
After the first film's success, Disney ordered a direct-to-video sequel only to then change their mind and try to stretch it into another theatrical release. The lack of a clear vision for the project caused issues and this led Pixar's John Lasseter to go back to the drawing board. Lasseter completely scrapped the original Toy Story 2 and had his team start over from scratch, leading to the movie we all know and love today.
19 Off To See The Wizard Again
It's no secret that The Wizard of Oz is one of the most beloved kids' movies of all-time. The 1939 film based off of the Oz books written by Frank L. Baum turned out to be a great success for MGM and is widely considered to be one of the most iconic films ever made.
In the 1950s, Disney saw the success that MGM had and wanted to try and recreate it, Disney-style. The Rainbow Road to Oz was to star Mouseketeers in all of the same roles from the original and Disney even aired previews for the film on television in 1957. Unfortunately for Disney, the original Wizard of Oz made its TV debut in 1956 and Disney ultimately decided that it would not be able to compete. The Rainbow Road to Oz never saw the light of day.
18 Once More Into The Grid
1982's Tron is another iconic and beloved film. Which is why it's a little surprising that it took Disney nearly three decades to make a sequel. Tron: Legacy released in 2010 to middling reviews but still performed well at the box office, well enough for Disney to begin work on a 3rd film in the franchise.
Titled Tron: Ascension, the Legacy sequel officially had director Joseph Kosinski attached to it in 2013. Kosinski apparently had the idea for a script, saying it would build off of what happened in the last five minutes of Legacy.
Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund had also agreed to reprise their roles from Legacy.
But Disney ended the project two years later, claiming it had never officially been given a green light in the first place.
17 Rotten Beanstalk
One of the more recent cancellations on our list comes to us from Disney. Gigantic was first revealed at the company's D23 convention in 2015. Gigantic got a lot of hype from the get-go, as the retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk had two Frozen songwriters attached to it. One of the songs was even performed at the announcement event.
But signs of trouble were seen when the film received multiple creative delays. Disney finally gave up in late 2017, saying that the movie's concept just wasn't coming together. What's really sad about this one is that it's believed the project was pretty far in development before the plug was pulled, meaning lots of artists and other staff saw all their hard work amount to nothing.
16 With Apologies To Gizmo
Gremlins is, of course, a beloved film starring everyone's favorite adorable monster, Gizmo, released by Warner Bros. in 1984. But long before that horror-comedy film took the world by storm, Disney had an idea for a movie called The Gremlins. The film would have been based off a 1943 children's book by Roald Dahl.
During World War II, some pilots often blamed imaginary "gremlins" for mechanical problems with their planes.
Dahl took this idea and created a book about airplane-destroying creatures who would eventually find redemption by learning how to fix planes instead. Disney wrote two different screenplays for the project and even released a promotional book that would tie-in to the movie before ultimately scrapping everything.
15 Too Dark For Disney
Pixar is obviously known for its animated CGI films, but the studio has at least attempted to work on a couple other projects over the years. One of those was Shademaker, which was a stop motion-based project. The Shademaker concept was pitched by Henry Selick, who had created other famous stop motion works like Coraline.
Disney is known to have put about $50 million into the project but unfortunately, it didn't work out. Some analysts said that it is possible Disney did not like the tone of the story Selick had come up with. Many of his previous stories had featured a darker tone and this might have proved incompatible with Disney and Pixar.
14 We All Live In A...
Yellow Submarine is, of course, the title of the famous Beatles movie released in 1968. Disney had plans to remake the movie using motion capture technology. Disney tapped Robert Zemeckis to direct the remake and everything seemed to be fine at first.
But then a movie called Mars Needs Moms flopped and that changed everything.
Mars Needs Moms was another motion capture movie created by Robert Zemeckis. The flop led Disney to take a closer look at the plans for Yellow Submarine and they ultimately concluded that the technology just wasn't ready. Given how often remakes of beloved films are often panned, we feel like Disney likely made the right choice on this one.
13 Hitchcock Homage
Fraidy Cat was supposed to be a comedy thriller from Disney that paid homage to old Alfred Hitchcock films. As the name implies, the movie would have followed a cat who went through his day literally scared of everything he encountered. The film got as far as some early concept art and animations but Disney ultimately scrapped the idea in 2005.
The exact reason for the cancellation was never revealed but some industry watchers claimed that perhaps Disney felt that Hitchcock was a bit too obscure in the 21st century for many in the movie's target audience. This one devastated a lot of fans that felt the material was strong enough for an earnest shot in the limelight.
12 Long Before Once Upon A Time
Anyone who has watched ABC's Once Upon A Time is probably quite familiar with the character or Rumpelstiltskin, as portrayed by actor Robert Carlyle. But before Once Upon A Time became a thing, Disney almost gave the famous storybook character his own movie.
Uncle Stiltskin would have been an animated feature that would follow along with the Brothers Grimm version of the character.
The concept was simple enough, with "Stiltskin" again kidnapping a child. But unlike the book, this story would have a happier ending for the character with "Uncle" learning the true meaning of family. It might be a bit on the sweet-side of things, but having a modern version of the character at all would have been a treat.
11 Move Over, Pocahontas
Long before Disney released Pocahontas, the House of Mouse was infatuated with telling the story of another famous indian. The concept actually started way back in 1937 as part of a Silly Symphony animated short featuring a child version of the character.
Disney liked the short and wanted to make a movie with an adult version of Hiawatha.
Ultimately, what might have killed Hiawatha was another Disney movie, Fantasia. Hiawatha was said to share some of the same artistic style as Fantasia and it was decided that Disney didn't need to make another movie that was so similar. By 1949, Hiawatha was dead.
10 Tragic Ending
When Disney's The Jungle Book released in 1967, the character of King Louie, played by actor and musician Louis Prima, was a big hit. Prima polled so well with audiences in fact that Disney wanted to create another animated film that would make Prima's voice the main attraction. Louis the Bear was to tell the story of a bear who escaped from a zoo with the help of some mice.
Sadly, this movie never reached completion because Walt Disney passed away.
The concept of the movie would live on, however, when Disney released The Rescuers in 1977. As for Prima, his voice will forever live on anytime someone queues up "I Wanna Be Like You."
9 Alien Action Hero
Remember what a bittersweet but heartwarming ending the original E.T. had? E.T. gets to go home but will forever remember his new friends, whose lives he has changed forever?
Yeah, let's forget all of that and make a horror movie! That was the concept that original E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison came up with for E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears. The movie would have had Elliot and friends rushing into the forest when they see a bright light and think their alien friend has returned.
But nope, it's just some new aliens who are here to scare.
The film was to conclude with E.T. showing up like an action hero and saving the day with his glowing finger. Yeah.. let's be grateful Steven Spielberg decided not to move forward with this one.
8 Opposites Attract?
Newt was announced by Disney as its latest Pixar film back in 2008. The film would follow two, well, newts who are forced together by humans to try and save their species. The only problem was, the male and female couldn't stand each other, making reproduction seem all but impossible.
The plug was pulled in 2010. The exact reason is hard to come by, but it's possible that like some of the other films on this list, Pixar and Disney just didn't think the film was up to snuff.
Pixar did manage to sneak a reference to the film into Toy Story 3 via a "Newt Crossing" sign in Andy's bedroom and another reference in Brave when a newt is used to brew a magical potion.
7 Rise Of The Rabbit
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was considered innovative for its time and has gone on to maintain its cult classic status across generations. In the late 1990s, rumors started flying that Steven Spielberg might be directing a prequel.
The prequel was to be called Who Discovered Roger Rabbit and would show how the famous rabbit became a Hollywood star. The project was killed because the project budget was just too high and rumors at the time stated that studio politics also contributed to the demise.
6 A Blockbuster Franchise Reduced To Ashes
While most of the kids' films on this list are animated features, we had to save a spot for the worst Harry Potter/Twilight rip-off of all time. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones released in 2013 as what was supposed to be just the first movie of a long-running franchise. The movie was based on the young adult novels by Cassandra Clare and everyone just assumed that this was another mega-blockbuster franchise waiting to happen. The first sequel, City of Ashes, was already announced and scheduled to start filming one month after City of Bones debut.
Then the receipts came in. The movie bombed hard at the box office, initially bringing in less than $40 million on a $60 million budget. The movie technically became profitable over time, finishing at $91 million, but the damage was already done. Executives took one look at the numbers and told the cast and crew of City of Ashes not to bother going to work.
5 Copycat Ants
Studios releasing similar films to compete with each other is nothing new in Hollywood, just look at the release dates of films like Deep Impact and Armageddon. In 1988, a project known as Army Ants was under consideration at Disney.
But then Jeffrey Katzenberg left Disney to form Dreamworks and started over on a new insect-based project. Meanwhile, John Lasseter pushed forward at Pixar on his own insect film. The result was A Bug's Life vs. Antz. A Bug's Life was more successful at the box office but neither film ended up being hugely successful, leading some to wonder what could have been if Katzenberg and Lasseter would have stayed together and finished Army Ants.
4 Almost Changed Cinematic History
Before Pixar existed, John Lasseter was a Disney animator. He specialized in computer-generated animation, of course, and once made a 30-second clip based off of children's book Where The Wild Things Are. Some people at Disney liked it so much they wanted to make a full movie.
But higher-ups at the company had second thoughts, canceled Lasseter's project and ultimately fired him. Ouch.
This freed Lasseter up to start working with Lucasfilm, which would eventually lead to the creation of Pixar. Of course, Pixar would eventually be bought out by Disney years later, bringing Lasseter full circle.
3 Look Under Your Bed
Monsters 2: Lost in Scaradise was another film created by Disney in an attempt to make a quick buck with a sequel to the popular Monsters Inc. A small Disney studio worked on this project at the same time they were trying to put together Finding Nemo 2.
The story would have had the characters from the first film searching for their human friend out in the real world, as Boo's family had moved to another house. Mike and Sulley then get trapped in the human world and the usual hijinks ensue. The higher-ups at Pixar ultimately nixed the idea, deciding to go with a prequel instead.
2 Another Children's Story Gets The Axe
Henry Selick makes his second appearance on this list, as the stop-motion specialist who directed James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas became interested in telling the story of Toots and the Upside Down House, a children's book by Carol Hughes.
Steven Soderbergh was to provide the script but Miramax, which was opened by Disney at the time, ended up pulling the plug on the project before it ever really got off the ground. It's a shame too, since the other movies under Selick's belt are such unique and inspiring films. Needless to say, seeing this film-maker's take on the source material would have been a delight.
1 Finding A Merger
Disney fans reading this list, of course, know that Finding Dory made a decent splash in theaters in 2016, 13 years after the original movie, Finding Nemo, was released.
It turns out though that Disney had wanted to return to the world of Nemo and friends much sooner than that.
Back when Disney and Pixar stopped making movies together in 2005, Disney still owned the rights to the movies it had made with Pixar during the previous decade. Disney set up a studio specifically to churn out sequels to old Pixar films, and Finding Nemo 2 was one of them. The failed project thankfully came to an end when Disney ultimately decided to just go ahead and purchase Pixar outright, bringing the two teams back together.
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