Magical Sequels Await


Tyler Quisenberry

Lake Ridge yearbook student prepares to watch a Disney film. Photo courtesy of Tyler Quisenberry (ENN Staff)

Disney, known as the company where dreams come to reality, is known for its theme-parks, movies, and most prominently, its animated classics. Their movies have made a mark on multiple generations, spanning back to the Silent Generation with the release of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ in 1937. Currently, Disney is planning to release four sequels to some of their most popular franchises in the next few years. Namely: Zootopia 2, Frozen 3, Inside Out 2, and Toy Story 5. AP World History teacher, Debra Alsip explains that a quality sequel must add something new to the table, while still retaining some of its original charm.

“A good sequel is one where they stick to the regular format and do not change it too much. It in a way is an extension of the first film. I personally prefer older Disney movies like Peter Pan, Fox and the Hound, and Aristocats. A lot of the newer films are driven by money because people will pay to see them. I did like Zootopia, though, because of its animalization of occupations. A sloth being a banker is so accurate. It was funny, so I am hoping to see more of that in its sequel,” said Alsip.

Walt Disney Animation studios has produced 61 feature films over the past few decades; 31 of which have been sequels. Not to mention, Pixar, which is owned by Disney, has 8 sequels to its own animated content. Junior, Emily Dillon, believes that Zootopia does need any additional movies within its universe.

“A lot of Disney movies are standalone. Zootopia should be a standalone movie because it folds all together so perfectly. If there were to be a sequel, it would ruin some of the feel you get at the end of the movie. Truthly, they did not really leave room for another movie. Obviously they are trying to hash out another movie to get money out of it. My sister used to watch it constantly, so I hope they do it justice,” stated Dillon.

Toy Story can be said to be one of Pixar’s ‘gems,’ with three sequels for it so far; each one expanding on its world and story as the franchise continues. Recently, Pixar announced, along with other films, that Toy Story 5 was in development. This has stirred up some questions on whether or not it is needed. Freshman Isabella Irish questions the upcoming movie, and wonders if it lies in the money.

“Sequels are not necessary for all movies, yet building a world from the ground up can be a lot. You do not want to overwhelm people who want to watch it, so it is good to space it out between multiple movies. Though, I was surprised by hearing that another Toy Story movie was coming out because we thought it was going to end at the third one. I do not know if it’s going to be interesting enough to watch, it might just be about money for Disney. There are rumors that it is all they care about,” said Irish.

Disney movies have a history of making a lot of money. Of the new movies, the Toy Story franchise has made over 3.3 billion dollars worldwide, with Toy Story 4 grossing over 1 billion dollars when it debuted in theaters in 2019. The other predecessors of the upcoming sequels have made 850 million USD, (Inside Out) 1.2 billion USD (Frozen), and 1 billion USD (Zootopia). Junior, Rebecca Estrada, worries that the soon-to-be sequels are occurring out of capitalistic desires, rather than creativity.

“My love for Disney movies depends because I am not really a fan of Disney, but I like some of the movies. A lot of their content lacks substance and is too similar to one another. Especially with sequels following tropes like the roadtrip trope. Disney is predominantly made up of people who are greedy. I mean, Inside Out has already said what it needed to say about Emotion; it just seems unnatural to make a sequel out of it. There are a small number of people in the company who view their creations as passion projects, so hopefully they’ll adapt the sequels into something better,” stated Estrada.

Multiple Disney classics have been changed or edited in the past few years because they held up offensive or discriminatory content. In particular, ‘Song of the South,’ released in 1940, was removed from all platforms because of its portrayal of African Americans and plantation life. Alsip that Disney has made some positive changes over the years, especially with their diversity.

“Disney has kinda got their act together in the last several years by including more diverse characters. In the newer movies there are several princesses that can be relatable because they are not the stereotypical, white, blonde, blue-eyed protagonist. I think it is great for the kids, especially because it directly appeals to them. With sequels, Disney has the chance to implement more connections with their audience,” said Alsip.

Officially, there are 15 Disney princesses, from Snow White to most recently Raya from ‘Raya and the Last Dragon.’ Of these characters, Anna and Elsa from Frozen have had much of the spotlight since their movie initially launched. In fact, since marketing their merchandise back in 2013 when it came out, they have made 107.2 billion USD from marketing alone. Dillon hopes that Disney includes a spark of queer representation in the new movie by making Elsa canonically gay, as she has been theorized by the fandom to be.

“I actually am pretty excited for Frozen 3 because it did feel like they did leave a cliffhanger on it. I really hope this can be a chance for Elsa’s character to shine. I hope she gets a girlfriend so there is an openly lesbian couple on the big screens. It would be super interesting to see her relationship with this person and have that diversity in mainstream disney content. The fandoms would go crazy if this happened. More LGBTQ+ representation is needed within their movies,” stated Dillon.

Disney is a conglomerate company with many series in its catalog. They have ownership of Marvel movies, as well as Star Wars films, some of the most influential pieces of media in media culture. Of the current ten highest grossing movies, six of the rankings are under Disney. Their sequels may be just as critical to their company, as they have ignited the expansion of cinema as we know it, with new animated sequels nearly coming out every year. Nurse Denise Hernandez goes into what makes animated sequels so special.

“Disney movies are magical. My personal favorite is ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ because of the overall story and the nostalgia. I am actually looking forward to Toy Story 5 because I can resonate with the movies. My kids grew up watching it so it is special to me. I believe the 5th one is coming out to show our new generation what the old generation grew up with. Now young adults who grew up with those movies can introduce their kids to parts of their childhood,” said Hernandez.