Walt Disney's Unfinished Film Projects

With hundreds of film credits to his name, it's hard to believe that Walt Disney left anything unfinished. But the animation legend - who died December 15, 1966 - actually left behind a long list of movie projects in limbo. Here are some notable projects that Walt Disney Pictures had to shelve during Walt's lifetime. 

Peter Rabbit


Walt Disney made history in 1937 with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves -- the first feature-length animated movie. But he would've revolutionized the film industry with another story if he had a chance. In 1936, Disney wanted to adapt Beatrix Potter's tales of Peter Rabbit for the big screen, but the British author refused to give him permission.

Maybe the negotiations will be a prequel to Saving Mr. Banks (2013).

The Wizard of Oz


While working on "Snow White," Disney began thinking through an animated adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a follow-up. But plans were shelved when he found out that the film rights for the children's book had already had been sold to Samuel Goldwyn for $60,000 (which is just over $1 million in 2016 bucks).

Don Quixote

Don Quijote Illustration by Gustave Dore VII

Don Quijote (Don Quixote) Illustration by Gustave Doré, depicting the famous windmill scene.

Disney movies are sometimes criticized for being untrue to their source material. But trying to produce a faithful adaptation once sank a film project that Walt had hoped to make for years -- an animated featured based on Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote. Writers wanted to preserve so much of the source material that a feature based on the project's ambitious storyboards would've had a running time of two days

The Hound of Florence

Hound of Florence 1931

Disney's dreams of adapting the novel The Hound of Florence -- written by "Bambi" author Felix Salten's -- into an animated feature never came to fruition. But his plans weren't all for naught. In 1959, he released a loose adaptation of the story in the live action comedy The Shaggy Dog.

Bambi's Children


The first proposed Disney sequel would've been an adaptation of Felix Salten's novel Bambi's Children. But the ideal of a follow-up to the forest adventure didn't come to fruition until 2006 with the release of Bambi II, which -- unfortunately -- isn't about Bambi avenging his mother and cementing his rule in the forest a la Michael Corleone.

Currier and Ives

Awful conflagration of the steam boat Lexington

In the late 1940s, Disney wanted to dramatize the lithographs of Currier and Ives in a live action/animation mash up (like Pete's Dragon). But the project was canceled out of budget concerns. Basically, movies that mashed up real actors with cartoons weren't doing well at the box office.

The Gremlins


In the early 1940s, Walt wanted to adapt Roald Dahl's short tale "The Gremlins" -- those pesky sprites that sabotage airplanes -- into a World War II adventure film. The project was shelved for unknown reasons, but some think that there were concerns that the war would end before the movie was finished.

You can get an idea of what a Disney adaptation of Dahl's story would've looked like thanks to this illustrated edition of The Gremlins. Or you can watch William Shatner confront a plane-wrecking gremlin on "The Twilight Zone."

Chanticleer and Reynard

Vulpes et gallus

One of Disney's on-again/off-again projects over his career was an animated feature based on the medieval fables about Reynard the sly fox and Chanticleer the boastful rooster. The film would've satirized snooty French culture through the story of a rooster who was arrogant enough to think that the sun rose at his command.

The film went into production in the 1960s, but when the studio faced budget cuts due to the rising costs of building Disneyworld in Florida, Walt had to choose between producing Chanticleer and The Jungle Book. Walt died shortly before the adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's jungle adventure was released.

Banner image: Disney shows the plans of Disneyland to officials from Orange County in December 1954 (wikipedia.org)


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