Disney Animation has released a new short film called ‘Once Upon a Studio’ to mark the 100th anniversary of the company. The film features 543 Disney characters from more than 85 feature-length and short films, who come together for a group photo in a stunning tribute to the legacy of storytelling, artistry and technology.
A Joyful and Emotional Reunion
The film begins with Mickey Mouse, the first and most iconic character of Disney, entering the studio and greeting the audience. He then walks through the hallways, where he encounters various characters from different eras and genres of Disney animation. He invites them to join him for a special occasion: a group photo to celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary.
The film showcases the diversity and richness of Disney’s animation history, from the classics like Snow White, Cinderella and Pinocchio, to the modern hits like Frozen, Moana and Zootopia. The film also pays homage to some of the lesser-known or forgotten gems, such as The Black Cauldron, The Rescuers and Treasure Planet.
The film is full of Easter eggs and references for the fans to spot, such as the hidden Mickeys, the Pixar lamp, the Marvel logo and the Star Wars lightsaber. The film also features the voices of over 40 original voice actors, including Robin Williams as the Genie, Idina Menzel as Elsa and Dwayne Johnson as Maui.
The film culminates in a spectacular group photo, where all the characters pose together in front of a giant mural depicting Walt Disney himself. The film ends with a heartfelt message from Mickey Mouse: “Thank you for being part of our family for 100 years. And remember, it all started with a mouse.”
A Technological and Artistic Achievement
The film was written and directed by Dan Abraham and Trent Correy, who are both veteran animators at Disney. They said that they wanted to make a film that would honor the legacy of Disney animation and celebrate its future.
The film was produced by Yvett Merino and Bradford Simonsen, who said that they faced many challenges and opportunities in making the film. They said that they had to coordinate with different departments and studios across the world, as well as secure the rights and permissions for using the characters and their voices.
The film was meticulously hand-drawn by a team of animators, who aimed to make each character appear as if they had just stepped out of their respective movies. They said that they studied the original films and their styles, and tried to replicate them as faithfully as possible. They also used computer-generated animation for some of the backgrounds and effects.
The film was also a tribute to Burny Mattinson, who was employed at the company for 70 years spanning from working in the mailroom to being an animator and story artist to directing feature films. Mattinson filmed his opening sequence in August 2022, six months before he passed away at age 87. He did have the opportunity to see the film.
A Streaming Sensation
The film made its streaming debut on Disney+ on October 16, 2023, as part of Disney’s epic hundred-year anniversary celebration. The film received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, who praised its nostalgia, humor and emotion.
The film also became a trending topic on social media, where fans shared their reactions and opinions. Many fans expressed their admiration and gratitude for Disney and its characters, who have been part of their lives for generations. Some fans also shared their favorite moments or characters from the film, or challenged others to name all the characters in the group photo.
The film also played theatrically in front of the Disney100 special engagement of ‘Moana’, which is now showing in theaters through October 26. The film will also air on Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Freeform, FX, FXX and FXM, with additional airings on Disney Junior on October 18 and on Disney Channel on October 22.