Disney has an interesting relationship with movie sequels. While it often makes business sense for the company to pursue a follow-up film with the number ‘2’ in front of it, these titles have historically been seen as of secondary importance – often going straight to VHS, or DVD, whatever the ‘dump’ technology of that day might be.
That means there are plenty of Disney fans who have yet to experience the sequel stories of Hercules, The Little Mermaid, or Cinderella’s Jack Jack (he falls in love!) – which we won’t accept in a time when the Disney Plus streaming service offers a way to simultaneously reach a massive global audience of Disney aficionados.
Disney Plus is a slick portal for navigating decades worth of Disney movies and shows – not to mention Marvel TV shows and Star Wars films – and is the natural place to see some of our favorite Disney characters go through new trials and tribulations. (Happy endings don’t last in real life either, ok?)
With that in mind, we’ve brought together five Disney movies that have yet to get a sequel, and are ripe for either a second feature film or tie-in series for the Disney Plus platform.
More than anything else, in a time of indoors-living, as more and more films are skipping cinemas and going straight-to-stream, these are the Disney films we wish we could watch back-to-back with a worthy sequel.
1. Moana (2016)
I am Moana. Thanks to Lin Manuel-Miranda’s heart-stirring lyrics, a gorgeously 3D-animated world, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson playing a loveable (if selfish) scamp of a demigod, Moana is one of the best Disney movies of recent years.
Disney is reportedly in talks to make a sequel, but with nothing confirmed, we’re still having to cross our fingers until Moana 2 gets the green light. What makes Moana so perfect for a sequel, though, is where the first film leaves off – with her island tribe travelling out across the water to search shores anew.
There’s plenty of potential for ocean-driven narratives, whether that’s the trials of constant transit, the struggle to keep a sense of community on the seas, or possibly a search for the parents that abandoned Maui (Dwayne Johnson) in the first place. More songs from the creator of Hamilton are a necessity – and more gods and goddesses from Polynesian mythology wouldn’t go amiss either.
2. Zootropolis (2016)
With Zootropolis releasing in the same year as Moana, this was the first time Walt Disney Animation Studios had put out two feature films in the same year since the release of Treasure Planet and Lilo & Stitch in 2002.
Called Zootopia in the UK, this Disney movie imagines an animal society where prey and predator live peacefully side-by-side. Cheetahs and bison, lions and sheep, have put aside their ‘historical’ differences to create a working society – that is, until predators start going beserk and reverting to feral states. It’s up to a newly-minted police office – the first bunny to join the Zootropolis force – to figure out the mystery with the help of a suave conman fox.
Despite touching on such heady topics as workplace discrimination, biological essentialism, and societal division, it’s still a breezy and enjoyable film – helped by brilliant animation and a cameo role by Shakira as a popstar gazelle.
3. Tangled (2010)
This 2020 Disney adventure reimagines the story of Rapunzel to great effect. The animation is excellent, despite it now being a decade old, with boundary-pushing CGI techniques bringing its world to life in vivid detail. It’s helped by some quirky touches, like Rapunzel’s chameleon companion – and the charmingly vain love interest, voiced by Shazam!’s Zachary Levi.
It’s a lighter story then some of the more moving Disney films out there, with spontaneously singing taverns and thuggish twins toeing the line between cut-out stereotypes and loving tribute to the fairy tale tradition. As an exploration of gaslighting, though, it’s surprisingly progressive – and there’s plenty of stories to be told now that Rapunzel is truly free and out in the world.
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Yes, this is a Disney movie. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion classic from Tim Burton, the quirky mind who brought us Beetlejuice and (more recently) the live-action Dumbo reboot. It follows a demotivated skeleton living in Halloween town, and trying to put excitement into affairs by… putting himself in charge of Christmas instead. Cue plenty of spooks and ghouls, unforgettable songs, and a kidnapping of Santa Claus himself.
Is it a Christmas movie? A Halloween movie? The Nightmare Before Christmas has had us arguing the finer points of the two genres for decades now – but the main reason for a sequel is how the initial film hinted at several other worlds beyond its own, one for each major holiday.
If there was any way to get a St Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving crossover movie, this would be the way to do it. Or maybe just more of Jack Skellington: at this point, we’ll take anything.
5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Who can forget this movie? Blending live-action with 2D animation techniques, it did the unthinkable, showing off a wide cast of beloved Looney Tunes characters alongside real-life actors – including Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd – and pulling off the combination with aplomb.
It follows a private investigator, played by the late Bob Hoskins – yes, from that wonderfully bad Super Mario Bros. movie – looking into a murder in 1940s Brooklyn. Except, of course, that this version of Brooklyn is one where humans and cartoon characters (‘toons’) live side by side, like some kind of weird, cross-dimensional Zootropolis.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is unnerving, heartwarming, and a visual delight – with some breathtakingly good twists – and over 20 years later, it’s overdue a follow-up.