Disney is marking its 100th anniversary with a heartwarming original short film titled “Once Upon a Studio.” The film is a gathering of 543 beloved characters from more than 85 Disney films and short films. ABC unveiled Disney’s 100th-anniversary celebration and the remarkable short film on October 15 at 8 p.m. ET, where host Kelly Ripa also delved into Disney’s upcoming projects. In case you missed the premiere, don’t worry; you can still watch the film on Fubo TV and Hulu+ Live TV. The official trailer for “Once Upon a Studio” was released just three weeks ago on Disney’s official YouTube channel.
Emotional Reunion of Disney’s Beloved Characters
According to the official synopsis, “Once Upon a Studio” is an “all-star ensemble” of cherished Walt Disney Animation Studios characters. They come together for a “joyful, entertaining, and emotional reunion” as they assemble for a spectacular group photo to celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary. Disney enthusiasts couldn’t contain their excitement and flocked to social media to share their thoughts and emotions.
One fan expressed, “That short film brought tears to my eyes. You’ve been a part of my life for 50 years – since I was born. My first words were ‘Donald Duck’ (thanks to my brother). Thank you, Disney, for the adventures you brought my family, for the wonder you’ve provided, and for the dreams and magic.”
Another fan shared, “That short film brought me to tears. Thank you to the animators and the creators of Disney. You bring us the magic.” One more fan remarked, “This is so nostalgic! It reminds me of my childhood. Those were the gems! I can’t understand cartoons these days with so much technology but no content. Mickey Mouse is a legend!” Adding to the slew of heartfelt comments, another social media user said, “Now, this is something I wish to see Disney do more. A Mickey Mouse film with this kind of heart would have been some of their best stuff in years with the character.”
A Glimpse of Hand-Drawn Animation’s Revival
“Once Upon a Studio” breathes life into hand-drawn animation, offering a glimmer of hope for its revival at Disney. This short, where 2D animation takes center stage in a multi-character crossover, is a momentous addition to the 100th-anniversary legacy. It’s a reason to celebrate as 543 newly animated characters, predominantly hand-drawn, step out of their photographs in the live-action Roy E. Disney Animation building to reunite for a group photo.
The short film premiered on October 15 during ABC’s “The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration.” Although it doesn’t play before Disney’s “Wish,” it will qualify for an Oscar run at the El Capitan in Hollywood. One of the highlights is a touching tribute to Walt Disney, with legendary composer Richard Sherman, aged 94, playing a new version of “Feed the Birds” from “Mary Poppins” on the piano.
The Making of “Once Upon a Studio”
“Once Upon a Studio” was directed by Dan Abraham and Trent Correy, who developed the idea over eight months during the COVID-19 pandemic. They pitched it over Zoom to Jennifer Lee, Animation’s chief creative officer and the screenwriter of “Wish.” The short film blends hand-drawn animation and CG animation with live action, showcasing over 500 characters from more than 85 features and shorts. The creators aimed to craft something that celebrated Disney’s history and legacy, using characters that people have cherished over the years.
To bring this vision to life, Disney had to establish a 2D animation pipeline alongside CG character and VFX pipelines. Eric Goldberg supervised the 2D animation, with the assistance of other hand-drawn animation experts and five 2D apprentices. Each animated character had to be rendered exactly as they appeared in their respective films, maintaining the unique qualities of each era of Disney animation.
A Magical Nostalgic Journey
“Once Upon a Studio” is a delightful blend of nostalgia and magic, with beloved characters from different eras interacting in unexpected and heartwarming ways. It’s a celebration of the rich history and its enduring impact on generations of fans. The short film promises to be a cherished addition to Disney’s 100th-anniversary celebrations.