Imagine the world of Walt Disney where Elsa is evil, Simba is a snob and Cinderella is a villain. There is no music and the characters truly aren’t what they seem. Can you picture it?
Pitching a script to big-shot Hollywood producers is no easy task, especially among creative minds who make high demands. Let’s face it. Hollywood producers are notorious for their ridiculous suggestions and insane demands. Don’t believe us? Just look back at the giant robot spiders and Will Smith’s character in The Wild Wild West. This goes to show that, sometimes, producer suggestions really embody the good, the bad and the ugly.
Many Disney movies that we know and love would actually be completely different had the studio gone blindly with the original story pitch and ignored the demands and suggestions of producers. While this may not seem significant, this list of 10 Disney films will leave you thanking Disney producers for saving you, your childhood and your children from emotional scarring and trauma of these original, off-the-wall scary storylines.
#10 – Up
What’s the best way to get rid of a villain? Muntz, the bad guy in Up, falls to his death when he trips over balloon lines. But, this almost didn’t happen. The writing team was actually stumped over creating a good ending for the movie’s geriatric villain and, as a result, wrote multiple endings.
Creatively blocked and drained of inspiration, the team ripped off an idea from The Shining and called it an “homage.” In an early script, Muntz was supposed to chase Kevin down a maze (sound familiar?) and become lost, leaving him to wander forever. Now, as much as everyone loves a classic movie reference, we can’t help but think that this psychologically inspired horror ending would have sent many kids to the child psychiatrist! Whew! We dodged a bullet on that one!
#9 – Frozen
“Let it go-oooo! Let it go-ooooo!” Now that this catchy tune is in your head (you’re welcome!), you probably already know that Frozen is a gripping coming of age story as Elsa struggles to figure out what exactly to do with her cryogenic powers. However, the original version of Frozen was far different as Elsa was cast as a villain and the ice palace was her evil lair.
Elsa quickly went from terrifying temptress to a beautiful princess when the producers first heard “Let It Go.” With lyrical themes of self-acceptance and personal empowerment, the producers jumped on the positive princess bandwagon and had the entire movie rewritten just because they loved the song! Needless to say, the producers simply couldn’t “let it go” when it came to this princess and her powers.
#8 – Toy Story 3
“Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!” From the original Toy Story to Toy Story 3, Andy, Buzz and friends have captured the hearts of children around the world. Things, however, were much different in the original Toy Story 3 script because Andy didn’t go to college and Buzz and Woody never went to daycare. Instead, their journey took them all the way to Taiwan where most toys are born.
Why the change? With a three-movie deal, Pixar and Disney negotiations took a sour turn, leading Disney to hire a new studio, Circle 7. The new team pitched their version of Toy Story 3 filled with action-packed mediocrity as a malfunctioning Buzz was shipped to Taiwan, causing Andy and the other toys to launch a globetrotting mission to save him. With little resemblance to the first two films, Circle 7’s story thankfully flopped and Pixar came to the rescue yet again.
#7 – Toy Story 1
Can you imagine Toy Story without Andy as a cowboy or Buzz as an action figure? It’s hard, isn’t it? The original Toy Story was actually pitched with an entirely different cast. Everyone’s favorite toy cowboy was originally drawn as a ventriloquist puppet (think of Achmed, Jeff Dunham’s skeleton terrorist puppet). We know what you’re thinking: Woody almost turned out to be very lame. Thanks to the animation gods for a cosmic intervention, creative minds won the battle, giving us the Andy we know and love today!
But Woody wasn’t the only character who underwent a dramatic makeover. The original Buzz Lightyear was intended to be a one-man tin solider marching band and, instead of reaching for the sky, he was reaching for his trombone. Inspired by an early Pixar animation short called Tiny Toy, the original Buzz was named Tinny, a far cry from his action figure status! Thanks to another miracle by the creative gods, Pixar rewrote the character and “Buzz to the rescue” was born!
#6 – The Lion King
What does Shakespeare have to do with Disney? The wacky world of Walt Disney almost went off the deep end with its original version of The Lion King as a mix between Shakespeare’s Hamlet and The Lord of the Rings. The original “King of the Jungle” was about an epic jungle battle between lions and baboons. Sounds like a completely different world, doesn’t it?
As if that wasn’t enough, Simba wasn’t the lovable orphan we know and love and Scar wasn’t even his uncle! Instead, Simba was a self-entitled, lazy and privileged snob with a trust fund and most likely a summer dwelling in the jungle version of the Hamptons! Scar was the evil baboon overlord scheming his way to power. Needless to say, this storyline wasn’t a hit and neither was the second version, which was more like a National Geographic documentary. After three extensive rewrites, the musical as we know it today was born!
#5 – Lilo & Stitch
From a display of family values to portraying Elvis as a model citizen, Lilo & Stitch brought quirky friendship and humor to the silver screen. But, did you know that it was almost the story of an animal-murdering asshole alien?
In one of two deleted scenes, Stitch transforms from a lovable little menace to a murderous mutant. When Lilo finds and befriends a cute fish and shows it to Stitch, he smashes it against the rocks. The fish, still twitching, is then mauled by a flock of seagulls despite Lilo’s failed attempts to save it. Thanks to the good judgement (and sanity) of the producers, the murderous scenes were deleted, sparing kids from seeing Stitch’s horrible behavior and making him forever more loveable because of it. We can only imagine the uproar of parents and the child therapy needed if Disney had kept the original scenes!
#4 – Pocahontas
Do you remember the ever annoying Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace? Since Pocahontas has a fairly serious storyline, far from the cries of epic lightsaber battles in space of course, Disney producers and marketing gurus thought that Pocahontas needed a clumsy sidekick like Jar Jar for comedic relief. Can you imagine a Pocahontas and Jar Jar friendship?
Meet Red Feather, Pocahontas’ clumsy wild turkey sidekick with a proclivity for falling down effortlessly in more dramatic scenes. And, as with any comedic character, a funny voice followed suit with the talents of overweight funnyman, John Candy. Unfortunately, John died before recording began and producers were forced to rethink the character, ultimately deciding to drop the falling fanatical turkey.
#3 – Bambi
“You can call me Flower if you want to,” said the wide-eyed skunk to a young Bambi in an unlikely friendship. This moment of childlike wonder might not have ever existed had the original Disney storyline made it to the silver screen. As Bambi experiences the death of his parents and the burning of his home, it’s hard to imagine that the original version of Bambi’s life was supposed to be even more graphic! Talk about some serious emotional turmoil for Bambi and his fans!
Disney’s original storyline for Bambi shared hardcore life lessons about the inevitability of death both in its characters and its graphics. As Bambi runs through the woods, he stumbles not only on the dead corpse of his mother, he also finds the charred remains of the hunter who killed his mom and died in the forest fire. Needless to say, we sure are glad that Flower the Skunk made the final cut as all of that death and destruction sure would be a lot to handle for young, impressionable minds!
#2 – Alice in Wonderland
Aldous Huxley, the famous author of Brave New World, wrote the first script of Alice in Wonderland. Huxley and the creative team wanted to turn the script into a live action movie where Alice and other characters were animated much like the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. While a neat idea, the end result was an awkward flop.
Originally titled Alice & the Mysterious Mr. Carroll, the movie featured Mr. Carroll following Alice around absolutely everywhere, all the time! While the concept itself was more annoying than awkward, the rumors behind Mr. Carroll, the author of the original book, was enough to cause producers to nix the idea. With numerous allegations about Carroll being a pedophile, seemingly the Michael Jackson of his era, Disney figured having a creep following a little girl might not be the best message for young viewers.
#1 – Peter Pan
“All you need is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust,” didn’t you know? The Peter Pan we know and love is entirely different from Disney’s original interpretation of the boy who refused to grow up. Truth be known, Disney’s original Peter Pan was a knife-wielding child abductor who made peace with the Indians. Nope, we aren’t kidding!
As the Lost Boys grew bored and longed for a “real mother from the real world,” Peter happily pulled out a knife and said, “Come on Tinkerbell! Let’s kidnap one! From Tinkerbell’s chloroform inspired fairy dust to Peter’s breaking into the Darlings’ home holding a rope and knife, Disney’s original Peter Pan took creepy to an entirely new level as Peter was drawn standing over a little girl’s bed slyly saying, “Pretty…isn’t she, Tink?”