For a lot of people, Disney is a mainstay of the household. From the movies to the shows to the toys, they have their work cut out for them in trying to come up with fresh stories to entertain and enchant their ever-growing audience. But not every idea that gets pitched becomes a reality, and sometimes the things that made it past the green lighting stage end up on the scrap pile anyway. Sometimes it's bad timing, others because the idea becomes too similar to other properties. Occasionally it's because the story doesn't jive so well with the Disney brand. Whatever the reason is that an idea doesn't make it all the way, the question of 'what if' will always linger. On this list, there are several movies that had some sort of production begun on them only to be shut down after literal years of development. It takes a lot to make a movie, so the question of what it could have been isn't obvious to those of us who weren't intimately connected to the projects.
Some items on this list have a future with Disney, should they ever be in the mood to look through works from the past. I personally would love to see a few of them come to life sometime down the road. Disney as a company isn't going anywhere, and if the Sword in the Stone remake is any indicator of where the production might go, then some of these and other dropped titles may still see the light of day thanks to the streaming service. The leading ladies in this list could have been princesses but just barely missed their chance.
As it turns out, the house of mouse was going to take on their own version of the timeless ballet, but the agreement for the studio to work on it fell through, so Richard Rich took it to New Line Cinema. It was beautifully animated and a staple for my childhood with unforgettable music. I can only imagine what it would have looked like had Disney kept the rights though, as it fit the formula for a 90's princess pretty well.
Disney crossovers aren't such a big deal these days, especially since the company has its hands in nearly every other company in some form or another. Considering how profitable the Disney Princess franchise is, it's a no-brainer that they should have their own video altogether. That's what Princess Academy was supposed to be until production mysteriously stopped. Perhaps that's one of the inspirations for the Disney Junior show Sophia the First, where princesses make cameos. At least we have Ralph Breaks the Internet.
In a world full of sequels and reboots, the idea of bringing back Disney's first lady isn't so hard to imagine. Snow White was the first princess to be on the silver screen, and thanks to her success, a sequel had been planned. Animators wanted to focus on Snow White's life while living with the dwarves, including a new song called "Music in Your Soup." It's uncertain why it never came to life, but it's interesting at the very least to think about what could have been.
One of my all-time favorite animated movies was Hercules. It had fantastic music, a remarkable main cast, and heartfelt story. In an era when Disney was making sequels straight to VHS, (Aladdin being the first to come to mind) there had been an idea to make a film based on Herc and Meg's daughter, Hebe. The idea was scrapped early-on; perhaps for the better. Although, having seen the original voice cast reunite for Kingdom Hearts 3, perhaps the book isn't closed on this for good.
Okay, I know that Minnie, Daisy, and Clarabelle are not technically Disney princesses. But given the fact that they've been around for the majority of the company's existence, I think it only right that they should be considered for this list. We have seen several movies starring their respective significant others, so this movie would have been a nice twist. It would have been called Swabbies, where our leading ladies are enlisted in the navy, where they'd be kicking tail and end up meeting their guys who were new recruits. You go, girls!
Based on the opera of the same name, Disney had pitched the idea to portray the story of Aida, an Ethiopian woman who becomes a servant to the Pharaoh's daughter and falls in love with an Egyptian soldier. It has a great stage show for those who are interested in watching the story, and was considered for a live action film. But for whatever reason, we have yet to see such a great story portrayed on screen. Perhaps because it's not quite a story for the younger crowd without some heavy editing.
Once upon a time, Disney was looking into getting the rights to L. Frank Baum's classic story, The Wizard of Oz. Not only would that have made Dorothy a Disney princess, but who knows what direction they would have taken with the now classic film. Had they secured the rights, it's not hard to imagine that they would have also worked on The Rainbow Road to Oz. Believe me, L. Frank Baum left quite a bit of source material to work with.
Okay, so earlier we talked about a potential sequel for Hercules involving their daughter. This time though, it was a different pitch. In this proposed film, Herc would be off fighting the Trojan war and Meg, not Hebe, would be considered the princess. The film would have largely revolved around Herc and his antics during the war. Although Meg hasn't yet been crowned as an official princess, another successful film may have changed that. Personally, I'm perfectly happy that they didn't go that distance.
Just like the previous entry, Disney had started work on a film that didn't have a princess as the main character, but would likely have found a way to feature one. This project was called King of the Elves and would feature all kinds of mythological creatures like dwarves, trolls and of course, a bunch of elves living in the Mississippi Delta with a human named Calder. It even was thought that they'd put it out in 2013 instead of Frozen! Unfortunately, story problems popped up and production was canceled.
Reynard the Fox was a title being considered all the way back in 1937, and was based on a set of 11th-century poems. Part of the title was the romance of Reynard, which of course means a lovely lady would have been involved. This was the era of Disney princesses where lack of screen time didn't keep you from being considered an official member of one of Disney's most exclusive clubs. Given that Maid Marian was a fox princess, my guess is this one is out.
Based on the ice skater Sonja Henie, the unreleased film Sonja Henie Fantasy would have focused Sonja herself as an athlete and skater. It hadn't gotten far enough in for them to decide if the film would be live action or animation, but there has been at least one piece of concept art of Sonja skating with a polar bear. With as well as the film I, Tonya (based on skater Tonya Harding) did, perhaps this idea is ready for another look.
Based on the old story Jack and the Beanstalk, Gigantic was set to be released after Frozen 2 later on this year. It had some really promising people working on it, including a director of Captain Marvel and songwriters for "Let it Go." Unfortunately, it has since been replaced by an untitled project. It would feature Jack and an 11-year old giant girl who stands at 60 feet. Perhaps we'll get to see it one day, as a lot of work had already gone into it.
Tam Lin was going to be a film based on a Scottish fairy tale of the same name. The film was pitched to Michael Eisner, who ultimately rejected it. The company had been going through a bit of a power struggle between Eisner and Roy E. Disney. The film bounced to another studio who ultimately chose not to make it either. I bet it would have been better than what we got with Merida in Brave. At least, in my opinion.
Art by Arla Kean.
Along the same lines as Fantasia, Disney's Musicana was going to combine jazz, modern art, and myths. There were a few bits planned for the feature film, including a bit with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong as frogs. It is rumored that the film never saw the light of day simply because the Disney studio wanted to put more funds into the upcoming film Mickey's Christmas Carol. Taking money from the unreleased project makes for an easy go-to. What a shame.
Given Disney's love for tying princesses together with love stories, the unmade film My Peoples would have been a shoe-in for a princess film. The idea of the premise was that 3 kids and a ghost would have spent the entire movie trying to get a pair of star-crossed lovers together. Voice actors had already been chosen and everything, and one character would have looked like Abe Lincoln made out of scraps. Instead, Disney decided to forgo this project in order to create Chicken Little. Well, they say hindsight is 20/20.
Remember the old story Rumpelstiltskin? Back in 2003, Disney bought a story they would have called Uncle Stiltskin, and it would have instead talked about how Rumpelstiltskin wanted a child and tried to get one by spinning straw into gold. When that doesn't work, it somehow ends up he finds a feral child raised by wolves. It was in production at the same time as Tangled, so perhaps they made the right choice on that one, given how much success they found in Rapunzel's story.
Similar to what Disney gave us in Jasmine, Banu Goshasp is an Iranian story of a very clever princess. Given that Aladdin's story was originally supposed to be set in China, I have a good feeling that they took a lot of inspiration for that princess from Banu Goshasp's stories when they turned the setting for that movie into a middle eastern desert. Unfortunately, because Aladdin did so well, it's hard to imagine Disney ever releasing a movie featuring this princess. One story talks about how she prevented herself being put into an unfavorable marriage. Check it out here.
Just like the previous entry, Disney probably won't release a movie featuring the story of Iara because she's very similar to another very popular princess. Iara is a mermaid who has a collection of stories. Based on myths from Brazil to explain why people occasionally went missing in the jungle, the Iara follow a lot of your typical mermaid rules. They are eternally young, although they end up living most of their lives alone because their lovers age and pass. Needless to say, it would need some editing.
Art by Trixks
Based off a Russian woman who is incredibly progressive, Vasilisa Vasilyvena was the story of a woman who could fight as well as a man and enjoyed many of the same activities as her male counterparts. She eventually catches the eye of a czar (or king), who invites her to dinner where he learns that she is a woman, even though she acts like a man. You can learn about her as well as a few others thanks to a fantastic artist named Jason Porath by following the link here.
Although not technically a princess, Tinker Bell has found her way into the circle of very popular ladies with her own franchise. So far they've only made six, but a seventh film was in the works. Not much was known about the film in general, but it was canceled due to story problems. I personally would love to see another movie featuring Terrance, as Jesse McCartney is incredibly talented in his voice actor, and his character made for some fun interaction with Mae Whitney's Tink.