Throughout the summer con season, countless barrels of virtual ink have been spilled detailing the slate of Disney+ original shows. Fans of franchises like the MCU and Star Wars have a lot to look forward to, with the Mandalorian, WandaVision, What If?, and other shows. But that isn’t the only reason we’re excited about Disney’s gauntlet throwing new service.
For anyone who didn’t wisely hang on to their VHS collections in those thick plastic cases, Disney+ represents the chance to finally revisit some of the studio’s classic films. While the “Disney Vault” technically only refers to its animated classics, the fact is there are decades of films that are either out of print or simply haven’t been made available in this volume on streaming services despite some DVD or BluRay releases in recent years.
Attractions Magazine compiled a list of all the movies that appear to be launch-day titles, which we’ve dug through looking for personal gold. While the honest answer to “What are you going to watch first?” is “Yes,” here are some of the movies we’re most excited about.
Walt Disney Pictures
The Sword in the Stone
This 1963 animated Arthurian tale was the last animated movie released before the death of Walt Disney. It’s also the animated Disney film to feature music by the prolific Sherman Brothers, the architects of some of the most popular and catchy Disney songs of all time. While it’s not surprising that Sword in the Stone hasn’t had as much staying power as other Disney classics, it’s still one we’re excited to revisit. It’ll be worth it if only for one bizarre quirk: its main character, Wart (a.k.a. Arthur) is voiced by three different actors, and even blends their work together often within the same scene.
Pete’s Dragon (’77)
Those who only saw the 2016 non-musical remake of Pete’s Dragon might be tempted to think of it as the grittier, darker version. But that lumberjack-Jungle Book wannabe can’t hold a candle to the original. While both tell the tale of an orphaned boy, Pete, who befriends a sometimes invisible dragon Elliott, only the original version features the literally gritty (of the covered with dirt variety, see above image) seaside hamlet of Passamaquoddy. Plus it has not one but TWO different upbeat wacky songs about child slavery (“Happiest Home in These Hills,” “Bill of Sale”). Last but not least, it also features a villain song in which two snake-oil salesmen gleefully sing about how they’re going to chop up the titular dragon for parts and profit (“Every Little Piece”).
Walt Disney Pictures
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
Audiences today likely know Kurt Russell either for his many collaborations with John Carpenter or as Star Lord’s dad-planet Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. But many may not know that he was once the star of a trilogy of sci-fi comedy films for Disney that began with The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. In this precursor to Chuck, Russell stars as Dexter Riley, a college student who gets infused with a supercomputer (or, since it was 1969, a computer) and becomes a human computer who runs afoul of a gangster played by Cesar Romero, so technically this movie could be considered another Joker origin story.
The Black Cauldron
Though released theatrically in 1985, The Black Cauldron didn’t receive a home video release until 1998. As such, Black Cauldron remains the white whale of many Disney film fanatics. Disney Studios had spent the entirety of the 70s attempting to adapt Lloyd Alexander’s book series into a film. The result was Disney’s first PG-rated animated film, which so upset then-Chairman of Disney Studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg that he tried to take the movie into the editing bay to re-edit it himself. After failing to make back even half of its $44 million budget, The Black Cauldron was known as “the film that almost killed Disney.” Perhaps its most prevailing legacy though is that it served as inspiration for what the Defunctland YouTube series calls “Disney’s Scariest Attraction.”
A Goofy Movie
There are a lot of other movies that we could round this list off with. It could be the kind-of-steampunk-but-not- quite-and-kind-of-Sherlock-Holmes-but-not-quite-but-also-a-mouse The Great Mouse Detective. It could be the Witch Mountain series, which is deceptively actually about aliens and not witches. Or it could be the Brave Little Toaster’s two sequels, which Disney owns (but not the original, which they don’t). But no, it’s A Goofy Movie because for some reason there is a not-insignificant amount of people online who unabashedly stan for this movie. It was finally released this year in an exclusive for Disney Movie Club members, but launch day at Disney+ is the first chance many of us will have had to find out just what our friends have been talking about this whole time.
Featured Image: Walt Disney Pictures