Disney Animation is commemorating its centennial with the animated short, Once Upon a Studio, featuring nearly 40 returning voice talents. The film’s teaser has been launched, and it is described as a heartfelt homage to the iconic studio, its creative team, and its global fan base.
In a recent media showcase, Jennifer Lee, the top creative executive at Disney, recounted the emotionally impactful presentation by filmmakers Dan Abraham and Trent Correy, which deeply resonated with everyone present.
The film opens with a real-life sequence set in Disney’s animation headquarters, where a young staffer converses with the late Disney luminary, Burny Mattinson, a veteran of the studio since the ’50s. The narrative takes a magical twist when a framed Mickey Mouse image animates, inviting a plethora of cherished figures from Disney classics, both traditional hand-drawn and CGI, to come together for a celebratory group portrait. Characters range from those in old favourites like 101 Dalmatians and Beauty and the Beast to recent hits like Zootopia and Encanto. Even Asha, the lead character from the upcoming movie Wish, voiced by Ariana DeBose, joins the gathering.
Voice actors such as Paige O’Hara, Dwayne Johnson, and Josh Gad reprise their roles as Belle, Maui, and Olaf, respectively. The animation is freshly produced, but some historical audio, such as Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket from the 1940 film Pinocchio, was woven in.
Interestingly, the filmmakers made it clear that artificial intelligence was not employed in the making of the film, a fact that was well-received by viewers.
The short is slated to air on ABC on October 15 and will also play in cinemas alongside the upcoming film Wish, set for release on November 22.