Disney Toon Studios
, behind such straight-to-DVD hits as The Lion King 1 1/2
, Bambi II
and Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure
, will cease making sequels in order to focus on original stories.
Friday's decision coincided with the announcement that DisneyToon now will operate as a separate unit of Walt Disney
Animation Studios under the supervision of Pixar
impresarios Ed Catmull
and John Lasseter
, who helped found DisneyToon 13 years ago and has been its president since 2004, now will be charged with "special projects" at Walt Disney Studios, including animation and live-action, a spokeswoman said.
Pixar executives have made no secret of their disdain for most Disney-animated sequels; four years ago -- long before Disney's purchase of Pixar -- Steve Jobs
called them "pretty embarrassing."
Pixar and Disney, though, will continue to work on Toy Story 3
for theatrical release in 2009. And DisneyToon will finish The Little Mermaid III
for a straight-to-DVD release, making that the final sequel planned from DisneyToon, a spokeswoman said.
The first "original" nonsequel movie to come from the restructured DisneyToon is Tinker Bell
. Although the character appeared in the 1953 Disney film Peter Pan
, executives don't consider it a sequel or prequel to that film because it's about Tinker Bell in the fairy world independent of Peter Pan.