A collection of animation pitches made by John Cawley through three decades in the business.
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Disney Home Video Sequels
Original Pitch by John Cawley – 1996
BEHIND THE STORY...
Disney TV was in the midst of trying to create direct-to-video sequels on all of their feature films. Having seen some of their early attempts, I thought I could come up with better concepts. I went in and pitched several. Each was a one or two sentence log line. I then followed up by discussing the idea with the development person.
One dealt with THE LION KING and was a prequel. The head of development really loved this idea. During the pitch, I expanded on where the story would go, like discovering how Scar got his scar. They thought the story was not only excellent, but could lead to a whole new series based on the ‘younger’ Mufasa and pride. There was only one problem. Disney had just green lit a sequel, LION KING II. The development person stated mine was a stronger idea, and actually contemplated it as another direct-to-video. However, they then decided the LION KING II was so weak; it would probably kill the franchise. Even though they didn’t tell my story, I am glad the sequel, which was very good, did not kill the franchise.
One carried on the story from OLIVER AND COMPANY. The feature became the highest grossing animated film to that time, allowing Disney to re-claim their crown after AN AMERICAN TAIL had stolen it. The movie was sort of a funny-animal version of Oliver Twist. I moved it away from a gang of pickpockets to pack of rescue hounds. The development folks had zero interest in this project. THE LITTLE MERMAID had come and become a blockbuster. The studio thought of this film as something Disney ‘wouldn’t do anymore’.
I did several based on ROBIN HOOD, a fondly remembered film. Even though ROBIN HOOD was far from a classic film, I felt the concept (an animal version of Robin Hood) and cast of characters could lead to strong merchandise possibilities. Disney admitted that the characters could be converted into a strong toy line. However, the studio also thought the film was ‘beneath’ what they were doing at the time and did not see any reason to revive it.
Finally was one based on PETER PAN. I have never been a big fan of Disney’s PETER PAN. I always liked the Mary Martin TV musical better. However, one idea behind Barrie’s creations always intrigued me, a group of boys living in a land of mythical creatures, pirates and Indians. I thought it was a great variation on the Little Rascals comedies of early cinema. My concept was to focus on the Lost Boys while Peter was gone. At the time of this pitch, Disney had decided that they would refrain from sequels on Disney ‘classic’ films because they feared they could not match the animation style and skill with overseas work. They also worried about a concept that removed what they felt was the main character. I have pitched this concept to other studios. All have loved the idea of doing something with Peter Pan. But, like Disney, all felt Peter had to be a major player in the action. I still think they are wrong.
And now my pitch...
Direct to Video Sequels of Disney Classics
Animated Feature Proposals by John Cawley
THE LION KINGS - Based on THE LION KING
As young adults, Mufasa and Scar compete for the right to follow their father as king, and as mate for Sarabi. Even though born from the same litter, Mufasa follows an honorable tradition, while Scar consistently uses tricks and schemes.
MISSING PERSONS BUREAU - Based on OLIVER & COMPANY
Jenny’s parents, pleased at how Fagin and his pack helped her and Oliver, have given the former bum a financial assist. They set him and his canine friends up as a “missing person’s” company. Now the group must continually confront and conquer criminals to maintain their lifestyle... in spite of Fagin’s bumbling.
ROBIN HOOD “MID FILM” Concept - Based on ROBIN HOOD
Robin, Little John and Marian continue to thwart Prince John’s schemes to swindle the people of Nottingham in a frantic, “Dukes of Hazzard” style feel.
ROBIN HOOD “ROBIN’S QUEST” Concept - Based on ROBIN HOOD
Robin, Marian and Little John have tired of the delays to free King Richard. The trio head off across the continent to rescue the King. As they travel, the Sheriff who, under orders of Prince John, must keep the trio from reaching their goal is following their trail.
ROBIN HOOD “SON OF ROBIN HOOD” Concept - Based on ROBIN HOOD
Years later, Robin and Marian’s son is having an identity crisis. How can the son of the country’s greatest adventurer live up to the name when the country is at peace? Robin’s son along with his younger band of merry youth, continue to find wrong doings and adventure... even when they may not exist.
SAGA OF LOST BOYS - Based on PETER PAN
While Peter and Tinker Bell are away on other adventures, the Lost Boys must fend for themselves against the dangers and surprises of NeverLand.
text, image and format © John Cawley
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