When the 1997 animated film Anastasia was released in theaters by 20th Century Fox Animation, it was immediately mistaken by many viewers as a Walt Disney Animation Studios film. The film is a retelling of the life of the Grand Duchess Anastasia. The animation style and storytelling were very similar to Disney animation, as the directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman were both former Disney animators.
On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company officially acquired 21st Century Fox for $52.4 Billion dollars, which in turn means that Disney owns the rights to the now twenty-year-old Anastasia film. So, here’s the question. Should Anastasia be considered a Disney Princess?
Obviously, this is a touchy subject amongst Disney fans, especially traditionalist. It will really depend on how Disney embraces this new acquisition. If they keep 21st Century Fox as its own branch of the company, it seems unlikely that Anastasia will be put under the Disney Princess banner, but if suddenly Disney considers Anastasia a Disney film, then it would almost seem strange to exclude her.
The case of Anastasia draws the most parallels to Princess Leia Organa-Solo of the Star Wars franchise who still isn’t considered a Disney princess by Disney. Both Leia and Anastasia were acquired princesses so it leaves them at a strange halfway point. Discernibly, the largest difference between Leia Organa-Solo and Anastasia is that Leia Organa-Solo isn’t an animated character, a characteristic that seems to be a mandatory factor to be considered an official Disney Princess. So does this put Anastasia in her own category?
Another Princess that Anastasia draws parallels with is Princess Merida. Merida has been officially coronated as a Disney Princess, but she was created and developed by Pixar, an acquisition of Disney. So, you might think that clearly Anastasia should be considered a Disney Princess. Not so fast. Merida was created and developed by Pixar, but when Brave (Merida’s film) was created, Disney had already acquired Pixar. So even though she wasn’t created by Disney animators, the Pixar animators who did create her were technically employed by The Walt Disney Company as Pixar’s parent company.
It seems unlikely that Disney will make Anastasia a Disney Princess. Largely because her film wasn’t as big of a blockbuster hit as the Disney animated films that were released around that same era. The 1997 Anastasia film made $139.8 million dollars in the box office, for comparison, the 1995 Disney animated film Pocahontas made $346.1 million dollars in the box office, and Pocahontas isn’t even close to being one of the biggest box office successes for Disney in that era.
Lastly, the previously mentioned directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman left Disney because they were discouraged with the way the studio was run. So out of respect for them, should Anastasia stay as her own entity? I would imagine that both Bluth and Goldman are fairly upset that Anastasia could potentially be added to the Disney Princess club.
What do you think? Should Disney embrace Anastasia as a Disney Princess or do Disney Princesses need to be developed and created by Disney to be considered a Disney Princess?
Image Credit: 21st Century Fox-Disney