10 Awesome Pieces Of Disney Concept Art From Unmade Movies

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Disney has always been a company at the forefront of creative animation and storytelling. They employed hundreds of artists and writers to create new and exciting ideas, but not all of these ideas were realized. For a company like Disney to have been around for decades, there have been a lot of concepts left on the cutting room floor and lost in the archives.

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That doesn’t mean those ideas were bad — it’s just that they didn’t quite work out the way Disney or the director intended at the time. Maybe one day these ideas will make their way to the public in some form, whether it’s in the form of a movie, a show, or even a ride in one of their theme parks.

“King of Shadows”


Shadow King concept art by Katy Wu
Art by Katy Wu; images found via @ArtofLostAndCan

It’s obvious that a company has money when it can cancel a 50 million dollar project! That’s what happened with The King of Shadows in 2012, due to concerns about future costs. While this film may be left in development Hell for the rest of its life, potential audiences can soak up the atmosphere in these vibrant concept photos by Katy Wu.

The film apparently followed a boy with abnormally long fingers as he encounters a living shadow and learns how to turn his gift of shadow puppetry into a weapon against an evil monster.

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‘Scary Cat’


Disney Movie Concept Art Defeat Fraidy Cat
Art by Hans Bacher; found via user DisneyTriviaBuff on Disney Wiki

Designed to be a comedic action film and a tribute to by Alfred Hitchcock film noir movies, what could have been another big step for Disney in the realm of mystery animated films will never see the light of day due to concerns over audience reception.

Hans Bacher perfectly achieves the slightly odd film noir style in its depictions of the environment. The first image appears to be the opening of a detective thriller – in this case featuring cats – and the second presents the living room as a peaceful, quiet place…with some suspicion on Oscar’s part, The Cat Who Would have been the main character solving a mystery.


‘Dead’


Concept art of 'Death';  three character sketch image divided into three
Illustrated by Claire Keane; images found via Twitter user @ArtofLostAndCan

dead was Disney’s attempt to take over At Terry Pratchett’s Discworld universe. Supposedly, the film would follow the storyline of Pratchett’s book of the same name, in which a boy becomes Death’s apprentice. It could have been a dark, whimsical look at death for a young audience, but it was never created due to financial issues. The Pratchett Estate Would Only Let Disney Have The Rights If It Takes The Whole Discworld frankness, which they were hesitant to do.

It’s a shame that this was never done. Pratchett’s books are well suited to Disney films with their well-crafted wit and satire.

“Kingdom of the Sun”


Sun Kingdom Concept Art;  two photos
Art by Craig Grasso (first image) and Paul Felix and Sai Ping Lok; images found via user Omnihollows on Disney Wiki

Kingdom of the Sun is an interesting case, as it was deconstructed and then rebuilt into something else entirely. In fact, the story of Inca gods, high priestesses and an unassuming llama herder embroiled in court intrigue is what ultimately became The Emperor’s New Routine. Kingdom of the Sun differed significantly from its final iteration: the original plot had to resemble by Mark Twain The Prince and the Pauper and starred the witch Yzma (Eartha Kitt) wanting to destroy the sun to become eternally young.

Unhappy with the disparate plot elements, the film’s trajectory was changed to a buddy comedy starring Emperor Kuzco (David Pique) and Pasha (John Goodman) as tracks. Perhaps a keen eye can spot similarities in this concept art between what was and what could have been. Craig Grasso, Paul Felixand Sai Ping Lok definitely get the beautiful Inca landscape and vibrant colors!

“Penelope and the 12 Months”


Concept art by Mary Blaire of
Art by Mary Blaire; images via user DisneyTriviaBuff on Disney Wiki

The concept art for the new Penelope and the 12 months promised a beautiful fantasy tale following a girl who can time travel. With the help of a grandfather clock, Penelope would have met the personifications of each month.

This concept art, designed by a Disney veteran Mary Blaire, gives a quaint and heartwarming feel to the film, and it’s a shame Disney decided not to go all the way. If taken in the right direction, this could have been a soothing and fun Silver Age Disney-style watch, perhaps even resembling the movies later produced by Studio Ghibli.


‘Don Quixote’


Concept art of
Art by Sandro Cluezo (first image) and Ferdinand Havarth (second image); images via Twitter user @ArtofLostAndCan and Disney Wiki

Originally developed as one of many Disney shorts, Don Quixote had a checkered career in Disney coffers. Having been pulled and watched and reworked and launched many times since the 1940s in various guises, it doesn’t seem likely that Don Quixote will ever become something real.

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But fans of Miguel de Cervantes The 17th century tale can imagine how it might come to life in Sandro Cluezo and Ferdinand Havarth skillful sketches. They inspire images of lofty quests, vibrant colors and outfits, and the hilarity of classic buddy comedies.

‘Hiawata’


Unrealized Disney Movie Concept Art
Art by Mel Shaw; found via Twitter user @ArtofLostAndCan

Loosely based on both the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem Hiawatha’s Song as well as the pre-existing stupid symphony “Little Hiawatha” character, this Hiawata had ambitions of becoming a real movie in the late 1940s. Although it was pulled and worked on several times, the story and angle waltz disney wanted turned out to be tricky. The base storyline centered around Native American tribes went through multiple reworks, until finally, in the aftermath of World War II, the decision was made to focus efforts on Cinderella in place.

by Mel Shaw the concept art work for this film reflects the intense realism that Disney wanted it to contain. Storyboards and concept art were later used to influence the look of Pocahontas. Who knows – if Hiawata had never been completed, it might have brought about Disney’s era of realistic darkness even sooner.

“The hero from elsewhere”


Concept art for
Art by Mel Shaw; via the Twitter account @Animated_Antic

Beautiful, atmospheric concept art crafted by longtime Disney artist Mel Shaw depicted a story in which two underappreciated boys escape their high school bullying by being transported to another world. It was meant to be a cross between live action and animation, to support its epic plot as the two boys journey through the strange planet of Gwyliath. Like many Disney films, it was an adaptation of Jay H. Williams’ delivered.

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The production was canceled due to the financial risks of combining animation and live-action – this was in the 70s before movies went above and beyond to prove it could work.

“King of the Elves”


Concept art by Aaron Blaise for the
Art by Aaron Blaise via aaronblaiseart.blogspot.com

Left in development hell for years, this urban fantasy seems to have the potential to be a fun adaptation from the writer. Philip K. Dick short story of the same name. The story follows a band of modern-day Mississippi elves who declare the human Calder to be their king after he saves their lives.

Beautifully detailed concept art by Aaron Blaise show how nature-centric this story was – and how profitable toys made based on these designs could have been had the project ever been developed.

‘Yellow Submarine’


Concept art and visual development for
Art by Punn Wiantrakoon, via Twitter user @ArtofLostAndCan

A fully CGI remake of The Beatles yellow submarine movie, disney yellow submarine a similar plot would follow: the four Beatles traveling through Pepperland to battle the music-hating Blue Meanies. It reportedly even featured the same Beatles songs from the original film.

While it’s interesting to think about the profitability of a 2009 Beatles movie remake, by Punn Wiatrakoon The concept art of the early developments offers a glimpse of the film’s aesthetic, and it was stunning! the Tim Burton-the feel of the Beatles mansion in the middle of London and the CGI models of the Beatles themselves make the movie look over the top and could have worked.

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