A couple of little-known ideas that have been & could have been...
Every fan of certain animated movies feels a sense of sadness once the end credits roll on their favorite animated movie. Oh, if only there were more adventures, more fun, more songs with their favorite heroes and heroines...!
Some animated movies do get a continuation and are considered to be very good or better than the original [a la the "Toy Story" franchise, for example], others [the "Balto" trilogy, for example], and some just manage to overdo it with not only movie sequels, but also a TV series [two Universal Studios titles - "The Land Before Time" and "An American Tail" - are good examples, though the first is more notorious and most known for overdoing this with 12 Direct-to-Video sequels and a 26-episode TV series].
Being a film released by Walt Disney Studios in 1970 and with a cast of colorful characters that baby-sat children and charmed animation fans all over the world, it's normal even for writers to plot out ideas of how to continue the story after "THE END" for Duchess, Thomas O' Malley and that trio of adorable kittens.
A couple of years following the film's release, Toonopedia states that a couple of comic book spin-offs were created - "The AristoKittens" to follow the antics of Toulouse, Berlioz and Marie, and "O' Malley and the Alley Cats" followed the swinging alley cat and his band of jazzy musicians - but they are hard to find today; each series managed to last for nine issues between 1971 to 1975 before both were ended.
Even the Walt Disney Company incorporated the family of cats with an area of their theme park resorts with a "sequel" coloring book. In the story, Madame Bonfamille and her cats [all of them, including Thomas O' Malley and Scat Cat's band] travel to Port Orleans in America via a cruise ship and encounter a sea serpent named Scales. It tied in with the Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter in Orlando, Florida [Writer's Note: I've stayed in that resort once before and I highly recommend checking it out!], as Scales is a part of a water slide in the pool area of the resort. The limited edition book was illustrated by Peter Emslie, a well-known artist and caricaturist.
The cats encounter Scales, a serpent that likes jazz music, in their "sequel" book.
But was that all the adventure these classy felines were going to have? Apparently not.
THE CANCELLED SEQUEL - "The AristoCats II"
A couple of storyboards of possible scenes from the film, all drawn by Tod Carter, storyboard artist.
Not much is known about this idea, except that it was in production in 2005 and that the focus was going to be on Marie, the middle kitten. According to this site by a couple of the writers on the project, the sequel was planned to be in CGI rather than in traditional animation like the original.
Tod Carter, a story development contributor and storyboard artist that worked with many Disney sequels, including "The AristoCats II", shared some possible plot ideas for the sequel in an interview on Animated Views. The main idea for the young aristocats in this adventure was to add some mystery "by pitting them against a jewel thief on the open seas aboard a luxury cruise ship". With Marie as the focus character, they had an idea of a love interest for her in the form of another cat, and while on the ship, the setting would fully show the turn-of-the-century beauty of different European locations, such as their homeland of France, Spain, England and Scotland. He described the overall feel of the film to be "sort of a Murder On The Orient Express without the murder", with a good mix of comedy and mystery.
There's even a list of the possible cast that had signed on to voice the characters in the film, thanks to Simple English Wikipedia:
- Linda Gray as Duchess
- Tara Strong [voice of Melody in "The Little Mermaid II"; also known for many voice-acting roles] as Marie
- Jonah Bobo as Toulouse
- Shane Baumel as Berlioz
- John Goodman [who voiced "Big Daddy" in "The Princess and the Frog", as well as Baloo in "The Jungle Book 2"] as Thomas O'Malley
- Jim Cummings [the current voice of both Tigger and Winnie-the-Pooh; also known for many other voices] as Roquefort the Mouse and Shun Gon the Siamese Cat
- Darius McCrary as Scat Cat
- Jess Harnell as Hit Cat the English Cat
- Andy Richter as Dennis the Rat/Morter the Frog/Alley Cats [possible new characters? Information about Dennis and Morter is unknown]
This was originally going to be released on DVD in 2007, but it was soon cancelled in 2006 when John Lasseter decided to end production of Disney's unnecessary sequels and focus more on Pixar [which Walt Disney Studios had officially bought the animation studio that year] and Disney's upcoming feature film animation, such as the traditional-animated "The Princess and the Frog", the recent hit, "Tangled" and Pixar's masterpieces of "Wall*E", "Up" and the "Toy Story" and "Cars" sequels. Since the final sequel was completed and released a while ago by the DisneyToon Studios [that film was "The Little Mermaid" Ariel's Beginning"], "The AristoCats II" is not very likely to ever happen in the near future.
THE TV CARTOON - "AristoCats: the Animated Series"
...I know, not many people know about this, do they?
Thought about 2003 or maybe a little bit further back, the idea of using current characters and revamping them for today's audiences was the latest thing. It worked well with "101 Dalmatians", which spawned a successful cartoon series in the late 1990s, nearly 40 years after the original film's release. Even "The Jungle Book" had two TV series that used their characters - "Tale Spin" from the early 1990s and "Jungle Cubs" later in the decade.
So why not try it with "The AristoCats"? Merchandise featuring Marie, the lady-like white kitten, was popular and selling well in Disney Stores and has many fans around the world, so soon the idea of developing a TV series had begun amongst some designers and artists. Glen Hanson, a well-known illustrator, art director and writer, helped design the cast and easily showed off the newfound look that they hoped to reach the Toon Disney audience.
A character sheet of the main characters - [from left to right] Berlioz, Marie, Delancey, Toulouse and ...possibly Roquefort?
Naturally, Marie was slated to be the star of the series, but her brothers, Berlioz and Toulouse would still be main characters. Duchess and O' Malley, however, were to not be present, and would be replaced by a group of called the Street Cats and a hip, dancing cat named Delancey.
Character Sketches of Marie, Berlioz and Toulouse
Delancey, a street cat with a love for dance and a possible love interest for Marie? He does resemble O' Malley a bit, doesn't he?
A character sheet of the "Street Cats", names unknown.
At one point, the planned sequel was going to introduce the teen kittens to the home audience as a way to possibly get people into the TV series if the sequel did well in sales and reviews. However, the Disney studios thought that the idea of aging up the kittens and making them teenagers was going a little too far, especially when a lot of things started to stray too much from the original film, so the idea was soon scrapped. It's unknown whether any animation was made before the scrap, but it's unlikely to see the light of day any time soon.
Pictures and Information: Animated Views [AristoCats II storyboards and Tod Carter interview], Tod Carter [AristoCats II storyboard artist; more "AristoCats II" storyboards on found on the link], Jim Hill Media [source of AristoCats TV series art], Glen Hanson [original artist/character designer - AristoCats TV series], Simple English Wikipedia [AristoCats II cast list], Toonopedia [comic book series info], and D23: The Official Disney Fan Club [AristoCats "sequel" coloring book info and image]
all pictures (c) Disney