10 Forgotten Animated Disney Movies That Deserve A Second Chance

From 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to 2021’s Encanto, Walt Disney Animation Studios…

10 Forgotten Animated Disney Movies That Deserve A Second Chance

From 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to 2021’s Encanto, Walt Disney Animation Studios has produced a total of 60 films. Many are beloved classics destined to be preserved for decades to come, but some have fallen by the wayside, forgotten by all save for the most diehard Disney fans.

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Slumps in the 90s and 2000s were responsible for important changes in direction for the studio, but they came at the cost of several box office failures that put the company in some serious hot water. Today, however, some of these flops are worthy of reevaluation.


The Black Cauldron (1985)

A still from the 1985 Disney animated film The Black Cauldron.

Perhaps the most notorious animated Disney box office bomb of all time, The Black Cauldron gained infamy when it debuted in 1985 and put the studio in financial jeopardy. However, it has since earned a cult following and is no longer as ill-remembered as it was in decades past.

The tale of a hapless teen embarking on an epic dark fantasy journey to stop the Horned King, it’s a pretty paint-by-numbers affair by today’s standards. Yet, in the 1980s, it felt like a particularly dark outing for Disney, and it deserves a spot in the annals of the studio’s history.

Home on the Range (2004)

The characters from Disney's 2004 film Home on the Range.

When the dairy farm on which she lives is threatened with foreclosure, dairy cows Maggy, Grace, and Miss Calloway embark on an adventure to save the farm. Bright, cheerful, and full of memorable songs, Home on the Range made some waves when it was released in 2004, but critics ultimately found it to be a middling offering that didn’t hold up to Disney’s legendary classics.

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Though it arguably hasn’t gotten any better in the near two decades since it debuted, Home on the Range may have been dragged down by some of Disney’s other post-2000 disappointments and deserves another appraisal.

Chicken Little (2005)

The titular character from Disney's 2005 film Chicken Little.

Chicken Little is, in a way, one of the ugly ducklings of Disney’s filmography. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and The Lion King, Chicken Little seemingly doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Yet, oddly enough, it was one of the studio’s most successful releases of the 2000s, raking in more than 300 million dollars worldwide.

Unfortunately, critics and audiences alike disparaged the film, and it still stands among Disney’s lowest-rating theatrical outings. Still, it’s an improvement relative to many of the less-than-stellar animated offerings of the time, and avid Disney fans may want to give it another shot.

James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Promotional image for the 1996 movie James and the Giant Peach.

A mistreated orphan befriends a group of anthropomorphic insects who inhabit a giant peach, and, in order to escape his malicious caregivers, he and his friends roll the peach into the ocean and embark on a journey to New York City.

Adapted from a 1961 Roald Dahl novel, James and the Giant peach was a collaboration between Walt Disney Feature Animation, Henry Selick, and Tim Burton, and it’s a fantastical adventure that likely captivated the minds and sparked the imaginations of children who saw it during its mid-90s theatrical debut. However, it was completely swallowed up in the wake of later Disney hits like Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan.

The Brave Little Toaster

Cast of characters from the 1987 Disney movie The Brave Little Toaster.

An adaptation of a 1980 novella of the same name, The Brave Little Toaster is certainly one of the least well-remembered Disney efforts of the past four decades. Telling the tale of sentient household appliances questing to find their AWOL owner, The Brave Little Toaster featured a strange premise that may not have been as appealing as Disney’s other offerings.

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The film may have been more successful had it received a larger marketing push, but it ultimately received a limited theatrical release and only gained popularity years later through the advent of home video.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Feature characters from Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Disney fans often consider 2002’s Treasure Planet to be one of Walt Disney Animation Studio’s most criminally underrated efforts, but, while it’s since gained quite a bit of notoriety, Atlantis: The Lost Empire from one year prior remains incredibly obscure.

The story primarily features Smithsonian scholar Milo Thatch embarking on a quest to discover—and eventually defend—the mythical city of Atlantis, and, while it may be a bit much for younger viewers, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a steampunk adventure second only to Treasure Planet which deserves as much recognition as its successor now receives.

Brother Bear (2003)

A still from the Disney animated film Brother Bear.

A 2003 animated film starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Suarez, Brother Bear is a tale of the power of kinship in the face of adversity set in Alaska in the distant past. Emotional and harrowing in parts, the film’s penchant for drama is offset by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, who play a comedic moose duo.

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While the film performed admirably at the box office, it was ultimately overtaken by other major films at the time like Scary Movie 3 and Elf, and it’s not nearly as well-remembered as most of the studio’s other films.

Bolt (2008)

The main characters from the Disney animated film Bolt.

Bolt is a canine television star who has been raised to believe that he actually has all of the powers he’s shown using on the show. However, when his series ends on a cliffhanger, he embarks on a quest to rescue his apparently-captured owner.

While the film was reviewed well and performed adequately at the box office, Bolt didn’t make the same sort of mark on the public consciousness as other Disney animated films. Plus, with more impactful movies such as Brave and Frozen premiering years later, Bolt was mostly left by the wayside.

Oliver & Company (1988)

The cast of characters from Disney's Oliver and Company.

Intended as a loose adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens tale Oliver Twist, Oliver & Company is a 1988 animated film that sees a scruffy cat named Oliver fall in with a band of dogs to survive the mean streets of New York City. Released not long after the notoriously underwhelming The Black Cauldron, Oliver & Company was a success at the box office, though it, much like the studio’s 1985 film, failed to interest critics.

Oliver & Company may be best known for opening on the same weekend as Don Bluth’s The Land Before Time, ultimately outearning it despite coming in second at the box office during its opening weekend.

Dinosaur (2000)

A still from the 2000 Disney animated movie Dinosaur.

In 2000, CGI seemed to be the next big thing in cinema, and, following the success of Pixar’s Toy Story five years prior, Walt Disney Animation Studios looked to strike gold with Dinosaur.

While the film was heartfelt and inventive, it wasn’t received particularly well by audiences and critics. Also, despite an acceptable box office performance, the film was sunk by its sky-high marketing expenses. Today, while not an amazing film, it’s an interesting entry in Disney’s storied pantheon, and it’s a must-watch for Disney fans and turn-of-the-millennium film buffs alike.

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