The new Disney short film is out Once Upon a Studio, which debuted yesterday, Monday 16 October, exclusively on Disney + (also visible on Sky Glass, Sky Q and via the app on Now Smart Stick). This is the new original work from Walt Disney Animation Studios, with the beloved characters of Walt Disney Animation Studios coming together in an emotional reunion, to create a spectacular group photo on the occasion of Disney’s 100th anniversary.
Featuring 543 characters from over 85 Disney feature films and shorts, Once Upon a Studio welcomes heroes and antagonists, princes and princesses, helpers and sorcerers, all presented in a new style that combines traditional animation and computer graphics to celebrate ten decades of storytelling, talent and also technological successes.
Once Upon a Studio is written and directed by Dan Abraham and Trent Correy and is produced by Yvett Merino and Bradford Simonsen. You can see the trailer below and some photos of the short at the bottom of this article.
The short also features the voice of the late Robin Williams
For the occasion, the unmistakable voice of the late Robin Williams, the American actor who passed away on August 11, 2014, returned.
Williams returns to vocally portray Genie, the Genie he played in the Disney classic Aladdin released in 1992. The short film’s co-writers and co-directors Dan Abraham and Trent Correy said they had obtained permission from Williams’ family to use the character, producer Brad Simonsen told Variety.
“I tried to involve them in our journey to tell them: we’re making this very special short film. Robin as the Genie means a lot to a lot of people, and we’d really like to involve him,” Simonsen said. The producer explained that Abraham “listened to the unused parts of scenes from the original recordings of Aladdin and found those little bits and pieces that we could use.”
The celebratory short film
Once Upon a Studio is a short film lasting 13 minutes and shows Mickey and Minnie walking out of a photo booth at Walt Disney Animation after the employees leave. It’s the company’s 100th birthday. Once all the workers have left, Mickey and Minnie – aided by Tinker Bell, Peter Pan and dozens of other characters from the company’s legendary history – gather to take a group photo.
The scene with Robin Williams’ Genie
Robin Williams’ Genie appears from a sketchbook created by Olaf of Frozen. This is a scene that lasts about three minutes in the short film. The character appears alongside Aladdin, Jafar and Jasmine, right behind other characters from Frozen position yourself there for the group photo. The characters also sing the song When You Wish Upon a Star.
As Tommy McArdle points out on People“the appearance of the Genie in Once Upon a Studio uses existing recordings of Williams’ voice. This comes two weeks after Williams’ daughter Zelda criticized AI replicas of her father’s appearance and voice made without her family’s consent.” However, in this case it is not a voice reconstructed with artificial intelligence but the real voice of the actor.