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American Dog or London Adventure?


Jim Hill blogged today about how Disney is revamping story of American Dog, now that Chris Sanders has been let go. Hill reports that:

“He’s no longer a cute little round brown hound dog. But — rather — a heroic-looking white German Shepherd with a lightning bolt-shaped patch that runs down the left side of his body. In fact, Bolt is actually this character’s new name. And Bolt stars with Penny (a 12-year-old girl) in the hit television show, “American Dog.”

After getting accidentally shipped to New York, Bolt is befriended by a hamster (named “Rhino”) who “is a huge fan of “American Dog,” having seen & then memorized virtually every episode of the series.”

For all the negative talk about direct-to-video sequels, some of these changes bring to mind plot elements and characters in 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure (written by Jim Kammerud and Brian Smith). Co-producer Leslie Hough writes us:

Our film “Dalmatians II” features a German Shepherd deluded by his own stardom named Thunderbolt. In our version Patch, the puppy, is Thunderbolt’s biggest fan and has memorized all the episodes of his show. When I first heard about American Dog, I thought the story was similar, but now it is too close for comfort.

Is it possible that the people at Disney Features have never seen 101 Dalmatians 2? Or have they and thought it was so good that they would use the same story in a bigger budget arena? Or do they just not care? Leslie Hough says, “Disney is welcome to rip itself off, but we, the filmmakers of the first film are kind of shocked.”

  • tom

    I liked the look of this film as it has developed, but I’ve never liked the title or any of the story lines I’ve read including this one. I wish them luck, but I already think this one’s taken on too much water to save.

    I’m really bothered by DFA losing Chris Sanders. Lilo & Stitch is one of the few original hits they’ve had there in a long while, and has given the Disney stable of characters one of the most colorful new characters of the last 25 years. Stitch gets better with age, whereas Tarzan, Hunchback, Pocahontas and Mulan-type films are all almost instantly forgettable.

  • Steve Wojcik

    Jesus, Disney get your heads out of your behinds. Nothing really suprises me anymore with this company. Actually it’s to the point that if something “good” or “creative” actually did come out of the studio, I would be suprised (this coming from a very big Disney fan!). I was really cheering for this lil’ project of Sanders and thought that perhaps the changes being made without him were for the better (so we were hoping), but now it’s just back to feeling lousy about a property before it even comes out. I really haven’t been excited about a Disney animated feature in years. To make things even more frustrating for myself, I just finished reading Bob Thomas’s Walt Disney biography for the second time and I’m sure Walt’s just turning over in his grave/carbon freezing chamber as we speak.

  • Graham

    Are there any pics out there of Chris Sanders’ original designs for American Dog?

  • DanO

    Wait – i’m reading the “Toon-ing In” blog aren’t I?
    I’m not?!?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I’m still sad at hearing of Sanders leaving DFA as well. Not sure what the outcome of said project would be, but it’s funny if it’s permutated to where it is now.

  • uffler mustek

    how can anyone possibly be shocked anymore?

  • Lionel Michaux

    I have no doubt that the people who actually make the so-called Disney “cheapquels� do as best as they can given the circumstances, i.e. low budget and corporate greed and cynicism. Still, I am a bit surprised when I read Leslie Hough’s comment that “Disney is welcome to rip itself off, but we, the filmmakers of the first film are kind of shocked�. Nothing personal in that, since I’ve never heard of Leslie Hough before (living far away from the US, and never having met anybody working in animation) and she may be a great person. But as long as first films are concerned, it seems to me that “Dalmatians II� was also a poor movie raping an earlier, much, much better creation, if I did follow events correctly (yes, it could have been much worse, Disneytoons have proven they can do it, but nonetheless, that doesn’t make it a good movie in any area). It may be a good thing so many people from the golden age have passed away, as they can’t see what’s being done to the characters and, more generally, the art form they created.

  • Andre

    I do hope that JimHillMedia’s info isn’t quite right, as it would be odd having a feature film so similar to a Dalmatian’s sequel. It’s a shame Disney let go of Sanders, as Lilo and Stitch was quite excellent, and the images of the characters of American Dog seen online were quite cute. Quirky, but very approachable and cute, and I think they should of just ventured on with them, and maybe tinkered with the story a little bit. If they do plan on going with this plot, and getting it out in 2008, it’ll be finishing an all-new Disney theatrical film in the span of a year. Not a DTV [which usually take two], but a full, theatrical-quality film, which’d normally take FOUR 0_o

    At least the Enchanted Merchandise shown at Toy Fair looks promising.

  • I’m going to miss that cat with the eye patch, and the radioactive bunny. At least it’s not set in Route 66 anymore, they have good reason not to set it there (Cars), but how many movies have been set in New York, even just cutting it down to animated movies from the last few years?

    A real mistake for Disney to let Sanders go, in my opinion, as he was one of their big talents, and Lilo & Stitch one of their much better films of the last decade.

  • I can only hope that this is an elaborate hoax designed to throw us off the scent of the really fantastic story that is being developed by the secret elves at the studio. Of course if the past is any indication I am dreaming yet again. Let’s hope that it can fly.
    Never say never….land

  • This is going to save Disney? A dog with a lightning bolt on its body! Can anyone make films anymore? It all sounds like the bad fodder on television. It’s all so small.

  • it’s amazing to watch a once great
    company destroy itself. and sad…

  • Typical.

  • All one can say is, “Uh oh.”

  • Was this all a John Lassester decision? I thought him becoming in charge of DFA was suppose to end bs like this.

  • Scott C.

    I never thought I’d see the day a great website like Cartoon Brew reference the gutter munching fanboy jim hill. His “information” is beyond yellow rag, and more often than not incorrect or blown WAY out of proportion.

    It’s all hearsay–and poorly written at that. Why anyone would give him credence or even refer to him or his tripe is beyond me.

  • Michael

    Well said Scott C.! What the Brew should be asking: “Is it possible that Jim Hill is an idiot who has no conception of how business is actually done in studios and whose supposed “insiders” have time and again provided him with spurious and idiotic “scoops” that have turned out to have no basis in fact? That if Hill can spin so it supports his absurd notion that the Pixar acquisition was the worst thing ever to happen to Disney, he will trumpet to the stars and beyond?”

    It’s beyond pathetic, Hill’s notion that he’s somehow “connected” to the industry and offering insights when it’s more than apparent he doesn’t know the first thing about animation or filmmaking. Why a tarted-up troll like him gets the kind of hits he does is quite beyond me.

  • I’m really disappointed, but I’m not all that surprised. I know that there are plenty of people who didn’t appreciate Sander’s quirkiness, but I was really looking forward to this film based off the initial character designs and even the original plot. Sure it had a lot in common with Cars, but I don’t mind. It was a different story with different (and more appealing) characters.

  • Hmmm, like scott said, the story seems fishy to me. If it IS true then it would be a ridiculous move for sure… are original ideas really that hard to come by?

  • Wow.
    That went from mediocre to worse.

    I hope it’s inaccurate like the above posters presume it is.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Having read Andre’s comment, seeing Disney produce this film in a less than 2 years would be a miracle if they pulled it off. Of course I had to think of how much shorter some Japanese animated films could be done for in the past (think it took Miyazaki 8 months or so to finish “Castle of Cagliostro”), of course those guys don’t have to put up with the usual corporate last-minute re-writes and other BS.

  • tom

    It’s not like Jim Hill Media has never been wrong before. They also have an odd anti-Lasseter editorial slant that could have skewed this story a lot.

  • BJ Wanlund

    I always took JHM with a grain of salt and I would like it if you wouldn’t stoop so low as to quote a Disney rumour site again…ever.

  • I liked what I saw in the original conceptual art, too bad.
    The same thing happened to Chicken Little, didn’t it? I remember that the original storyline had the animals battling wolves or something like that…

  • I hate Disney… I’m no longer standing up for them. REGARDLESS of their past. How hard is it to realize you’re f—g up? Saunders was the best thing to happen to Disney outside of Pixar.

    Now its over. I hope they die a slow agonizing death and everyone involved has to file chapter 11. Idiots.

  • Daniel

    are they serious!?! The concept work they had was BEAUTIFUL to say the least… Not to mention Chris Sanders is fairly brilliant from what I can see of his track record. Hearing that everything I saw of the film so far (having toured and seeing some of the work first-hand) will be scrapped and turned into a plot SO generic sounding that it’s identical to a movie Disney itself has already made makes me absolutely sick to my stomache!

    I seriously hope this is NOT the case. If so, it seems that bringing Lasseter/Pixar into the creative fold was an empty gesture, and like many suspected, was engineered merely to prevent Pixar from becoming a threat to Disney’s stranglehold on animation. Bringing the “magic” back to Disney with a handful of glitter being thrown into people’s eyes it seems…

  • The Lurking Fear

    I’m told it’s all true.

    This ‘bolt of lightning down the side’ of a character is left over from the original version of HOME ON THE RANGE. Everything else seems to be an amalgam of 101 DALMATIANS II, TOY STORY (Buzz Lightyear was also deluded about his ‘powers’) and any number of TV cartoons.

    The original AMERICAN DOG may have needed story work (perhaps) but it looked pretty and interesting. This does not.

    The Disney Renaissance will be a very short one unless they get some new blood in the story department and quit recycling old characters and ideas.

  • Joe Strike

    I had the pleasure/pain of watching a stack of the Disney cheapquels for an awn.com article a while back & I thought 101 pt2 was the best of the bunch, which might not be saying a whole lot. Still for the most part it avoided the ‘shuffling the deck’ of plot points the cheapquels usually depend on. Making Thunderbolt – only seen on TV in the first film – a main character had a lot to do with that, along with giving Cruella a boyfriend, which was a sheer stroke of genius.

    Talking about Disney borrowing from itself, has anyone seen Fox & Hound II? Judging from the box art it looks like they’ve imported a few of the dogs from Oliver & Company.

  • This sounds so outrageously lame/bad/derivative that I can’t help but think somebody’s getting played for the fool here. JH does have a pretty spotty track record and it has been known that he has been given bad info as a joke before.

  • Mark Lungo

    Both “American Dog” and “101 Dalmatians II” sound a lot like the “Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers” episode “Flash the Wonder Dog.” Could this plot be making its third appearance at Disney?

    P.S. It’s a little off-topic, but Disney TV definitely ripped itself off at least once. The “Duck Tales” episode “Allowance Day” and the “Tale Spin” episode “The Time Bandit” have identical plots, and were written by the same writers.

  • Gemini

    This story has been done before, a long long time ago. I cannot remember the name, but I know they showed it on Cartoon Network in the late 90’s. Regardless, I am looking forward to Rapunzel. The animation looks amazing and the storyline has been kept. We will finally be seeing a return to classic disney fairytales. Stitch was a joke and the sequels have been horrible. Finally, a classic fairytale is being told and I am sure this one will do Disney proud.

  • I thought I was the only one that noticed the odd similarity between Bolt and Thunderbolt. First off, their names are incredibly similar, both play heroic lead roles in a popular tv show, they’re outside of their normal environment (the set) and have an issue being a hero out in the real world, both are shepherds, both have signature barks, and both have a pipsqueak of an adoring fan that wants to be a hero too.

    The original American Dog probably would have been a hit no doubt, but despite Disney almost screwing themselves over by reusing themes and ideas I really do think Bolt will be an amazing movie and I can’t wait for it to come out. Hopefully there will be more new ideas and themes to make this film unique.