Is Anastasia Now a Disney Princess?

Have you heard? There's a rumor in St. Petersburg! Disney has bought out Fox for $54.2 billion earlier last week. They mainly did this to obtain ownership of what few Marvel properties they didn't own yet, but as an added side effect, they now own other animated properties including The Simpsons and everyone's favorite Don Bluth princess, Anastasia. Anastasia recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and is still going strong on Broadway. What does this merger mean for the many fans of the franchise? To be honest, probably nothing. However, there are those who are keeping their fingers crossed that this historically inaccurate redhead will be added to Disney's elite group of princesses. Could this dream become a reality once upon a December?


The answer is a bit more complicated than you might think. Being a Disney Princess is not necessarily the same thing as being a Disney character who is a princess or in some cases, a popular heroine. What cannot be disputed is that Anastasia is now an animated princess who is owned by Disney. The Disney Princess brand, on the other hand, represents princesses who were created during specific eras in Disney's history. Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora are part of the "Golden Age" when Walt was alive. Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine are part of the "Disney Renaissance" when Disney made a comeback in the '90s with a ton of high-quality content. Tiana, Merida, and Rapunzel are part of a modern age when CGI started taking over, which is why it was such a big deal when they announced that Tiana's movie would be hand-drawn. If Anastasia fits into any of these categories, it would be the Disney Renaissance. However, her movie was created by a former Disney artist to compete with Disney, not to restore its image. With its detailed animation, lighting, and hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, it did a pretty good job of just that.

Being an official Disney Princess is not the only potential benefit Anastasia may have with her new parent company. Even though Leia didn't get the official version of the welcome ceremony that fans gave her when Disney bought the Star Wars franchise in 2012, she still got more merchandise and movie opportunities than before, including the one that just came out. People see Princess Leia's appearance in The Last Jedi as a final farewell to late actress Carrie Fisher. While Anastasia doesn't need more movies and technically already has a sequel, seeing more of it as a franchise outside of the Broadway play is definitely something that would benefit fans of the 1997 animated classic. Disney's elite princesses get huge merchandise collections including everything limited edition dolls to t-shirts to cosmetics to greeting cards. Even if little Anya doesn't get the royal treatment, being part of Disney's library could mean some new Anastasia merchandise popping up at our favorite shops that have partnerships with Disney including Walmart, Target, and Hot Topic. This would be great for those of us who weren't able to buy everything we wanted during the campaign for the movie when we were children. I'm still kicking myself for choosing a doll of Anastasia in her blue opera dress over a similarly priced box set of both Dimitri and Anastasia in her yellow Grand Duchess gown from the end of the movie.

The biggest backlash that fans have against Anastasia becoming a Disney Princess is the fact that many people already confuse the movie with Disney. Adding her to the lineup would only worsen that confusion. Fans of the film know that it was released by 20th Century Fox and have often wished it could have been a Disney movie for the sake of more merchandise. The casual viewer, on the other hand, often thinks every good animated film is made by Disney and therefore assumes this one was no exception. The fact that it had such a large budget and all-star cast without being produced by Disney is a tribute to the fact that Disney did not always own all of the family entertainment studios in the world. Making Anastasia a Disney Princess so long after the fact would erase a part of history, namely Don Bluth's claim to fame after leaving the company and making animated features on his own. He had many other successful films as well, including All Dogs Go To Heaven and The Land Before Time. His success proves that it was possible at one time for other animators to produce high-quality movies that are equal or even better than Disney. These days, however, Disney is buying out anything that seems remotely competitive, which is how the Fox merger came to be. They are very quickly becoming a monopoly, and I do not think this is a good thing for the world of princesses because it means that no one else has a chance to make their own version princess story without Disney either suing them or buying them out.

Regardless of what Disney does with Anastasia, the merger with Fox is big news for princess fans. It means that one of our favorite Disney movies will now be in the hands of the biggest animated princess superpower in the world. Hopefully, that will mean more merchandise and DVD releases for us, but only time will tell. It is truly a shame that no one will ever have the money or power to compete with Disney anymore like Don Bluth did in the '90s. In the meantime, there's always the Broadway play, which is still safely out of Disney's hands, at least for now.

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