Five curiosities to explore when Disney+ launches in November
Nov. 12 will bring the launch of Disney+, the streaming platform that CEO Bob Iger has called the conglomerate's "highest priority." The service that hopes to put a dent in Netflix will become the online home for Disney's animated classics, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pixar, "Star Wars" and everything else under Mary Poppins' umbrella.
On Monday, the Disney+ Twitter account used hundreds of posts to list every title that will be available at launch. Here are five curiosities you should check out once you're done revisiting "Return of the Jedi," "Tangled" and "Guardians of the Galaxy":
'The Reluctant Dragon' (1941)
Part live-action, part animated, this 74-minute feature allowed Walt Disney to show how his animated films are made in an early mockumentary of sorts. Writer Robert Benchley, playing himself, is taken on a tour of the Walt Disney Studios to convince him to sell the film rights to the title story. The film ends with the animated product itself. A charming peek behind the curtain of the company's early days.
'The Black Hole' (1979)
Disney's response to the original "Star Wars" was this ponderous, abstract adventure with a quasi-religious ending. Come for the groundbreaking visual effects, stay for the performance by the recently departed Robert Forster.
Dorothy Gale (Fairuza Balk) befriends the mechanical soldier Tik-Tok in "Return to Oz," Disney's creepy 1985 sequel to "The Wizard of Oz."
- Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
'Return to Oz' (1985)
Fairuza Balk, who became a cult icon in the '90s thanks to the witchy romp "The Craft," made her screen debut as Dorothy Gale in this scary, subversive film based on two L. Frank Baum books that came after "The Wizard of Oz." There's a stout clockwork man, severed heads and a sentient couch called The Gump. Yes, this one is weird -- and, yes, I watched it when I was 6, 7 years old, and I still turned out OK. (Right?)
A compendium of wordless animated shorts set to classical music, the original "Fantasia" introduced stereo sound to the world and represented an artistic risk for Uncle Walt. The lesser-known sequel reprises the original's iconic "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment and adds whimsy and hopefulness. Donald Duck helps herd animals onto Noah's Ark to Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" in the film's funniest segment, and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" scores an impressionistic slice of New York life in its best.
After "Trainspotting" and before "Slumdog Millionaire," director Danny Boyle made this kid-friendly adaptation of a Frank Cottrell Boyce novel that came to Disney in the 20th Century Fox deal. The story: A young English boy finds a bag of money, but he doesn't do what you might expect a kid to do with it.
• Follow Sean on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.