Over the years, June 21 has been a popular date for Disney-related movie releases and premieres.
-The live-action Disney feature The Parent Trap was released on this date in 1961. Hayley Mills (in her 2nd of what would be 6 Disney films) starred as identical teenage twins Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers who are reunited after being separated from their divorced parents (played by Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara). Nominated for two Academy Awards, the popularity of the film led to multiple television sequels and even a re-make in 1998.
-Walt Disney Pictures released the live-action adventure Return to Oz on this day in 1985. A semi-sequel to the classic motion picture The Wizard of Oz, the plot was a combination of writer L. Frank Baum's Ozma of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. Dorothy was portrayed by actress Fairuza Balk (who was nominated for a Saturn Award for her role). Although it received mix reviews from critics, the film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.
-In 1988 the Touchstone/Amblin Entertainment film Who Framed Roger Rabbit premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. A comedy-mystery-fantasy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and produced by Steven Spielberg, it combined live-action with traditional animation. About a world where cartoon characters interact with humans, it starred Bob Hoskins as a detective named Eddie Valiant who investigates a murder involving a famous toon named Roger Rabbit (voiced by comedian Charles Fleischer). It was the first time that animated characters from various studios appeared in the same feature film. (Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released the following day, June 22.) After its success, Disney and Amblin attempted to resurrect Roger for a sequel ... but a preliminary budget was deemed too large.
-The Rocketeer premiered on this day in 1991 at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Based on the comic book created by Dave Stevens, the live-action adventure film starred Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connolly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Daly, and Paul Sorvino. The story centered around a young pilot who finds a prototype jetpack that allows him to become a flying masked hero. Although nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the film did not do well at the box office and plans for a sequel were halted.
-Disney's 34th animated feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame was generally released to theaters on this day in 1996. Loosley based on Victor Hugo's classic story, Disney's musical version featured the voices of Tom Hulce (as Quasimodo), Demi Moore (as Esmerelda) and Tony Jay (as Judge Claude Frollo). The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the second Disney film directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (the same team who had brought to life Beauty and the Beast). The film's soundtrack included a musical score by Alan Menken and songs written by Menken and Stephen Schwartz. In its opening weekend, the film opened in second place at the box office grossing $21 million. (In 2002 a direct-to-video sequel was released.)
-In 2002 Disney released Lilo & Stitch, the 42nd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics. It was the second of three features primarily produced at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida (at the time located in what today is Disney's Hollywood Studios). In this comedy, a Hawaiian girl named Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) adopts an unusual pet named Stitch (voiced by Chris Sanders) who is really an notorious extra-terrestrial fugitive. Lilo & Stitch received positive reviews and led to a direct-to-video sequel and a TV series.
-On this day in 2008, the Disney/Pixar feature WALL-E premiered at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. A computer animated science fiction film, it was directed by Andrew Stanton. The story follows a robot named WALL-E who is designed to clean-up waste-covered Earth. WALL-E was the most complex Pixar production since Monsters, Inc. - due to the film's unique look. The film, which was generally released June 27, met with critical acclaim.
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