Treasure Planet 20 Years Later: Disney Producer Shares His Thoughts On The Studio Revisiting The Underrated Animated Film

Jim Hawkins in Treasure Planet
(Image credit: Walt Disney Animation)

2002’s Treasure Planet is one of the most visually breathtaking and original animated tales ever released and to this day, is the most expensive. With that, it left Disney in the red after it bombed at the box office. (It's also worth mentioning that at the time, the animated adventure had the first Harry Potter sequel, The Chamber of Secrets, as competition during its November release.) Twenty years later, Disney's futuristic tale remains an underdog among Walt Disney Animation’s collection of films. Nevertheless, it has amassed a cult following, and we got a chance to speak to one of the producers about its legacy.

Ahead of Treasure Planet's 20th anniversary on November 27, CinemaBlend asked one of its producers, Roy Conli, for his reflections on the movie and whether it has a future for Walt Disney Animation. Here’s what he told us: 

I think it would be great, I think that at this point in time you could actually remake it into a live-action thing if you wanted to. However, I think that the film itself is something that I am so proud of and visually, I think it's one of the most stunning films that I've ever worked on.

The movie was a beautiful and fresh take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, Treasure Island. It followed Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Jim Hawkins, a young (and reckless) lover of adventure, who stumbles upon a map to the legendary “treasure planet” and embarks on a mission to uncover it alongside some memorable space pirates. 

Considering the scope of Treasure Planet, it could certainly be reimagined as a live-action, as Roy Conli suggested. The animated film was technologically impressive for the medium, as it blended two-dimensional, hand-drawn animation, with 3D graphics and CGI environments. A live-action iteration could not only bring more appreciation to the original film but also add to the storylines established in the movie -- and perhaps even spawn a franchise. 

Jim Hawkins in Treasure Planet, 3d and CGI animation with hand drawn

(Image credit: Walt Disney Animation)

The ‘00s wasn’t the House of Mouse's most fruitful decade but, per our ranked list of the 2000 to 2010 Disney animated films, Treasure Planet finds itself in the top half alongside the likes of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Emperor’s New Groove and Lilo & Stitch. Despite TP’s high quality, it didn't spawn further installments, which is mainly because it earned just $109 million on a budget of $140 million.

Roy Conli’s latest producing effort with Walt Disney Animation is Strange World, which harkens back to the company's 2000s era of adventure stories and sports a Jules Verne-inspired storyline. Conli continued:

I would parallel [Treasure Planet] to [Strange World]. I think visually this film is just incredible. But, I think that for me, I am so excited about the fact that people are rediscovering it. People keep rediscovering that film. I think that this film, as soon as it gets out, I think it's gonna excite people as much, if not more than that one.

Strange World follows a family who finds itself in an undiscovered region of their homeland while on a journey to save it. The movie includes a voice cast of Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid and Gabrielle Union, the latter of which spoke to CinemaBlend about her Disney animated character. We’ll see how Conli’s latest animated adventure performs when it opens in theaters on November 23. 

In regard to Treasure Planet, even though it did not draw massive crowds in November 2002, many Disney fans discovered it on home video and now can additionally give the underperforming Disney movie another shot by streaming it with a Disney+ subscription. Doing such a thing can ensure that its legacy lives on and could even greaten the odds of a live-action remake of sorts.

Happy 20th Anniversary to Treasure Planet! Let’s all give it the love it deserves.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.