The Best Kids Movie Is Missing From Disney+ For An Incredibly Stupid Reason

By Robert Scucci | Published

If you’re like me, you have a soft spot for The Brave Little Toaster, but can’t find it on streaming anywhere. While Disney+ offers the 1987 film’s two sequels, The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue and the equally horrible The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars, you’ll never see the OG title on the streaming giant for one incredibly stupid reason. Though The Brave Little Toaster was financed by Disney as an independent production, the title is technically owned by Hyperion Pictures and not actively distributed digitally (or physically) anywhere. 

Off To A Rough Start

The Brave Little Toaster 1987

Part of the reason that The Brave Little Toaster is being lost to time is because it was so ahead of its time. When animators John Lasseter and Glen Keane originally pitched their concept of a CGI animated cartoon movie to Disney executives Ed Hansen (animation administrator) and Ron W. Miller (Disney’s president at the time), the project wasn’t green-lit because they saw no need to adopt a new animation style if it wasn’t faster or cheaper. Almost immediately after The Brave Little Toaster was rejected, Lasseter was let go from his position at Disney, and the movie was nearly shelved.

Became A Low-Budget Venture Instead

The Brave Little Toaster 1987

The Brave Little Toaster’s production found a new home at Hyperion Pictures, which was founded by Tom Wilhite and Willard Carroll, who used to work for Disney. They secured the rights to the movie, and Disney even financed the project, but gave Hyperion a much smaller budget to work with. Originally having a production budget of a little over $12 million, the now-independent production only had just shy of $6 million to work with.

The important takeaway from this exchange is that while Disney provided the funds to move The Brave Little Toaster forward, they were not involved with its production, and technically don’t own the intellectual property because they decided to take this route.

A Distribution Nightmare

The Brave Little Toaster 1987

Further shooting themselves in the foot, Disney didn’t want a competing independent intellectual property getting a wide theatrical release. According to writer-director Jerry Rees, Disney pushed the television premiere date of the movie up on their schedule, which had a direct effect on any financial success at the box office The Brave Little Toaster would have seen. Though Skouras Pictures originally intended to distribute the film for evening showings geared toward a young adult and college-aged crowd, they withdrew from their deal because it was no longer a financially viable option for releasing the title.

Discarded And Difficult To Find

The Brave Little Toaster 1987

Thanks to all of the above mentioned obstacles, The Brave Little Toaster never had a chance to be the massive success that it was supposed to be. However, the writing’s on the wall, as the one title in the entire franchise that was actually well-received by critics and audiences alike is nowhere to be found on streaming even though it’d probably pull great viewing numbers. While its sequels are readily available on Disney+, the movie that started the franchise is nowhere to be found because two Disney executives didn’t want to spend the money on an animation method that would prove to be successful in the 90s when Pixar got the green-light for Toy Story.

Not Deserving Of Its Fate

The Brave Little Toaster 1987

While The Brave Little Toaster is considered by many to be a proto-Pixar film, its production, release, and distribution was met with such resistance that it’s incredibly hard to watch these days. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find a VHS or DVD copy at a thrift store, but it’s not likely you’ll see it on streaming any time soon.