Many of the movies that became favorites over the years were actually total failures at the time of their release. “Total failure” may sound harsh, but when it comes to Titan A.E., the 2000 animated release hit hard. It crashed at the box office, making significantly less than its budget. Critics trashed it. And all around, no one appreciated this little release with an amazing cast of actors. The science-fiction dystopian story was the third and final project for Fox Animation Studios, and the movie was left behind in the dust. Or was it? Over the years, audiences have recalled the movie fondly, many of today’s adults grew up watching the movie on repeat on VHS. And now, Disney has newly come into owning the IP after they acquired Fox. Is Titan A.E. about to see the comeback it deserves?
We’ve now learned from one of our trusted and proven inside sources that Disney is developing a live-action Titan A.E. movie. We were unable to learn whose hands the project is currently in. It would make a lot of sense that a particular creator found this one in the Fox vault when it was acquired by Disney, and they hopefully just know what it is they want to do with this one. The original movie at Fox was handed off between writers, creators, and animaters left and right, which made for a tough creation process on this one. A dedicated creator with a vision might have good reason to want to revive this one.
Still, this is a bold and interesting move on Disney’s part, for many reasons. For one thing, it’s always questionable to reboot something that people loved as kids. Audiences get precious about media they loved as children. They don’t want it touched now, taking away any of the magic from their first go-around. Still, at the box office, this has often been a successful strategy, so studios keep doing it. Moreover, this is a bold move because, as mentioned above, Titan A.E. has a rough history. Can they really make it into something worthy this time around?
Titan A.E. was originally meant to be a live-action film, but they needed something for the brand new Fox Animation Studios to work on. Fox was getting into the Disney animation renaissance at the time a bit late–Disney’s musicals were beginning to see box office declines–and Fox was trying to catch up. When they passed this movie off to the animation studio, they’d already put $30 million into it. American audiences tend to expect animated stories to be family-friendly and comedic. This movie is so far from that.
Titan A.E. is gritty, violent, and a science-fiction adventure story. It probably shouldn’t be watched by young children, but a lot of parents didn’t realize that when they handed over the VHS. While the story leaned into a lot of sci-fi tropes that felt predictable to adult critics, Titan A.E. was the first space adventure a lot of young audiences of the past couple of decades went on. And that makes it special.
Today, a gritty, violent, science-fiction adventure story, set in space, could do very well. A live-action Titan A.E., taking the basics from the dystopian plot, has an easy audience. As a panned box office flop, it may not be the most obvious of IPs to make into a reboot, but framed on the type of stories audiences like today? It may be time for a studio to give this story the kind of attention it was looking for the first time around.