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The success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 made a sequel seem to be a no-brainer. Disney and Amblin Entertainment rushed Roger Rabbit short cartoons into production to seemingly tide audiences over until a feature film could be produced.
The production of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, however, was not a smooth one. The option to make the film had originally been purchased by Walt Disney’s son in law, Ron Miller. When Mr. Miller was replaced by Michael Eisner, Mr. Eisner wanted to put his own stamp on the company and put the option on the shelf. Eager to work with Steven Spielberg, the company let him choose any project he thought viable to co-produce with the company. He chose Roger Rabbit.
While Eisner was not thrilled with the choice, the project moved forward. The first crack in the relationship between Disney and Amblin occurred when Disney cooled to the very idea of the film after the failure of Lucas’ Howard the Duck. Amblin was made to feel as though Disney was just doing Spielberg a favor, producing the film just to impress him. Spielberg also wasn’t happy with the company slapping the Touchstone banner on the film instead of the Disney name.
When the film became a blockbuster hit, Amblin felt that Disney was scrambling to take advantage and that its earlier doubts about the film’s viability had resulted in missed opportunities. Still, the film’s sequel was being planned- Roger Rabbit 2: The Toon Platoon.
The film was supposed to show Roger Rabbit joining the army during World War 2. Tensions between Amblin and Disney had increased, however. Planned attractions that would have taken Disney theme park guests into the world of Roger Rabbit were scrapped or delayed due to budget cutbacks. Rollercoaster Rabbit, which Steven Spielberg wanted to run before another co-production with Disney- Arachnophobia was placed in front of Touchstone’s Dick Tracy. The DISNEYLAND attraction Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin would be the final collaboration between the two companies. Since things have warmed up between Spielberg and Disney in recent years, however, Roger Rabbit could make his way back to the silver screen soon.