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The Sailor Moon Movie That Disney Never Made

Disney is a behemoth now, playing to the law of averages by releasing just about every popular property while mining their own successful back catalog for reboots. Their position in the world, however, wasn't always so solid. The movie studio came back from a long decline with a series of hit films in the late '80s and '90s, a period known in hindsight as the "Disney Renaissance." Riding high off of successes like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, the company gave a peek at what it would become, getting its gobble on and swallowing up ABC, grabbing the subsidiary DiC in the process.

Fans who can hear that animation company's production card in their head know that DiC had a deep well of successful properties, and Disney wanted to turn their newfound riches into films. While a time when live-action adaptations of anime being common was decades away, Disney was eyeballing a flesh-and-blood take on Sailor Moon.

DiC had localized the beloved cartoon for the United States, and the first two seasons of Sailor Moon were now under the sway of CEO Michael Eisner. Luckily for purist fans of the Sailor Soldiers, the House of Mouse never got the chance to turn Usagi Tsukino into Disney Princess Serenity.

Rumors abound about the Sailor Moon movie

Very little coverage was given to the Sailor Moon movie in the industry trades, indicating it never really got off the ground. In a story about the live-action remake of Mr. Magoo from 1997, Variety shared that director Stanley Tong was attached to lead the Americanized reboot.

This is a bit of a mixed bag. Tong is responsible for some of the greatest martial arts movies ever made, and was a favorite of Jackie Chan during his golden era. He was behind the camera for Rumble In The Bronx and several of the Police Story movies. That's an incredible pedigree for what was sure to be a stunt-heavy movie.

His work on Disney adaptations for American audiences, though, leaves quite a bit to be desired. He did direct the aforementioned Mr. Magoo movie, an outright disaster that wasted Leslie Nielsen's talents and didn't expand beyond the source cartoons.

Early gossip blogs also connected Geena Davis with the movie, with Movie City News saying that the Thelma & Louise star was in talks to play Queen Beryl, tipping Disney's hand over what storyline was being considered. The same blog floated a few other actresses to fill out the Sailor Soldiers, including Wynona Ryder and Elizabeth Shue.

The Sailor Moon movie ultimately fell apart when DiC left

DiC parted ways with Disney before a Sailor Moon movie could be made. Given what became of the properties that Disney was able to turn into live-action adaptations at this time in its history, it seems like Sailor Moon fans dodged a bullet. Before DiC dipped, Disney made the Matthew Broderick-led version of Inspector Gadget and the largely forgotten Meet the Deedles. It's unlikely that Sailor Moon fans would like to see it spoken of in the same breath as late '90s Disney efforts like Jungle 2 Jungle and That Darn Cat.

What's more, '90s Disney wouldn't be the only force allied against a Sailor Moon movie being worthwhile. DiC, itself, famously edited the series to remove any queer characters, and that would likely hold true in any Disney adaptation.

There's also the matter of care. Mr. Magoo and Inspector Gadget were clearly thought of as money-makers first, and stories second. There's nothing to indicate that a rebooted Sailor Moon would be viewed any differently. It might be hard to remember now, with Disney putting hundreds of millions of dollars into superhero movies and Star Wars films, but superhero adaptions that weren't about Batman were all low-rent affairs before X-Men and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies served as a test balloon for what could be done with careful takes on beloved supes.

While a Sailor Moon adaptation could work in the here and now, and an eventual live-action television series did air in Japan. It's seems like it's for the best that this Disney project didn't get past the planning stage.