Given that Michael Eisner has been a staunch defender of the regime of intellectual property, it is instructive to look at what intellectual property their company has actually produced in its very long history. Let's just take a look at their most major works of all: their feature-length animated films. According to the node: Disney Animated Features, as of early 2002 there have been 40 (about to become 41) full-length animated features created by the Walt Disney Company since 1937. Two more films are to be added in the coming years.

This is my highest rated node at the moment, and I think some clarifications are in order. I'm only counting the animated features produced by the Walt Disney Company's Animated Feature Department, not those jointly produced by Disney and Pixar, nor any films released by Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures or whatever other studios they have. The films that the Walt Disney Company itself considers "official". That makes a lot of the content of NightShadow's wu somewhat disingenuous, as it includes films not produced by the Animated Feature Department (e.g. A Goofy Movie), and even non-animated features that were released by Touchstone (e.g. The Kid, Mighty Ducks, Flubber, etc.). The criteria for considering a Disney animated movie that falls into this category to being "unoriginal" is if it is could qualify as a derived work under copyright law.

Fifteen of the films: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan and Tarzan are all based on or were inspired by history, myth, cultural legend, or stories that have come into the public domain. Seven of the nine movies they released in the 1990's are in this list.

Three of the films: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), Robin Hood, and Oliver and Company (from Oliver Twist) are adaptations of stories similar to those in the previous (usually with the main characters changed into animals). One of the new movies is Treasure Planet, and even they admit that it's nothing more than Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island retold in a science fiction setting. (The Lion King may also arguably be considered to be in this category as well (as a kid-friendly, Hollywood ending, pastiche of Shakespeare's Hamlet), but then again, the similarities are more archetypal than anything; it isn't similar enough to be a derived work.)

Eight of the films: Dumbo, Bambi, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, The Black Cauldron, and The Great Mouse Detective, are all (probably) properly licensed animated adaptations of books, some well known, others less so. The new movie coming up in 2002, Return to Neverland is supposed to be a continuation of Peter Pan and might be lumped among these.

And let's not think about the flap they had over The Lion King and Kimba The White Lion, or how Atlantis: The Lost Empire is said to be suspiciously similar to Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.

That makes a total of 28 films that have acknowledged sources outside of The Walt Disney Company itself, more than half of all the movies they've made to date. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, far from it; the same is even more true of Shakespeare; some of his plays are "merely" great adaptations of already existing stories. The point is: human creativity cannot occur inside a vacuum. The purpose of having a public domain is partly to spur on human creativity by giving people some inspiration for ideas of their own. Eisner and his gang of IPdroids and econodwarfs are planning to rid the world of the public domain by the policy of ending fair use and constantly extending copyright. They don't know it, but in their relentless grab for power they might end up killing the proverbial golden goose. And we'll end up with a boring world where most of the avenues for creative thought have been roadblocked.

So.. that leaves us without a solid answer to the original question: how many Disney movies are actually original stories?

After looking at the node Disney Animated Features I found that the list of Disney animated movies should actually be brought up to 45 (possibly more), not 41. There were some movies that hadn't been created by Disney's Animated Feature Department, but are still considered to be feature-length films or "featurettes."

UPDATE: Okay. Make that 46 animated features. Lilo & Stitch changed things a little. And I'm sure that as time goes on, the number will rise. It's just a question of when, really. But I'll try to update this node with each new original Disney movie as it comes out. If I fail to do so, MSG me and I'll make changes accordingly. Thanks to TenMinJoe for this one.

Of those films, here is a list of Disney originals (in no particular order):

Movies such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and other joint projects with Pixar weren't completely under the aegis of Disney Studios, though Disney not only helped produce those projects, they helped develop them as well.

So. The answer? 26* (or more).

* - If you find that I missed anything, please MSG me with the title(s) so that I can correct my error.

Recently edited on (01/04/06)- thanks to jclast

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