The Color Of Money (1985)
Disney Connection: This sequel to pool shark classic The Hustler was directed by Martin Scorsese for Touchstone Pictures, the new live-action arm of Disney launched in 1984.
Disney Influence?: Twenty-five years after he was ruined by the tables, Paul Newman’s sparkly-eyed old-timer Fast Eddie finally gets his happy ending. “I’m back!”
If It Was A Cartoon: Tom Cruise’s cocky kid Vincent would learn a hearty life lesson about honesty, the wisdom of his elders, and not laying odds on himself to throw games.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Disney Connection: Quentin Tarantino’s searing postmodern masterpiece was the first film given the greenlight by Miramax chairman Harvey Weinstein after the company was bought by Disney in 1993.
Disney Influence?: The film’s structure gives a nod to the famous ‘no-one ever really dies’ maxim of Disney movies, with John Travolta’s dead hitman Vincent Vega brought back to life via the magic of flashback narration.
If It Was A Cartoon: Jules’ wallet would have a nice picture of Mickey Mouse on it instead of ‘Bad Motherfucker’ and instead of getting medieval on anyone’s ass Marsellus Wallace would take them on the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride at Disney World.
Disney Connection: Wes Craven’s era-defining metatextual takedown of the horror genre was funded and released by Dimension Films, the exploitation side-arm of the Weinstein brothers’ Miramax which Disney bought along with the main company in 1993.
Disney Influence?: Is there a link to be made between Disney’s princess fairytales and the slasher genre’s stock endangered heroine routine? Probably, though there is definitely less stabbing and garage-door murder in Sleeping Beauty.
If It Was A Cartoon: Neve Campbell would have a big pink frock and an anthropomorphic dog which can sort of talk, and at the end her beaming parents would both be alive and ushering her into their castle for a banquet.
Dead Poet's Society (1989)
Disney Connection: This forceful coming of age drama from Australian director Peter Weir was made for Disney’s Touchstone Pictures.
Disney Influence?: The story is a little on the suicidally tragic side for any real influence to shine through, though Robin Williams - Oscar-nommed for his performance here - would appear in mainline Disney cartoon Aladdin three years later.
If It Was A Cartoon: Given the link, we’d have the prep school boys taught by Williams’ blustering, thousand-words-a-minute Genie, with poor sad dead Neil brought back to life by the power of wishes.
Quiz Show (1994)
Disney Connection: In 1989 Disney chairman Michael Eisner launched Hollywood Pictures to bring more live action productions to Disney. Its poor record - starting with Arachnophobia and including the likes of California Man and Super Mario Bros - coined the phrase ‘If it’s the Sphinx, it stinks’, referring to the Egyptian-themed logo. But Robert Redford’s broadcasting drama bucked the trend.
Disney Influence?: More fairytales - many of the details of the quiz show fixing scandal which the film features were shifted and tweaked to make them more dramatic. “Otherwise you might as well have a documentary,” argues Redford. Well...
If It Was A Cartoon: John Turturro’s nervous rabbit character would become best friends with Ralph Fiennes’ tittering, modest lion and the pair would stroll into the sunset and away from network television producers forever at the end.
Disney Connection: Wes Anderson’s knowing indie high school comedy was made for Touchstone after a deal with more likely home New Line Cinema fell apart over budget concerns.
Disney Influence?: Rushmore is a sardonic undermining of the bright perfection painted by Disney’s cartoon output. Still - it has one dazzling happy ending.
If It Was A Cartoon: Jason Schwartzman’s Max Fischer would definitely, definitely, definitely be a tiny chipmunk, and Bill Murray’s Mr Blume would be a sad scruffy bear.
Turner & Hooch (1989)
Disney Connection: This cop-and-canine buddy comedy was released by Disney’s live-action outfit Touchstone Pictures in 1989.
Disney Influence?: It’s a very sentimental affair, with Tom Hanks’ initially grumpy dog-cynic detective gradually falling for the slobbery charms of his star witness, Hooch.
If It Was A Cartoon: Then Hooch wouldn’t die at the end and a generation of ‘80s children wouldn’t tear up at the mention of his name. Interesting there was a Turner & Hooch television series planned for Disney TV, but it never got past the pilot stage.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Disney Connection: Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s half crime flick, half tit-heavy vampire armageddon was made for Dimension films after both directors had previously worked for Miramax.
Disney Influence?: Between Tarantino’s sexual deviant murderer/rapist and the fact the only nice guy in the movie - Harvey Keitel’s wobbly-faithed preacher - gets turned into a Godless bloodsucker, it’s really, really hard to see where.
If It Was A Cartoon: The film would last around two and half minutes, and would involve Harvey Keitel taking his children to a park and having a nice ice cream.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Disney Connection: The Miramax mega-hit which earned the Mouse House over $200 million and launched the careers of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck so high they still haven’t come down. Even after Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back.
D isney Influence?: By the late ‘90s Miramax had moved into more middle-ground territory, and was making the sort of Oscar-bating quality dramas that fit more snugly with the Disney brand. Damon and Affleck’s script is essentially a Cinderella story with maths and lots of casual ‘fuck’s thrown in.
If It Was A Cartoon: Instead of a poignantly absent off-screen departure, Will Hunting’s leaving scene would be a balls-out musical number with frat boys and townies joining hands around Matt and Ben as everyone hit the high notes and reached for the sky.
Disney Connection: Like Pulp Fiction, Clerks was a defining film for post-Disney buyout Miramax. Kevin Smith’s ultra-indie 16mm debut was an affirmation of the company’s commitment to niche cinema.
Disney Influence?: “I need one each of the following tapes: ‘Whispers in the Wind’, ‘To Each His Own’, ‘Put It Where It Doesn't Belong’, ‘My Pipes Need Cleaning’, ‘All Tit-Fucking Volume 8’, ‘I Need Your Cock’, ‘Ass-Worshipping Rim-Jobbers’, ‘My Cunt and Eight Shafts’, ‘Cum Clean’, ‘Cum-Gargling Naked Sluts’, ‘Cum Buns III’, ‘Cumming in Socks’, ‘Cum On Eileen’, ‘Huge Black Cocks with Pearly White Cum’, ‘Girls Who Crave Cock’, ‘Girls Who Crave Cunt’, ‘Men Alone II: The KY Connection’, ‘Pink Pussy Lips’, oh, yeah, and, uh, ‘All Holes Filled with Hard Cock’”
If It Was A Cartoon: It was a cartoon. Just not a very good one .
The Insider (1999)
Disney Connection: This heavyweight Michael Mann exposé on the tobacco industry starring Russell Crowe and Al Pacino was a $90 million production for Touchstone Pictures.
Disney Influence?: There’s a fairytale element to some of the film’s events - Michael Mann has admitted that scenes of Crowe’s star witness Jeffrey Wigand being chased on a golf course, among other things, were fictional dramatisations.
If It Was A Cartoon: All references to smoking would be removed and replaced with another vice, like an addiction to cookies or hugs.
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Disney Connection: The dark John Cusack-led hitman high school reunion satire became the second good film released by Hollywood Pictures, ever, when it was released in 1997.
Disney Influence?: Amid the professional killer hero, a brutal bare-hands killing against the school lockers and a happy ending that has smirking Cusack get away with it all and score the girl, we’re saying no.
If It Was A Cartoon: Given the real-life shape of Minnie Driver’s head, it’s frightening to think what an exagerrated cartoon version would look like. Needless to say, Martin Blank would be a chirpy working class chump rather than a killer for hire.
Scary Movie (2000)
Disney Connection: This Scream-shredding slasher spoof was in fact produced by Dimension Films itself - the studio parodying its own self-aware horror trilogy, pop culture eating itself. In a sad reflection on everything, ever, it made more money that Scream.
Disney Influence?: Aside from the fact the average Disney straight-to-DVD sequel has better acting and more believable characters, no.
If It Was A Cartoon: It would be pretty hard to tell the difference.
The Lookout (2007)
Disney Connection: Post-Weinsteins Miramax (the brothers had a long-running dispute with Disney boss Michael Eisner which saw them leave their own company) the distributor went back to its early days objective - smart, low budget quality dramas, which included Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s amnesiac noir The Lookout.
Disney Influence?: The film does have a happy-ever-after close, and Isla Fisher would make an excellent big-eyed princess.
If It Was A Cartoon: Matthew Goode and his pack of ne’er do well mates would be cartoon jackals, puffing on cigars in ‘30s gangster costumes and trying to persuade Gordon-Levitt’s forgetful labrador to let them inro his kennel.
The Prophecy (1995)
Disney Connection: This blasphemously kick-ass Christopher Walken showcase has the raging thesp as a super-angry archangel Gabriel waging war on humankind, and was released along with four sequels by Dimension.
Disney Influence?: Not really. In fact, it’s the kind of touchpaper controversy that can sometimes cause a problem for Disney studios - just four years later, in 1999, Miramax was forced to sell Kevin Smith’s religious satire Dogma to Lionsgate after sustained Catholic lobbying proved embarassing to the family-friendly parent company.
If It Was A Cartoon: All mention of God, the war in heaven and Gabriel would have to be removed. Instead you’d have Christopher Walken voicing a really angry guy called Gabe who can fly, for some reason.
Ed Wood (1994)
Disney Connection: Tim Burton - famously once an artist at Disney in the 1980s before his directing career - returns to Mickey’s Empire with this black and white biopic of trash legend Ed Wood.
Disney Influence?: Despite on the surface being a total misfit for the Disney image - the movie shows tranvestitism, drug abuse and terrible, terrible filmmaking - it’s told with a tenderness and emotional punch that most Disney flicks would kill for.
If It Was A Cartoon: Actually, Johnny Depp’s Wood is a relentlessly enthusiastic optimism working through a storm of setbacks and weirdness. Ditch the cross-dressing and that might just work.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
Disney Connection: The Oscar-snaring cowboy epic was a huge return to form for both the producer-director team of the Coen brothers, and for Miramax, who co-financed the film with Paramount.
Disney Influence?: Absolutely none whatsoever. The Coens are at their most wry and philosophical, and the film is full of fateful indifference and the chaos of existence.
If It Was A Cartoon: Javier Bardem’s character would look like one of the Indians from Peter Pan. Same hair. Though it’s difficult to see what they’d do with, uh, everything else in the movie.
Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Disney Connection: Dimension picked up Clive Barker’s ‘tear me a new one’ sadist nasty from fellow horror indie New World Pictures after the second instalment. This was the first sequel released under Disney ownership.
Disney Influence?: Not so much a Disney influence as a trash-horror American one. After the ghastly CD and camcorder cenobites in Hellraiser III, this time the series goes into space, and explodes into awfulness.
If It Was A Cartoon: Pinhead would make an excellent cartoon villain, though even the hacks who ran Disney’s animation studios in the late ‘90s would have balked at the ‘black magic in orbit’ plot.
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Disney Connection: Another post-Weinstein Miramax belter, bringing a dark drama of kidnapped children and their anguished parents to the House of Mouse.
Disney Influence?: Always sensitive to the values of it core family market, Disney bosses delayed the release of the film in Britain following widespread coverage of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
If It Was A Cartoon: The little girl wouldn’t be kidnapped or even in danger, but somehow shrunk to the size of a Weetabix and having a whimsical adventure in a sink or a hamper or something.
Sin City (2005)
Disney Connection: Long-time Dimension favourite Robert Rodriguez took his adaptation of Frank Miller’s ultra-noir comics to the studio when Miller agreed to the movies in 2005.
Disney Influence?: The hyper-real cartoon visuals of the movie are born from faithfulness to the source material rather than as a nod to Disney’s animation heritage.
If It Was A Cartoon: It would look roughly same, except even in cartoon monster form Mickey Rourke would probably look more human.
Starship Troopers (1997)
Disney Connection: What brought Robocop director Paul Verhoeven to Disney? This bug-hunting interplanetary war blockbuster, which was a co-production between Touchstone and TriStar in 1997.
Disney Influence?: There’s a disturbing lightness and brightness to Verhoeven’s satirical, verging on dystopian sci-fi thinker (Do you want to know more?) but it has nothing to do with Disney.
If It Was A Cartoon: Casper Van Diem’s chin would be even squarer , and at the end it would turn out that the bugs were all just misunderstood and that.
The Yards (2000)
Disney Connection: Miramax produced this typically gritty, talent-packed New York crime drama from director James Gray, which remains criminally underrated.
Disney Influence?: Disney might not have had an influence, but Harvey Weinstein sure did. The notoriously hands-on producer “made every major decision from beginning to end” according to Gray, boldly speaking out in the press. Harvey buried The Yards, and Gray didn’t direct another film for eight years.
If It Was A Cartoon: Instead of a dark thriller about corruption and industrial sabotage and murder, the cartoon would have Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix as train drivers in a smiley race across New York, waving and smiling to everyone they see and at no point accidentally killing Charlize Theron.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Disney Connection: Like its awards rival and frontier-minded twin No Country For Old Men, the spiteful, dark, revolutionary drama There Will Be Blood was a co-production between Miramax and Paramount
Disney Influence?: Uh...
If It Was A Cartoon: Instead of his head coming apart like a china bowl full of meaty chilli, when Eli is beaten repeatedly with a heavy bowling pin his eyes would rattle in his skull and his teeth would crack and fall out of his mouth hilariously.