In 2022, I will watch every Disney Channel Original Movie and every available Disney Channel Premiere Film. The Premiere Films preceded DCOMs, but both brands consisted of television movies made specifically for The Disney Channel. I have seen most DCOMs and previously watched a handful of Disney Channel Premiere Films (we’ll call them DCPFs for convenience).
*Instead of going in chronological order straight from 1983 to the present, I am watching each film on the anniversary of its television debut. So, I will party like it’s 1999 exactly eight times.*
I’m so excited to embark on this project because I believe it’s important for a Disney Channel historian to routinely engage with the canon of the channel’s TV movies. I also love a good treasure hunt, and many DCPFs are rather difficult to find. I’ve already ordered one on VHS and am allocating a small budget to purchase others as needed. Even with the magic of eBay, a couple of DCPFs on my watch list are endangered media. I wouldn’t call them lost, but I certainly haven’t found them (I’m more than happy to provide a list if you have archives or want to help hunt!).
As it stands, my list encompasses 159 movies: 47 DCPFs, and 112 DCOMs (new 2022 original movies will be added when official release dates are confirmed). Some technical notes as I begin my year-long journey:
- While it’s a helpful resource and starting point, Wikipedia is not the authoritative source on info for all Disney Channel television movies, especially the Premiere Films. The D23 website is a good resource, though not 100% correct either. When in doubt, I was careful to research films for my list using news outlets, write-ups, other reference lists, etc.
- I count Northern Lights as the inaugural DCOM, though I respect Disney Channel’s stance that Under Wraps is the first “official” DCOM. I also count Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure as a DCOM. Although it was a straight-to-DVD release in April 2011, it was branded as a DCOM for its May 2011 television premiere on Disney Channel.
- Even though I’ll watch it because, ya know, Erik Von Detten, I found that Escape to Witch Mountain (1995) premiered on ABC, not The Disney Channel. Therefore, it’s not in my Premiere Film count (though you might see it listed as a DCPF in other spots). The Mr. Boogedy films were also ABC debuts. Airborne was theatrically released and later shown on the channel.
- On that note, although I might watch/rewatch them for fun, this list does not include other “non-DCOMs” that aired on the channel, such as 16 Wishes, Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, and The Wonderful World of Disney movies (My Date With the President’s Daughter, Model Behavior, Life Size, etc.). An exception to the WWOD rule: The Blue Yonder (1985) was a DCPF before it was revamped as an ABC movie and given the title Time Flyer.
With each movie I watch, I’ll record my thoughts and share via my website and social media. I’m also planning monthly reflections to put some of these films in conversation with each other. More to come about that! Many of these movies have impacted me personally already, but I’m open to new interpretations and insights. Thanks for reading about this project, and cheers to a new year! 🙂