The Mighty Ducks is the first film in a series that spans three live-action films and a corresponding spin-off animated series. The franchise has been so enduringly popular, that it has its own branded area in Disney World, and lead towards an actual NHL ice hockey team being founded called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Given the high-concept notion of ‘misfit children learning life lessons through playing sport together’, mixed in with massively saleable visual imagery created with a tilt towards the American youth market, it is hardly surprising that Disney has been behind the commercial success of the ‘Mighty Ducks’ entertainment brand.
The Anaheim Ducks (as they are now known, due to Disney selling the team in 2005) had to play ice hockey competitively to prove to their audiences that they were more than just a gimmick, eventually going on to win the Stanley Cup Championship in 2007; the films, on the other hand, were content to rework the same tropes over again, using several of the same actors, to enjoy increasingly dwindling box office figures down from $50 million to $22 million (which for D3 is still more than double its production budget).
Nevertheless, given Disney’s strategy of releasing direct-to-video films that lead on from one successful tent-pole cinema release, it is actually a credit to the popularity of the Mighty Ducks series, and to the first film in particular, that the successive films reached theatres in the first place…
The full 800 word version of this review is published in Directory of World Cinema: American Hollywood 2, edited by Lincoln Geraghty, published by Intellect Books, 2015.