‘Lizzie McGuire’ Tried (and Failed) To Return So Many Times

Movies


The Big Picture

  • The Lizzie McGuire Movie sequel was canceled due to contract negotiations between Hilary Duff and Disney falling through.
  • A high school spin-off of Lizzie McGuire was planned for ABC but was also scrapped due to failed negotiations.
  • The Lizzie McGuire reboot for Disney+ was canceled because Disney wanted to keep the series more “PG” while Hilary Duff wanted it to explore more mature themes.


In the history of tween-based television, there are few shows and characters quite as defining as Lizzie McGuire. From 2001-2004, Disney Channel viewers followed the relatable (and klutsy) character, brought to life by Hilary Duff, as she navigated middle school crushes, bullies, and all the other coming-of-age challenges she and her friends faced. The series concluded with 2004’s theatrical release, The Lizzie McGuire Movie. The film sees Lizzie masquerade as an Italian popstar in Rome while on a school field trip. During the lavish adventure, she ultimately overcomes many of the challenges she faced over the years, as she finds herself and romance blossoms with one of her best friends, Gordo (Adam Lamberg).

When it was announced that the Walt Disney Company would launch its own streaming service, Disney+, one of the first shows revealed for the service was a reboot of Lizze McGuire. That reboot was infamously canceled by Disney, after the “family-friendly” company disapproved of some of the adult content intended for the show. However, it’s a little known fact to even the most loyal of Lizzie-fans that this was far from the first attempt at continuing the beloved character’s story. A sequel to The Lizzie McGuire Movie was planned almost immediately following the film’s success and a televised continuation was also in the works for some time, one that would have put Lizzie and her friends in a primetime network television slot. Yet, despite being one of Disney’s most popular franchises at the time, neither materialized.

Lizzie McGuire

The daily adventures of an adolescent girl whose real thoughts and emotions are expressed by her sarcastic animated alter ego.

Release Date
January 12, 2001

Cast
Hilary Duff , Lalaine , jake thomas , Hallie Todd , Robert Carradine

Main Genre
Comedy

Seasons
2


Why Didn’t ‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie’ Sequel Happen?

Following the success of The Lizzie McGuire Movie, a sequel seemed inevitable. In fact, according to Entertainment Weekly, talks of a sequel were already underway not long after the first film’s release. With the Lizzie McGuire franchise in full swing, both Duff and Disney were eager to return to the table to negotiate a deal for a follow-up to the film. Things didn’t pan out as either side had hoped, however. Susan Duff, Hilary’s mother who acted as her agent during the negotiations, recalled that she and her daughter didn’t feel they weren’t given a fair offer from Disney, considering the success that Lizzie McGuire brought the company. Susan Duff told EW: “Disney thought they’d be able to bully us into accepting whatever offer they wanted to make, and they couldn’t.”

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Indeed, Lizzie McGuire was one of the Disney Channel’s first big hits and The Lizzie McGuire Movie brought in $55.5 million against its $17 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. Per EW, the sequel deal that Disney initially offered included a $500,000 bonus for Duff when the first film reached the $50 million milestone. The bonus was added on top of Duff’s overall $4 million salary for the sequel and four percent of Disney’s grosses for the film. Duff’s mother requested that the bonus be paid upfront, but Disney decided to withdraw the offer and the movie deal all together. Susan Duff told EW: “We walked away from a sequel. They walked away from a franchise.” Hilary Duff didn’t publicly comment on the negotiations, saying only: “I am very supportive of my mom and dad’s involvement in my career and appreciate the guidance of my management team.” Of Duff’s departure, Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group (a division of Disney) president Nina Jacobson said, “We tried very hard to close a deal on the Lizzie McGuire sequel. We think Hilary is very talented and we very much wanted to stay in business with her.”

To date, the franchise is still considered one of Disney Channel’s most iconic, but, with Disney and the Duffs unable to come to an agreement, The Lizzie McGuire Movie sequel was canceled. A big screen follow-up wasn’t the only continuation that was lost in the failed deal, though.

A ‘Lizzie McGuire’ High School Spin-off Was Developed for ABC

Lizzie McGuire set the standard for other Disney Channel hits that followed, such as That’s So Raven and Hannah Montana, with relatable tween plots, tight-knit families, and big-name guest stars. With the show being as successful as it was, Disney was eager to continue it. Following the success of the original series and the feature film, Disney planned the first Lizzie sequel series as a high school-set spin-off that would follow the titular character as she grew up. The show was slated for a primetime slot on the Disney-owned network, ABC. The show’s move to the network would have allowed for more mature plots in the vein of Boy Meets World, itself a series that had episodes banned for “not family friendly” storylines during its Disney Channel syndication.

Negotiations for the series took place along with those for a feature film sequel. EW claims Disney offered Duff $35,000 an episode, but Duff’s lawyer, Michael R. Fuller said that the offer was lower than expected. Per EW, Fuller was quoted: “They were telling us we’d get an offer and be very happy… We didn’t hear anything for months, and then came this anticlimactic proposal.” The network deal, coupled with the failed negotiations on The Lizzie McGuire Movie sequel affectively ended the Lizzie universe for nearly two decades, until a glimmer of hope presented itself in 2019 with the launch of Disney+.

Why Disney+ Canceled the ‘Lizzie McGuire’ Reboot

Disney+ has come a long way since its November 2019 launch. During its humble beginnings, the Lizzie McGuire reboot was a cornerstone of its promotion. The first clip of Hilary Duff back in her beloved role was the climax of the 2020 release trailer for the streamer. However, the sequel series soon met the fate of its unlaunched predecessors. The show would have followed 30-year-old Lizzie as a New York City-based interior designer, whose life is turned upside down when she finds her fiancé cheating on her. Like the high school-based spin-off, the show would have followed more mature themes. Recently shared plot details revealed that we would have seen Lizzie hooking up with her middle school crush, Ethan Craft, as well as other adult storylines. Disney, however, wasn’t keen on the former tween property growing up that much.

The company wanted to keep the series more “PG,” an outlook not shared by its star, Hilary Duff. The actress pleaded with Disney to move the show to Hulu, where it could indulge in themes that had grown with the character and its original audience. A similar move was made with another Disney+ series, Love, Victor. However, Disney did not agree, and the show has since been laid to rest.

Audiences may never get to see where life took Lizzie after her journey to Rome. Though many valiant attempts have been made to continue the franchise over the last 20 years, it seems that more Lizzie McGuire is not in the cards for the time being. For now, fans of the character will have to live with the happy ending the film gave Lizzie — one that sees her overcoming her fears, performing in front of thousands, and pursuing an innocent romance with her best friend Gordo.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie is available to stream on Disney+ in the U.S.

Watch on Disney+



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