DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp is a 1990 animated comedy adventure fantasy film released by Walt Disney Pictures on August 3, 1990. It is based on the hit animated series DuckTales. It is also the first animated film produced by Disneytoon Studios (albeit named "Disney MovieToons" during that period) and the first to be released theatrically.
The film received generally positive reviews, but wasn't a box office success.
The film begins with two things: an eagle flying over a canyon, and Launchpad McQuack flying his plane through the canyon in his usual method for flying, much to the fright of Scrooge McDuck and the enjoyment of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby. Launchpad is taking them to a dig site where the local workers have found a chamber that possibly contains the Treasure of Collie Baba and his 40 Thieves. Launchpad ends up landing the plane upside down, and takes some ancient ruins down as well.
The chest that was found indeed belonged to Collie Baba, but is revealed to be old clothing. Scrooge is disappointed, until Louie finds a rolled-up parchment in one of the pockets, which turns out to be a map. This discovery brightens Scrooge's mood and they set off to look for the location of the potential treasure.
One of the diggers, named Dijon, is apparently working for a powerful wizard named Merlock, who is after a lamp that's no doubt included with the treasure; Dijon is more than happy to be given a large reward in repayment, or as he refers to it: "my own mountain of money". Dijon tells him of the map that leads to the treasure's whereabouts, but Merlock is angry when Dijon admits that he didn't steal it, due to there being too many people and only one Dijon. However, he did manage to see where the map led: out into the middle of the desert. Merlock is annoyed because he had already searched every part of the desert. Then he gets an idea, he'd simply let Scrooge find the treasure's location. He then enlists the reluctant Dijon to be Mr. McDuck's guide, uses his magic talisman to change into an eagle, and flies away.
The group makes their way across the desert upon caravans, with Launchpad obviously having some trouble steering his camel. Scrooge's map leads them to a location within the range of a mountain, but there’s nothing there. It is shown that Launchpad can crash not only planes but also camels. In actuality, his camel tripped over a small pyramid-shaped rock which, when they start digging, turns out to be the tip of a larger pyramid, the location of Collie Baba's treasure.
While Merlock, in eagle form, waits patiently outside, the others journey into the pyramid. Launchpad, by accident, exposes a booby trap, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie start keeping an eye out for more. All goes fairly well until Dijon activates a trapdoor, and they all tumble into another chamber. Thankfully, this chamber is the one containing what Scrooge has been looking for: The Treasure of Collie Baba.
Everyone starts playing around in the pile of gold coins and even try on some of the jewelry. When they suddenly notice that the platform is above a pit with giant scorpions, Scrooge insists that they have nothing to worry about, because they're safe up here. Dijon finds the Lamp that Merlock was searching for, but before he can grab it, Scrooge sends him off to get sacks for carrying the treasure. While he is gone, Webby finds the lamp. Scrooge inspects the lamp and considers it worthless, but gladly lets Webby take it as an addition for toy tea parties.
As Dijon begins carrying the last bag across the rope bridge, he accidentally bumps Launchpad, who almost falls down to the scorpions. As the others help him, Merlock appears and sets fire to the rope bridge, trapping everyone except Dijon on the platform. Merlock activates a final trap, causing the platform to descend down to the scorpions and leave them to their fate. Huey, Dewey, and Louie begin cutting the ropes holding down the giant basket that held the treasure, as Scrooge uses his cane to fend off the giant scorpions that begin jumping up to the platform. The group uses the giant basket as a shield against the scorpions and then as a boat to escape on a secret underground river.
Meanwhile, Merlock can't find the lamp among the treasure brought outside of the pyramid and promptly blames Dijon. He then changes into an eagle to fly back to the treasure chamber. Dijon, meanwhile, starts storing as much treasure as he can into his pants.
The underground river briefly submerges the group and then deposits them at a distant oasis far from the pyramid. Scrooge is depressed that he lost the treasure he'd been seeking for so long. Webby, hoping to cheer him up, offers to return the lamp back to him. He kindly and gently refuses her offer, stating, "It took me 40 years to find the treasure, and I plan to get it back, even if it takes another 40."
Dijon returns to the treasure room, pants filled with coins and such, looking for Merlock. Merlock confronts Dijon, who was in his underwear, explaining that the group had vanished. Believing that Scrooge and the others used the lamp to get away, Merlock tells Dijon that he will be helping to get it back, or else…
Two days later, everyone is back in Duckburg. Scrooge is having a difficult time trying to keep his mind off the treasure that he lost, only to have everyone keep reminding him of it, from the Duckburg Daily News to his secretary. He is especially annoyed when he’s invited to the Archaeological Society Ball, because he told "those old fossils" that he would find Collie Baba's treasure, but he kept coming back empty-handed every year this happened. He finally gets so fed up with the whole thing that he leaves his office.
Back at the mansion, Duckworth leaves to pick up Scrooge from work. Alone in the room with the three nephews, Webby starts polishing off the lamp when it suddenly jumps away from her. She demonstrates it for the boys as the lamp starts jumping around like crazy and finally shoots out a ball of light which turns into a Genie (a turban-wearing duck about the nephews' and Webby's size). Though frightened at first, the Genie begins exploring the modern territory and even sneaks away to read the entire encyclopedia A-Z to "catch up on the 20th Century".
Soon, Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby demand instructions to make their three wishes. After the Genie explains it to them, Webby wishes for a baby elephant. The Genie obviously tries to stop himself from fulfilling the wish, but he fails, and a baby elephant (referred to at one point as "Pinkie") appears in the library. The Genie is upset and explains that if anyone saw the elephant, they’d soon start fighting over him and he'd eventually become buried in the lamp for another 1,000 years. Huey agrees to use up one of his wishes to un-wish Webby's wish, but not before Mrs. Beakley sees it and, in a panic, rushes to the recently-arriving Scrooge.
Scrooge doesn't believe her until he catches a glimpse of the nephews and Webby sneaking out with a chair in front of them. They reach the boys' bedroom, where they try to get the Genie to return to the lamp. The Genie, not wanting to go back inside, agrees to hide in the closet instead. Everything works well after Scrooge enters until the Genie slips and makes a loud crash. As a cover, the Genie comes out of the closet disguised as a normal person and gets referred to as "Gene". Under the guise of a sleepover, the four kids convince Scrooge to let him stay.
Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby use their wishes to have the time of their lives with everything from bouncy trampolines to a giant ice cream stack. Soon, only one of Louie and Webby's wishes are left. Gene is frightened by the shadow of an owl, mistaking it for his other master (who Collie Baba stole the lamp from long ago), an evil sorcerer who can use a magic talisman to change into different animals. Gene explains that he's afraid that his older master might still be around since one of his wishes was to live forever. Gene tells how horribly he used the wishes, which resulted in the disasters of Atlantis and Pompeii; and worst of all, putting his talisman on the lamp will give him unlimited wishes. Genie reveals that wishing to steal the talisman from his older master (who is revealed to be Merlock) is one wish he can't do, meaning that they'd have to take it from Merlock himself. The siblings assure Gene that he's safe with them.
Merlock, meanwhile, has located the mansion. After depositing Dijon in a bramble patch, he turns himself into a rat and sneaks in. Webby has Gene attend a tea party with her toys, and when he talks about how lifeless the party is, Webby gets the idea to bring her toys to life with her last wish. Mrs. Beakley, who had been chasing after the Merlock-Rat, panics once more when many toys start stampeding toward her. Gene begs Webby to undo the wish, but she explains that she can't since she used up all her wishes.
Scrooge has made up his mind not to attend the Ball, but Launchpad had already left to pick him up. He is suddenly swept off on his runaway top hat (the hat is on one of Webby's toy ducks that came to life), and the Merlock-Rat gets chased by a toy tiger. Once the boys see what's going on, they confront Webby but are then confronted by Scrooge, who demands an explanation. Knowing they're caught, Louie uses his last wish to return the toys to normal, thus exposing the Genie. When he understands the situation, Scrooge forgets about his anger toward the children and thinks of all the possibilities of his wishes. Launchpad arrives, and Scrooge decides he'd attend the Ball after all, after using his first wish to retrieve the Treasure of Collie Baba. Scrooge tells Genie to get back into the lamp because he'll be coming with Scrooge. After unsuccessful protests, the four kids say goodbye, and the Genie gets back inside the lamp. Merlock sneaks away, grabs Dijon, transforms into an eagle, and follows Scrooge's helicopter.
Scrooge leaves the Genie to hide in a potted plant at the party as he mingles into the crowd. Merlock and Dijon soon arrive as well. Merlock enters the front while Dijon sneaks in through the back (and swipes shiny silverware along the way). The Genie, having been snitching from passing trays, is actually enjoying his party-of-one. He reaches for a napkin, only to find it's actually Merlock's cape. Merlock doesn't see the Genie, but the Genie knows he'd have to warn Mr. McDuck. Scrooge, meanwhile, has just arrived on stage to make his official announcement about finding Collie Baba's Treasure. Merlock makes his way to the stage, and the Genie sneaks ahead of him.
After warning Scrooge of the danger, the Genie pulls him away and into the upstairs area of the building as Merlock gives chase. The Genie brings them into a room where he starts blocking the door with furniture to hold Merlock off. The Genie begs Scrooge to use a wish to escape, but Scrooge refuses, considering the wishes to be worth a fortune. When questioned whether it's more important than saving his life, Scrooge is left uncertain before Merlock uses the form of a bear to try and break in, and arrives outside the room. Using the last attempt, the Genie tosses the lamp into a bowl-like chandelier and brings Scrooge into it with him.
When Merlock gets in and finds no one, Dijon arrives in the room, pants filled with shiny objects, when he accidentally drops his pants, and his underwear is revealed. So he picks up his pants, and Merlock changes into an eagle to search outside. Scrooge is annoyed at being dragged into the lamp. The Genie dislikes getting the blame for the current situation, pointing out that he did save Scrooge's life. He tells Scrooge how he wishes to have a life of his own, like Scrooge's nephews, have. Scrooge decides to take the Genie (inside the lamp) to his Money Bin in Duckburg, considering it the only safe place. While escaping, Scrooge crashes into a dinner cart, drops the lamp, and accidentally grabs a gravy container that has a similar design as the lamp. Dijon, attempting to follow Scrooge, finds the lamp and the Genie. The Genie, not wanting to return to Merlock, convinces Dijon that he can now be his new master.
Scrooge arrives at the Money Bin to discover that Dijon had usurped his position and now owns Scrooge's entire fortune. Scrooge realizes that he had grabbed the wrong lamp, as Dijon then has him arrested and hauled away to prison. Merlock, who had followed Scrooge's copter, watches as he is taken away.
While in prison, Scrooge makes a promise to himself that if he ever gets his money back, he'd never make another wish for himself again. His family then arrives, having paid his bail charge with their own money. Scrooge becomes despondent; he knows all of the Money Bin's security alarm triggers. When asked if he knew how they could be deactivated, his hopes in retrieving the vault back from Dijon become brighter as an idea forms. Soon, he and the others are planning a break-in.
Merlock attempts to sneak into the Money Bin as a cockroach but can't get through the window. He decides to follow Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby as they enter the back door using Scrooge's code. From there, Scrooge gives them instructions through the security rooms from up on the roof via walkie-talkies. They almost reach the alarm panel, but it is guarded by a gauntlet of moving lasers. Louie tries to use Scrooge's directions to brave it, but a laser tears up the paper while he's in the middle. While trying to evade the lasers, Louie gets his tail feathers scorched and is thrown back to the start. Finally, Dewey suggests shooting marbles through the gauntlet and at the alarm panel, thus damaging the panel and disabling all the alarms.
Once all the alarms are deactivated, Merlock flies off ahead, and Scrooge enters the elevator shaft from the roof. Dijon is completely oblivious to the break-in. Scrooge manages to get to the office, where the Genie distracts Dijon so that Scrooge can get the lamp. Unfortunately, once Scrooge gets the lamp, Merlock reveals himself and steals it back. The Genie begs him not to do anything, but Merlock ignores him and puts his talisman onto the lamp, giving him unlimited wishes. Using the power of unlimited wishes, Merlock uses the first one to turn Dijon into a swine, which runs off in a panic. Fulfilling another wish, the Genie reluctantly transforms the entire building into a frightening fortress, which begins floating up out of Duckburg, and high into the atmosphere.
When Scrooge demands that the Money Bin be returned at once, this angers Merlock, who orders the Genie to get rid of Scrooge. The Genie desperately tries to fight it but is forced to create a great wind that blows Scrooge to the edge of the fortress, and he barely manages to grab a protruding piece of rock to keep from falling. Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby, who had ridden up on a wild staircase during the building's transformation, slingshot the lamp out of Merlock's hand. They eventually manage to throw the lamp to Scrooge, but he misses and begins falling from the fortress.
Merlock picks up his talisman, which became detached from the lamp, and transforms himself into a griffin, giving chase to Scrooge and the lamp. For a while, the two fight in the air until Scrooge succeeds in knocking the talisman out of Merlock's hand. Losing the talisman causes Merlock to lose power, as well as his griffin-form. Scrooge uses his cane to snatch the falling lamp back and makes his second wish: that he, the Money Bin, and his family are back in Duckburg right now. He, Genie, and the castle vanish as Merlock continues to fall to his presumed death.
The Money Bin reappears in Duckburg as dawn breaks. Everyone is thrilled that everything is back to normal. Scrooge is aware that one wish is left on the lamp, and has an idea of what it is. Scrooge wants to end the whole fiasco with the Genie and the lamp. Everyone is worried that he intends to wish for the lamp to be buried in an unreachable location. Instead, he surprises everyone by wishing that the Genie would turn into a real boy. The lamp envelopes the Genie with magic light, and a moment later, Gene emerges as a real boy.
Gene is beyond thrilled at getting what he's always wished for. The group notices the lamp since it no longer has a genie to inhabit it, falling apart. Dijon, meanwhile, had been hiding in the vault. He is suddenly brought out of his pig-form and is very glad to be back to normal.
Gene and the kids run off to enjoy his "first day as a real boy". Scrooge doesn't join them since he has his own idea of fun. He hopes to finally relax after the whole ordeal. However, right when he's going to take a dive in his money, he sees Dijon with some of his money in his pants. "But it’s only some loose change!" Dijon protests as Scrooge starts chasing him out of the building and onto the streets and shouts back, "I’ll change your face, you thief!" Scrooge ends the movie by shouting, "Somebody, stop those pants!"
- Alan Young as Scrooge McDuck
- Terry McGovern as Launchpad McQuack
- Russi Taylor as Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby Vanderquack
- Richard Libertini as Dijon
- Christopher Lloyd as Merlock the Magician
- June Foray as Mrs. Featherby
- Chuck McCann as Duckworth
- Joan Gerber as Bentina Beakley
- Rip Taylor as Gene the Genie
- Charlie Adler as Arab
- Jack Angel as Jail Guard
- Steve Bulen
- Sherry Lynn
- Mickie T. McGowan as Various Toys
- Patrick Pinney
- Frank Welker as Animals
Animator Larry Ruppel shared his experience during the film's production:
I was the sole American working at the Paris studio during this production, the other creative artists hailing mostly from France, Denmark, Australia and Italy. As the only American on staff, there were many occasions when I had to explain to supervisors or other animators the exact meaning of some American slang phrases used in the dialogue of the script. I'd like to add that this little movie ended up being quite important because of the many notable animation professionals who got their start on this project. Besides myself (I've animated numerous Disney projects, also Classic Warner Bros. shorts), there are, among others, DreamWorks animators Sylvain Deboissy and Nicholas Marlet, French animation director Pierre Lyphoudt, and ILM's James Baker and Daniel Jeannette. For all the Europeans working on this Disney feature, it was a dream come true, and because most of us were working on a feature for the first time in our lives, in a way it was our Snow White.
Director/producer Bob Hathcock revealed in an interview that the film began as a five-part episode for the TV series, similar to Treasure of the Golden Suns, Time is Money and Super DuckTales, adding: "Our first idea was to see if there was a way to release that as a feature." An initial treatment for the film centered on the Philosopher's stone, but the idea was later dropped. The script for the movie was mostly developed during the first half of 1989.
Due to the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, several animators who worked on the film were stationed at Disney's newly founded London studio and another location was established in Paris (under the supervision of Paul and Gaëtan Brizzi). Hathcock spent most of his time between London and Paris, while ink/paint/camera work was done in China, and additional work in Spain.
The film was not a financial success theatrically (which is probably what caused the proposed Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers film to be scrapped, the Goof Troop film A Goofy Movie to not bear the Goof Troop name) and all planned DuckTales films to be cancelled (there were plans for several more DuckTales movies following this film).
Critics in the USA, generally considered the film an Indiana Jones rip-off and a betrayal to Carl Barks's Uncle Scrooge comic books, which DuckTales was based on. (Ironic, considering that Indy is actually inspired by Barks' Scrooge comics.) They also compared the movie unfavourably to Walt Disney Animation Studios films such as Snow White and The Little Mermaid both in terms of its animation quality and story, being considered a downgrade from the beloved Disney Classics and a cheap attempt to cash in the popularity of a kids show most critics didn't bother paying attention to.
Noted movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert didn't even bother reviewing this film for their Siskel & Ebert & The Movies program. Overseas, however, critics were generally kinder to the film.
Many elements of the story were later used in the more successful Disney film, Aladdin, which grossed over $217 million in 1992. However, the movie has a 6.7 rating on IMDB, which is better than the last Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull from 2008 with a 6.4 IMDB. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 88% of the critics gave the film a positive review based on 8 reviews.
Despite the initial financial failure of the film, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp has grown a cult following throughout the years, and it is often considered by Disney fans as one of the most underrated Disney movies, alongside the The Rescuers Down Under, which came out shortly after this movie.
Home video release
The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc in the spring of 1991. It made its DVD debut as a Disney Movie Club exclusive DVD in 2006 in the US, and as a public release in Europe and other parts of the world on July 26, 2004. The DVD was also made available through Disney Movie Rewards. The DVD was promoted to a retail release in the US, to be initially sold exclusively at Walmart starting on October 14, 2014, with a general release on January 13, 2015. In Australia, it was only released on VHS twice.
- The part when the Ducks find the pyramid in the sand and dig it up, is taken out of Carl Barks' short story Pyramid Shame.
- Donald Duck, Gyro Gearloose, Doofus Drake, Bubba the Cave Duck and Fenton Crackshell do not appear in this movie at all, nor are they mentioned, though Donald make a photo cameo.
- The film was screened in theaters with the animated short "Dude Duck".
- This was the last animated Disney theatrical film to be produced in hand-painted cel animation, before the complete digitalization of CAPS, which would be used later that year on the 2D-feature film The Rescuers Down Under. Coincidentally, both films were box office failures during their theatrical runs. However, this film fared better with critics. Both films also became cult classics.
- This film uses a slightly different version of the Walt Disney Pictures opening logo. Notable differences are a chorus added, and the castle was already present at the start (as opposed to the usual blank blue screen), similar to most closing versions of the logo. This film was also the first to have the 1990 version of the logo on theatrical release (not counting the 1990 theatrical re-release of The Jungle Book), which later appeared in all Disney films that released at the time until the 2006 theatrical premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
- This was also the first theatrical film to be produced by Disneytoon Studios, followed by A Goofy Movie, The Tigger Movie, Return to Never Land, The Jungle Book 2, Piglet's Big Movie, and Pooh's Heffalump Movie.
- Darkwing Duck's city of St. Canard is seen off the coast of Duckburg in a wide shot of the city.
- Dijon is the only villain from the television series that appears in this movie; notable recurring villains that don't appear include the Beagle Boys, Ma Beagle, Magica De Spell, and Flintheart Glomgold.
- There is an error during the scene when Collie Baba's treasure is found: In one short shot, Scrooge is wearing his usual clothing, but in the next shots he is again wearing his explorer outfit.
- There is also an animation error at the end of Scrooge's mid-air scuffle with Merlock, though it can only be seen during a few frames. When Merlock can be seen turning back to normal from his griffin form and Scrooge is falling down, one can see Scrooge wearing his top hat: this shouldn't be so, since Scrooge's hat was blown away by the wind when Merlock forced the Genie to blow Scrooge out of the fortress.
- The poster for the movie was illustrated by Drew Struzan, who is best known for designing the posters for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films.
- The design of the poster also shares some similarities to the Indiana Jones posters, including the famous heading.