Unlike Disney's two Peter Pan films featuring the character, which were produced primarily using traditional animation, Tinker Bell was produced using digital 3D modeling. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on October 28, 2008.
Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) is born from the first laugh of a baby with her fluffy white dress and her mop of hair down, looking a bit like Cinderella, and is brought by the winds to Pixie Hollow (which is part of the island of Never Land). She learns that her talent is to be one of the tinkers, the fairies who make and fix things. Two other tinker fairies, Bobble (Rob Paulsen) and Clank (Jeff Bennett), teach her their craft, and tell her about the fairies who visit the mainland to bring each season. Tinker Bell is thrilled and cannot wait to go to the mainland for spring. Tinker Bell is putting in her bun and wore green leafy dress and shoes.
While out working, she meets Silvermist (Lucy Liu), a water fairy; Rosetta (Kristin Chenoweth), a garden fairy; Iridessa (Raven-Symoné), a light fairy; and Fawn (America Ferrera), an animal fairy. After meeting them, she notices Vidia (Pamela Adlon), a fast-flying fairy who immediately dislikes her because of her unusually strong talent. Vidia challenges her to prove she will be able to go to the mainland, and Tinker Bell creates several inventions, which she shows to the Minister of Spring (Steve Valentine). But Tinker Bell soon learns from Queen Clarion (Anjelica Huston) that only nature-talent fairies visit the mainland.
She tries her hand at nature skills; making dewdrops with Silvermist, lighting fireflies with Iridessa, and trying with Fawn to teach baby birds to fly, but she fails miserably at all of these. Meanwhile, Bobble and Clank cover for Tinker Bell when questioned by Fairy Mary (Jane Horrocks), the tinker fairy overseer. When Tinker Bell returns, she tries to explain, but Mary simply responds that she knows, and expresses her disappointment with Tinker Bell's actions.
On the beach, Tinker Bell finds parts of a music box and figures out how to put them together. Iridessa, Fawn, Silvermist, and Rosetta witness her doing this, then tell her that she was tinkering and that she should be proud of her talent—if this is what she's good at, the mainland should not matter. But Tinker Bell still wants to go to the mainland. She asks Rosetta if she will still teach her to be a garden fairy, but Rosetta says she thinks that tinkering is Tinker Bell's talent.
As a last resort, Tinker Bell asks Vidia for help and to teach her what fast-flying fairies do. Vidia craftily tells her that capturing the sprinting thistles would prove her worth. However, once she sees Tinker Bell making progress, she lets the captured thistles loose, and in attempting to recapture them, Tinker Bell destroys all the preparations for spring. Tinker Bell decides to leave, but after talking with the keeper of the pixie dust, Terence (Jesse McCartney), about how important his job is, she realizes the importance of a tinker.
Tinker Bell redeems herself by inventing machines that quicken the process of decorating flowers, ladybugs, etc. This allows the other fairies to get back on schedule, thus saving the arrival of spring. Vidia is punished for prompting Tinker Bell's actions which caused all the chaos, and Queen Clarion allows Tinker Bell to join the nature-talent fairies when they bring spring to the mainland. Tinker Bell is given the task of delivering the music box to its original owner (shown to be Wendy Darling). The narrator ends by saying that when lost toys are found or a broken clock starts to work, "it all means that one very special fairy might be near."
- Mae Whitman as Tinker Bell, an exceptionally skilled and masterful tinker fairy born of a baby's very first laugh. She is fascinated by stories about the mainland of the human world, and is thus discouraged to learn that tinkers do not go there. She tries to learn various other fairy skills before finally accepting, with the help of her best friends, that she truly is a tinker. She helps to repair the massive damage she created and is rewarded, as she is allowed to join the nature fairies on their trip, where she delivers Wendy her lost toy.
- Kristin Chenoweth as Rosetta, a garden fairy who at first agrees to teach Tinker Bell how to garden, but later changes her mind after seeing Tinker Bell fix a music box with relative ease.
- Raven-Symoné as Iridessa, a light fairy who tries to teach Tinker Bell to light up fireflies. She is often the first to voice discomfort about Tinker Bell not wanting to accept her job as a tinker.
- Lucy Liu as Silvermist, a water fairy who tries to teach Tinker Bell to make dewdrops on spider webs. She is possessed of a sassy sense of humor.
- America Ferrera as Fawn, an animal fairy who tries to teach Tinker Bell to get baby birds to fly. She is closest to Tinker Bell, and expresses her desire for her to be happy, which she suggests is in tinkering itself.
- Jane Horrocks as Fairy Mary, the overseer of all of the tinker fairies, who expresses high hopes for Tinker Bell's usual natural talents. She is greatly disappointed to learn that Tinker Bell does not like being a tinker, but is pleased to see her accept her job and help repair the damage caused to Spring. Mary charges her with delivering the toy she repaired after she becomes a nature fairy.
- Jesse McCartney as Terence, the pixie-dust keeper, who is surprised to find out that Tinker Bell knows his name. In mentioning how his job is unimportant, he causes Tinker Bell to remark just how important it is, and realize her own importance.
- Jeff Bennett as Clank, a large tinker fairy with a booming voice. He is usually found with Bobble or Tinker Bell.
- Rob Paulsen as Bobble, a wispy tinker fairy with large glasses who helps Tink out; he is usually found with Clank or with Cheese, a mouse.
- Pamela Adlon as Vidia, a fast-flying fairy, Tinker Bell's rival and the film's main antagonist. She is humiliated by Tinker Bell when they both choose the same hiding space from a hawk, and Vidia has a load of berries fall on her. When Tinker Bell comes to her for help, Vidia craftily suggests that Tink capture sprinting thistles. Vidia is later punished for her part in this.
- Anjelica Huston as Queen Clarion, the queen of all Pixie Hollow, who gives Tinker Bell her job and oversees the four seasons. Queen Clarion is wary of Tinker Bell's eagerness; she is proved correct when Tinker Bell accidentally destroys the preparations for spring after being sabotaged by Vidia. Queen Clarion nevertheless forgives Tinker Bell after Tinker Bell helps repair the damage done. Queen Clarion then rewards Tinker Bell by allowing her to go to the mainland.
- Loreena McKennitt as the Narrator, who relates the importance of fairies as it applies to reality.
- Steve Valentine as the Minister of Spring, the grand master of spring, who makes sure everything is finished in time.
- Kathy Najimy as the Minister of Summer
- Richard Portnow as the Minister of Autumn
- Gail Borges as the Minister of Winter
- America Young as Wendy Darling, the girl whose toy Tinker Bell repaired. She is given it back at the end of the film.
- Kathryn Cressida as Mrs. Darling
- Bob Bergen as Fireflies
Tinker Bell is the first Disney film to feature Tinker Bell in a speaking role. Late actress Brittany Murphy was originally selected for the part, before the role went to Mae Whitman. Planned for release in fall 2007, the movie experienced delays in connection with personnel changes in Disney management. According to a June 2007 article in Variety, Sharon Morrill, the head of Disneytoons direct-to-DVD division since 1994, was removed from this position due to problems with this film, including a budget that had expanded to almost $50 million, and "close to two dozen versions of the script and a dozen different directors." Pixar Animation executives John Lasseter and Ed Catmull were given leadership of Walt Disney Feature Animation after Disney purchased Pixar in early 2006, and although Disneytoons is not under their management, "they are said to have gotten increasingly involved in the unit's operations." Lasseter reportedly said that the film was at that time "virtually unwatchable" and that it would hurt both Walt Disney Feature Animation as well as the Disney Consumer Products line it was meant to support. Morill was moved to "special projects" and the status of the movie was seriously in doubt. Disney observer Jim Hill reported at the time that the complications surrounding this movie had resulted in a decision that Disney would no longer produce straight-to-DVD sequels to its feature films.
The score to the film was composed by Joel McNeely, who recorded the music with an 88-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony and Celtic violin soloist Máiréad Nesbitt at the Sony Scoring Stage.
The movie's soundtrack was released on October 14, 2008, a week before the DVD release and contains songs from and inspired by the film.
- "To the Fairies They Draw Near" - Loreena McKennitt
- "Fly to Your Heart" - Selena Gomez
- "How to Believe" - Ruby Summer
- "Let Your Heart Sing" - Katharine McPhee
- "Be True" - Jonatha Brooke
- "To the Fairies They Draw Near, Part II" - Loreena McKennitt
- "Shine" - Tiffany Giardina
- "Fly with Me" - Kari Kimmel
- "Wonder of it All" - Scottie Haskell
- "End Credit Score Suite" - Joel McNeely
An soundtrack album of Joel McNeely's score from the film was released on July 22, 2013 through Intrada Records as part of a co-branding arrangement with Walt Disney Records.
The digitally animated character of Tinker Bell and other fairies appearing in the film were featured in Disney Channel bumpers in which they would draw the channel's logo with their wands. Rosetta's represents her webisode. Marketing efforts for the film included a tie-in with Southwest Airlines, decorating and naming a Boeing 737 "Tinker Bell One". Flight attendants wore fairy wings and awarded prizes to passengers who correctly answered trivia questions about the Tinker Bell character.
Frank Nissen, the director of Cinderella III: A Twist in Time directed a series of webisodes to promote the film on the "Fairies" channel of the Disney XD web site. Except for a few vocal effects, only one contains dialogue.
|Tink and the Bell||Tinker Bell finds a silver jingle bell, makes funny faces at her reflection in it, and then gets stuck in it.|
|Tink and the Pepper Shaker||Tinker Bell finds a pepper shaker and plays with it.|
|Fawn and the Log||Fawn attempts to wake some sleepy squirrels in a log.|
|Fawn and the Butterfly||Fawn attempts to help a butterfly which is having trouble getting out of its chrysalis.|
|Silvermist and the Fish||Silvermist helps a baby fish get over a waterfall so that it can be with its family.|
|Iridessa and the Light Bugs||With the help of Pixie Dust, Iridessa helps make lightning bugs glow.|
|Rosetta and the Flower||Rosetta has some trouble in attempting to get a stubborn flower bud to open up. (This is the only webisode with two versions: one with dialogue and one without.)|
|Tink and the Bird||This one was shown once on ABC in their special airing of Walt Disney's Peter Pan.|
The film saw a brief theatrical release at the El Capitan Theatre between September 19 and October 2. It was shown on the Disney Channel on November 30 as part of "New in November". It was well received by critics, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it an 89% approval rating. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on October 28, 2008. In North America, 668,000 copies were sold on its first day of release, about 22 percent above previous estimations. DVD sales brought in $52,201,882 in revenue for 3,347,686 units sold.
Six sequels have been released: Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (2009), Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (2010), Pixie Hollow Games (2011), Secret of the Wings (2012), The Pirate Fairy (2014) and Legend of the NeverBeast (2015).
- When Tinker Bell was born, she is pointed towards the left (the direction Queen Clarion enters soon after her birth), also seen in Secret of the Wings. This proves Tinker Bell is older than Periwinkle, because the fairy on the left is pointed the left, just like Tinker Bell had been in the first movie, and she wore a white strapless outfit. Periwinkle, however, was pointed towards the right, and wore a dress that included a collar around her neck.
- This is not the first CGI appearance of Tinker Bell; as she first appeared in CGI on the 2001-2009 on-screen Disney DVD logo. This film is however Tinker Bell's first appearance in a CGI-animated film.
- After many years of remaining as a silent character, this film marks the first time Tinker Bell was given a speaking role, voiced by Mae Whitman. Late actress Brittany Murphy was initially chosen to provide Tink's voice in this film; however, due to scheduling conflicts, she was replaced by Mae Whitman.
- Before Tinker Bell finds her talent, a group of winter fairies is seen. In Secret of the Wings, it is said that a law had long ago been made that no warm and winter fairy is to cross the other region, and if disregarded, can break the fairy's wings. Yet, a group of winter fairies is shown to be able to survive. Also, Clank and Bobble and Tinker Bell can be seen flying across the winter region after she is named by Queen Clarion.