Disney looks to be banking on the TRON franchise having much greater success in the 2010s than in the 1980s, if the rumors and recent announcements are any indication.

TRON was a bit of an underperformed in the summer of ’82, grossing $33 million dollars (from a $17 million budget). It was by no means an out-and-out failure, but there’s a reason it’s taken nearly 30 years for a sequel to appear. Once the sequel hits though, Disney has plans to keep the momentum rolling with a recently confirmed animated TV show, and rumors of a Pirates Of The Caribbean-style trilogy in the pipe.

Yesterday, Disney confirmed that a TRON mini-series (10 parts) would premiere in late 2011 on their “Disney XD” channel. A full animated series would then follow, presumably starting in 2012 once the mini-series ends. Aimed squarely for the youngin’s, the shows will cater to kids, 6-14 years old (the nerds in their 30s are just a bonus demo).

What Disney didn’t announce, but is speculated by Disney-centric blog Blue Sky Disney (who accurately called the animated series announcement a few days ahead), are plans to keep TRON lightcycling along with a new full trilogy of films. The slow burn marketing that the Mouse House is employing for TRON:Legacy suggests they’re putting real muscle behind this film, and an animated series would certainly help keep the awareness up in between films if there are more. Blue Sky Disney also mentions that if TRON starts hitting the level of success that they hope for, you can expect a major deployment of related merchandise (duh) and theme park inclusion. All this could be an extremely astute move for Disney.

As I mentioned, TRON didn’t rock the world in it’s original release- but CGI was still a scary thing back then, and the computer-based plot was definitely ahead of its time (even if the script itself kinda blows). The time is definitely ripe for a trip back into the system though, and the aesthetic of TRON lends itself to 3D, which is obviously a hot commodity these days. While it’s certainly not going to hit the level of Avatar, Disney definitely has the opportunity to have a powerful franchise where (like Avatar) 3D is considered a part of the experience, and not just an add-on or secondary consideration. Consider also the recently announced plan to render five scenes of the film in close-to-full IMAX resolution. Even if it wasn’t greenlit with this level of ambition, I think the changing tides and strong buzz has ensured TRON is going to be a big priority for Disney.

On a related note, Total Film has been releasing stills from TRON:Legacy, leading up to the trailer that many have already caught before Alice In Wonderland. Take a look, then hit the link below and let us know how you feel about a heavy hitting TRON franchise on the Message Board.

Animated Series Source | THR

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