I thought it was interesting that the 2 new American Girl television movies are being produced by Warner Brothers's HBO Max, because Warner Brothers actually has an interesting history with American Girl movies- they produced the first five!
The first American Girl movie was Samantha: An American Girl Holiday back in 2004. The premiere of this movie was on The WB, which is now The CW, and the DVD was distributed by Warner Brothers. The same thing happened with Felicity: An American Girl Adventure the next year. However, in mid-2006, The WB became The CW, and since the next American Girl movie wouldn't bring in the teenagers The CW was hoping to attract, Molly's movie premiered on Disney Channel. Warner Brothers, however, still distributed the DVD.
Warner Brothers's relationship with AG hit a snag, however, when the studio brought Kit Kittredge: An American Girl to theaters in 2008. Despite slightly positive reviews, the movie profited less than it cost to make. The movie cost $10 million to make, and after that got taken away from the box office total, Warner Brothers and American Girl only saw a $7.7 million profit. Ouch. So yeah, after Chrissa Stands Strong (which was already filmed before Kit's movie flopped) premiered on HBO the next year, Warner Brothers cancelled a planned Julie musical and cut ties with American Girl for the time being.
After trying to find a new movie partner for a bit, American Girl partnered with NBC Universal for their next five movies. Their first movie together, McKenna Shoots For The Stars, released in the summer of 2012 on DVD and on NBC. The same thing happened with Saige Paints The Sky the next year, however, probably due to the last minute of Saige's movie being interrupted by the verdict of a murder trial (I am not kidding!), American Girl decided to have Universal release the DVD of Isabelle Dances Into The Spotlight and premiere the movie on Disney Channel a few weeks after the DVD release.
However, after Isabelle's movie premiered, Disney Channel slacked on airing Grace and Lea's movies. Grace Stirs Up Success didn't air on Disney Channel until a year after, when they were preparing to premiere a TV show starring Olivia Rodrigo- yes, kids, Olivia Rodrigo WAS an American Girl doll before she sung songs about driver's licenses. Ironically, the first TV showing of Grace's movie worldwide was on the Family channel in Canada! It took about six month for Lea's movie to air as well.
Without a channel to show the movies on or a distributor with the infrastructure to prioritize showing American Girl movies on a family-friendly platform, as well as a new CEO for American Girl, Lea to the Rescue was the last one that was an hour or longer for a while. American Girl released some short movies ranging from 30 to 40 minutes on Amazon Prime during late 2016 and early 2017, but aside from that, there were no American Girl live action movies... except for rumors of one.
In 2018, it was announced that American Girl and Original Film, the producer of the Fast and Furious franchise (which I'm unironically a fan of most of those movies) and the Sonic movies, were working on a theatrical American Girl movie. However, Original Film left the project, and it was announced again with upstart production company Picturestart, founded by the former CEO of Lionsgate and MGM distributing. In another turn for the project, Amazon just bought MGM, so it is unknown if this project is still active.
All hope was lost for American Girl movies... until American Girl announced two one-hour special movies with their old friend... Warner Brothers, specifically HBO Max and Cartoon Network.
I'm so excited for the movie! I might just have to forgive HBO Max for cancelling Infinity Train prematurely, because this is AWESOME.
Sorry for this, but my film geek side had to put this up once it realized that AG movies are returning to their roots!