If it ain’t broke, don’t film it?
Updated: Feb 11
Beauty or Beast? Lady or Tramp? Princess or Frog?
Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Emma Watson and Dan Stevens… wait, that’s not the way the song goes! I’m sure everybody whether you’re a hardcore Disney fan, a casual movie fan or just anyone that lives in the English speaking world; you’re probably aware of all the live action re-imaginings of Disney animated feature films that have been appearing in our cinemas recently. I’d like to say that I’m against these films but I’m going to be honest, I go to the cinema to see them every time.
In my head, this trend started with Maleficent (2014) however I know that there were examples of this before 2014 with 101 Dalmatians (1996), earlier Live action remakes of The Jungle Book (1994, 1998) and Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland (2010). But it’s only since Maleficent have I noticed the Disney Studios pumping out a re-imagining every year. So far we have; Maleficent (2014), Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), Pete’s Dragon (2016) and the upcoming; Beauty and The Beast (2017). That’s 5 adaptations of Walt Disney Animated films in 4 years, not to mention the upcoming titles that also follow this pattern. So far we have; Mulan (2018), Cruella (TBA), Dumbo (TBA), Peter Pan (TBA) Pinocchio (TBA), The Sword In The Stone (TBA), Tink (TBA), Christopher Robin (TBA), The Little Mermaid (TBA), The Lion King (TBA), Aladdin (TBA) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (TBA) AND MORE. I don’t know about you but I sense that something may have started making money for the mouse house.
My issue with this, is simple; Disney are making money off of nostalgia and we as humans (myself included) are suckers for it! But they aren’t the only studio doing this, A lot of the big film studios in Hollywood are using this tactic to their advantage (although both owned by The Walt Disney Company). Look at Marvel and Lucasfilm; How many Star Wars films were released after the first trilogy? How many times am I going to have to watch Uncle Ben get shot in Spider-Man? And it’s not even limited to Disney owned studios, We also have studios making films based on toys and tv shows that were successful back in the day, eg; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Power Rangers, Jem and the Holograms, My Little Pony, etc. There’s even a Barbie film in the works as we speak. Therefore it would be unfair for me to say that Disney were the only culprit in this argument.
Back to Disney for a second, Another problem I have with these remakes is the fact The Jungle Book, Dumbo and The Lion King are being classed as live action remakes. Last time I checked, animals couldn’t talk. I also imagine it’s pretty tricky to train a bear to let a small boy sit on his stomach and ride him down the river, I assume they’d need a lot of insurance to cover that kind of film. So obviously (even more obviously if you’ve seen Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book) the animals in The Jungle Book - who are also the main characters - are made up of CGI and it was filmed on two sound stages in LA, not on location… in the jungle. So the characters (with the exception of Mowgli, of course) and the sets are animated and I imagine as Jon Favreau is set to direct the live action remake of The Lion King -the film that has no human characters in whatsoever- the animals will also be made up of CGI so is it even fair to call this a live action remake? Let’s now look at Pete’s Dragon, I actually really enjoyed this film so don’t think I hate everything that isn’t animated! Maybe I’m too young to know this as I was born 19 years too late for the original film but is there much to it? I mean, there were a few classic Disney films released in the 70’s eg: The Rescuers, The Aristocats and Robin Hood but I don’t remember hearing as much about Pete’s Dragon as I did the others? So that made me think, why remake something that isn’t that popular? then I realised that you can probably do something like Pete’s Dragon better 39 years later, it’s just the timing of it’s release that made it seem a bit of a cash grab to me at first. However again, can this even be classed as a live action remake? As the original film was the same as the remake in the fact that it had live action sets and cast apart from the huge animated dragon!? I’m starting to lose track.
To conclude then; I think Disney have found what’s making them a success in today's Hollywood market, seeing as their animation studio are still releasing new, original content, they can probably afford to keep re-releasing for the time being, who knows! Maybe in 20 years we’ll have a Moana live action remake with a 66 year old Dwayne Johnson physically acting as Maui (If this actually happens, I want royalties Disney!). I’m just a little disappointed that I’m falling for it every time, like I said earlier in this piece; I make a big deal about how we’re falling for the nostalgia but here I am in the cinema watching all of them! I just think it’s a little excessive to release a new-old film every year, sometimes twice a year. Perhaps this trend will end in a few years and Disney will have a series of new films being released one after the other? only time will tell.
Ps. is anyone else weirdly excited to see how Ewan McGregor will act as a CANDLE in Beauty and The Beast? Totally the only reason I plan on seeing it, not because I’m a slave to nostalgia.