In the world of cinema, sequels and remakes of popular films are now more common than ever. Some consumers applaud it and come wanting more, while others think of it as a quick and cheap way to make money.
The world famous Walt Disney Pictures has jumped onto this bandwagon, having already remade “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” and the recent “Beauty and the Beast” from animated classics into live action films. According to SCNow, the company already plans on continuing this series, with at least 12 new live action remakes, such as “Mulan” and “The Lion King” already in the works. But the question is: should they?
Disney films play a huge part in the childhoods of past and even future generations. Their films are often what many children are first exposed to.
From Disney’s first hit “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937 to “The Lion King” in 1994, the company has a fierce and strong pedigree that has stuck with many children all the way into adulthood and passed onto their children like a sacred tradition. But why change tradition by remaking these films into live action retellings?
The saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” strongly applies here, as many of these Disney films have been revered for their characters, the actors’ performances, their musical scores, and mastery of animation. While a reimagining of Disney’s films in a realistic setting isn’t a crime, the purpose is debatable.
Due to Disney’s typical fantasy stories, a large amount of CG animation is being produced anyway. This is especially the case for “The Lion King,” a story with no human characters that would simply utilize CG animals with unnatural lip movements. It seems pointless to remake animation with more animation in a “live action” film.
On the other hand, some Disney films could benefit from being brought to life, such as “Mulan” being based on the Chinese legend. At the same time, certain liberties made by directors can still ruin these films for those who enjoyed the originals. Evening Standard reported that not only would Mulan’s companion Li Shang be replaced by another character, but the film could also potentially cut its memorable songs, such as “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”
Many are torn by the idea of these remakes distancing too far from their childhoods, but following them too closely could be a problem itself. Independent noted that while the live action “Beauty and the Beast” remake was widely well received, its biggest criticism was following the original too closely. If these live action films have any potential strength, it could be changing past films for the better—such as the controversial “Pocahontas” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
The question still stands: Why should Disney bother to bring their already loved animated hallmarks to life? The obvious answer is money. According to Deadline, as of Mar. 30, the recent “Beauty and the Beast” has already grossed $751.1 million internationally. With several more films to come and utilizing popular actors, such as Emma Watson, Disney is sure to bring in huge earnings with so many big names in a single package.
At the same time, this isn’t the first time Disney has attempted live action remakes. In 1996, “101 Dalmatians” starred popular actors, like Glenn Close and Hugh Laurie. The remake was successful enough to even spawn its own sequel, “102 Dalmatians” in the year 2000.
It’s ironic to see a company founded upon and known for its stellar animation to be relying on live action remakes for massive amounts of profit. The idea itself seems ultimately pointless when Disney has already made it big with their stories and characters in the past and continues to do so with recent hits, like “Frozen” and “Moana.”
However, nostalgia is undoubtedly an easy way to persuade and attract customers. Only time will determine whether Disney’s efforts in these new live action remakes will become tradition for families in the future or be overshadowed by their original counterparts.