Is Disney producing too many live-action remakes?

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According to a September 18th article on Insider, “Disney is planning 18 more live-action movies of its animated classics.” Eighteen! Among the remakes is the upcoming Beauty and the Beast, scheduled to open on March 17th. With universally-loved actress Emma Watson playing the female lead Belle, the film is almost a guaranteed success.

Live-action versions of Lion King and Aladdin stick out as well while reading the list. The Aladdin “remake” will actually be a prequel focusing on Genie, with the possibility of the original Aladdin being remade later on.

A couple of the other Disney revivals, such as The Sword in the Stone and 101 Dalmations, are either prequels or sequels, which at least gives those movies new stories as opposed to relying on the original scripts.

Still, Disney seems to be counting on the past too much, right?

While it is a given a number of fans are excited, some Disney followers are not as pleased.

“Oh boy…… When will you (Disney) guys release more original movies? A couple of live action versions of the classics are fine… But now it’s just getting old. Try writing scripts for new stories instead of re-doing old ones and beating a dead horse,” one Facebook user wrote underneath an Aladdin-related post.

The problem pointed out above is the same seen for many longtime video game franchises. Once a video game proves a blockbuster hit, the company behind it is eager to revisit the same franchise over and over again.

At a certain point, the franchise loses its uniqueness and fans are not excited anymore (ex. Call of Duty).

Companies can create entirely fresh characters in a new world, but the risk of failure is present. Hence, Disney is going back to their old, safe classics by repackaging them, and the strategy may work for a while.

Those movies were made with animation in mind though. Will they translate well to a live-action format?

“ … taking a character from a hand-drawn animation and converting them to 3D often results in bizarre and unappealing design,” Dani Di Placido of Forbes wrote.

Do adults really want to see CGI versions of Cogsworth and Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast? Will they come off as scary to children? Will the new models for the characters have a lasting appeal?

Placido added, “The Jungle Book looked spectacular in the cinema, as will The Lion King, undoubtedly. But in ten years, will either be worth rewatching? Or even five?”

These are interesting questions to ask, as original Disney Classics tend to stick around forever.

Also, what happened to trying new scenarios and challenging gender roles? A lot of older Disney classics feature a male saving a princess, or some other variation of the same. Those kind of movies do not need their endings retooled, but again, Disney could be focusing on new stories and characters appropriate for the current world.

Lastly, there is also a concern about replacing iconic voice actors such as Robin Williams (who played Genie).

Another user on the same Facebook link wrote, “I will never look at another ‘Aladdin’ the same way again after the passing of Robin Williams. If Disney wanted to honor his legacy, they would leave well enough alone.”

His comment is reminiscent of the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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  • Achirae

    You know, I’ve said for a long time that Disney needs more genuine creativity. Until only recently, all their biggest hits have been either bastardized versions of well-known fairy tales and folk stories, or have come from Pixar. Very rarely do we see anything new and original from them. And now that they’ve acquired Marvel and Star Wars, they can coast along even more lazily.

    Live-Action adaptations are hit-or-miss. Maleficent? Fantastic! Cinderella? Less-than-meh. Beauty and the Beast? All signs pointing to fabulous!

    Pre-Aladdin Genie prequel? Without Robin Williams, don’t even bother trying.

    For a company whose stock-in-trade is Imagination, Disney is sorely lacking in any of their own.