With Disney rolling out its planned movies for the 2020’s, it’s hard to miss the fact that most of their upcoming works are remakes, reboots, or derivatives of old works. What’s going on?
I mean, seriously, what’s not to like?!
This has been in the works for the longest time, though. Disney always knew that the classics they’ve made are ripe for a revival. After all, they need to constantly update their repertoire if they’re going to be brainwashing enticing a new generation of fans to love and appreciate them, and what better way than to create live-action remakes!
But the trick has always been recreating the magic of the originals, and so far, Disney has yet to perfect it: Maleficent missed the mark with its questionable interpretations of the classic, while Favreau’s The Jungle Book not only hitting the mark but elevating it to a whole new level, with most of the original characters getting augmented with character motivations, properly developed story arcs, and the like. Beauty and the Beast, on the other hand, lies somewhere in the middle for me, with more hits than misses, but far from the Jungle Book’s success. While it was amazing seeing some of my favorite childhood characters up on screen, the film as a whole was a touch to dark for me, but that’s just personal preference!
Overall though, with Disney’s entire catalogue available to whichever director is up to the challenge, it’s a wise move to update their aging movies and constantly remain relevant to an increasingly digitized and modernized youth. It’s up to Disney, however, to find that old magic formula and start recreating the dream-like fantasies of days gone by.
Ok so, there are some thing not to like about this.
Hollywood today is rife with reboots and remakes, with many a studio making very big bucks from rehashing old franchises and adding shiny, new graphics.
And that’s the problem facing Disney and their remakes: how do you take tales as old as time and make it fresh, new, outstanding, relevant, and most importantly, magical?Most of the Disney Classic’s charm stems from its unique, hand-drawn animations. And before you decry that previous statement as some kind of Luddite rebuke of CGI, the original Beauty and the Beast’s hand-drawn style was so amazing that it received an Academy Award nomination for BEST PICTURE. Not best animation, best PICTURE. A cartoon geared towards children shared the same podium as Silence of the Lambs and The Prince of Tides, let that sink in.
The live adaptation of Beauty and the Beast didn’t seem to have the same fantastic, dream-like quality of the original, but it held its own and is a notable film in and of itself. But other than offering audiences a peek at what a real-life Belle would look like, it was essentially the same exact movie, with the same exact songs and the same exact plot. Sure, liberties were taken here and there, but at the end of it, Beauty and the Beast and all the other planned remakes just feels like a studio cashing in on the Nostalgia trend.
Woooh boy, where to start…
Ok, let’s start by listing down the remakes and reboots that Disney is currently working on, planned out, or scheduled for release. Note that this list is not exhaustive, and it WILL change, most likely because they’ll be adding more to it:
The Little Mermaid, Mulan, The Lion King, Dumbo, Aladdin, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and The Sword in the Stone. This does NOT include derivative films and spin-offs like Prince Charming or Cruella.
Sounds like a lot? Well, that’s only the beginning (cue ominous music).
Aside from the ridiculously obscene amounts of money Disney is going to make PER film (estimates are in the high hundreds of millions), the studio also has another, more pressing reason for all these films. Two words: Intellectual property.
Intellectual property is one of the major drivers of Disney’s profits. It’s basically any story, whether in book or script or any other form, that companies have the exclusive right to reproduce. Disney owns a LOT of IP’s, and they can produce as many versions of a particular story, while simultaneously blocking other people from copying or infringing on their intellectual property.
Just to give you an idea of how serious Disney is with acquiring and protecting its IP: the past decade saw Disney invest Billions of dollars to acquire the IP rights to extremely lucrative franchises like LucasFilms, Pixar, and Marvel. And while it tries its best to protect its family-friendly image, back in 1989, it once tried to sue three daycare centers for alleged IP violations (the day care centers had life-size paintings of a few Disney characters). While there were valid reasons for Disney to threaten legal action, it certainly did not do well for their PR.
But why spend millions, even billions, of dollars buying up existing and established franchises, not to mention spending on remakes and reboots? Simple: nostalgia makes money. Specifically, in an age where people are less adventurous with their choice of activity (imagine going out to dinner without *gasp* checking a restaurant’s Yelp review), people would rather spend on a franchise that they already know and love.
With skyrocketing movie theater ticket prices, it pays well to stay on the safe side. As of 2018, movie theaters charged, on average, $9.27 a ticket. 10 years ago, in 2008, that same ticket was $7.18. Go back a decade more and you’re looking at spending $4.69 to watch Saving Private Ryan on its opening weekend. Analysts say that this trend will only continue, so why not play it safe and make movies about characters and stories that people are already familiar with? Why gamble with a new thing when the old ones work so well?
The Happiest Studio on Earth
At the end of the day, these Disney remakes are going to bring a huge smile on people’s faces. It’s guaranteed, not just because it’s DISNEY (I mean, c’mon!), but also because the studio is going to pour in as much money as it can to make sure it goes as perfectly as possible. With more and more franchises falling to the Mouse’s will, it won’t be long until Disney creates a virtual monopoly on silver screen happiness.
But hey, as long as I get my movie fix.