Disney remakes unnecessary, capitalize on nostalgia

September 16, 2019 — by Sofia Jones

Nowadays, it feels as if only live-action remakes of classic Disney movies are coming out instead of original content. 

Disney has now released 13 live-action remakes. “Mulan,” coming out in March 2020, will be the 14th. There are also many more announced for the future, such as “Lady and the Tramp,” “Cruella” and “The Little Mermaid.” 

As more and more remakes come out, Disney receives more criticism for being unoriginal and ruining the source material. In an attempt to be inventive and creative, some remakes put a twist on a classic story, such as “Dumbo,” in which the live-action version focuses more on the lives of the humans who imprisoned Dumbo rather than the long-beloved tale of the elephant’s woes. 

As Disney seemingly runs out of ideas, it attempts to pull easy money out of old, nostalgic classics. Regardless of how little effort is put into staying true to the essence and charm of  their original movies, Disney knows that live action films will draw a large audience from those who want to relive the movies they loved as a kid. 

Since cartoons are stigmatized as kids-only, transforming classics into live-action formats draws in a large crowd of diverse ages ⁠— kids watch for the fun plot and adults watch for the familiar story being portrayed in a more socially acceptable format for older viewers. 

Because there is a low chance of a remake flopping in the box office, live-action remakes are a more preferable business move than a riskier original movie. Even “Dumbo,” which is considered by many general watchers to be a failure among remakes, pulled in almost $400 million. 

In some cases, the transition to live-action makes sense. When a story is centered around humans, it can be interesting to see the story’s characters transformed into real people. For example, although  both “Cinderella” and “Aladdin” have supernatural elements, the setting still feels mostly realistic and is captured well by live-action.

But as evidenced by the most recent remake “The Lion King,” there isn’t truly a “live” aspect, due to the film’s cast being all animals. Because the characters are all photorealistic CGI, “The Lion King” is essentially another animated movie, but not as good. The attempt at animated realism for the animals doesn’t quite take, which downplays strong emotional scenes such as Mufasa’s death. 

Disney isn’t likely to stop these bankable remakes anytime soon. In order for a remake to be successful, heart and soul must be put into maintaining the essence of a film, rather than settling for a soulless cash-grab. Unless a CGI lion is the star of the film. In which case, maybe reconsider making the film at all.  

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