Disney is not new to the remake game. In 1996, it remade its animated classic, 101 Dalmations, into a live action movie starring Glenn Close, making over $300 million and spawning a sequel. With its success, it’s surprising that it took until the 2010s for Disney to get serious remaking its animated movies. Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, and Cinderella cleaned up at the box office, and with their success, more animated to live action remakes have been announced.
Among the yet to be released live action remakes, the Beauty and the Beast remake, shows the most promise. Set to be released in 2017, the movie already has a stellar cast, with Emma Watson as Belle.
Also promising is the upcoming Jungle Book remake, the third live action version which Disney has produced. Not only will the movie feature the talents of Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, and Scarlett Johansson, to name a few, but new music will be produced for the movie by the original songwriter of the animated classic. The movie is set to be released next April.
Other movies are too early in the process to do more than speculate about. A live action Mulan is in development, and seems like it could translate well to the big screen, especially given there’s only one talking animal. It will be interesting to see where the filmmakers take it. With the amount of action in the original, it could end up being similar to another Disney property, Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pinocchio is also in early stages of development, which would be the second time Disney remade it as a live action movie, the first time for television. A little more is known about the Peter Pan spinoff, Tink, which has a leading lady attached to the project, Reese Witherspoon.
Of all the live action remakes planned, the two that seem most problematic are Dumbo and Winnie the Pooh. With both of the original movies being largely animal-centric, live action will certainly require CGI animals, which don’t always translate well with real environments. Additionally, the director currently attached to Dumbo is Tim Burton, who is best known for a dark, quirky style, a strange choice for the movie. Winnie the Pooh has had many different Disney incarnations, so a live action version was practically inevitable, but hardly seems necessary.
But then, none of the remakes can really be deemed “necessary.” The movies are all considered classics, movies which many of us grew up with. It would be hard to argue, for example, that Oscar nominee for Best Picture Beauty and the Beast needs a new version. Dumbo is, at least, over 70 years old without any remakes or sequels, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the movies. Even the newest of the movies, Mulan, has a direct to video sequel, and Mulan is less than 20 years old.
But perhaps that’s the point. Enough people have wanted more in order for Disney to keep pumping out the various sequels and remakes, and Disney is now simply providing them. This can be seen as an expansion of a much-loved universe, rather than a disgraceful stomping on the memory of the old classics.
Movies like the Cinderella remake prove that there is an eager audience, and if you’re that audience, you have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming years.