I grew up with an extensive VHS Disney collection; it was my first library. As an adult, I am able to recognize all the racism and innuendos but it’s hard not to still wish upon a star or live by the problem free philosophy. Despite the terror of an old lady giving you poison apples and a mad lady putting you in a coma, there was the enchanting notion of being a princess and having a tiger for a pet. The dark storylines juxtaposed with the happy songs make for instant classics.
A couple years ago, Disney released Maleficent which, if you think about it, was the first in the trend. While not an exact retelling of the animated film, it gave us more context on the protagonist Aurora faces in Sleeping Beauty. More of an origins story, Maleficent starred Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning and grossed $758 million worldwide.
When the live action announcement of Cinderella came, I was skeptical. Not everything needs a remake. However, I was pleasantly surprised after I came out of the theater. Not only did I only have minor critiques (see said critiques here) but I actually found it enjoyable. The movie did really well in both domestic and foreign markets garnering a total of $543 million dollars. Shortly after this success Disney announced their plans to bring another title to the live action big screen.
The Jungle Book seemed like such a huge undertaking that I was sure this time they wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Talking animals are usually pretty cringe worthy. But as the news of the cast steadily rolled in over the next year or so, I started to wonder if there was something to it. Surely all of these amazing actors wouldn’t attach themselves to the project if it were hokey. Man was I wrong. The Jungle Book was the best of the remakes yet and grossed just shy of a billion dollars worldwide!
This added an insane amount of fuel to the fire that has become live action. After The Jungle Book’s massive success Disney announced plans for a whole slew of titles to be released over the next five years and a slew if definitely not an exaggeration.First, Beauty and the Beast will come to theaters. This is being hyped beyond belief with nothing but stills and a few seconds long teaser released so far, with Emma Watson playing Belle. Then, Cruella is getting her own film and so is Tinker Bell. Dumbo is getting a new take from the mind of Tim Burton (I really don’t understand how this is going to happen but maybe this will be better than his Alice movies). And just this past weekend it was announced that Guy Ritchie will be at the helm of the Aladdin film. This is another stumper in that Genie is so heavily associated with Robbin Williams and the recreation this character is hard to imagine. Also this weekend it was announced that the script for The Lion King now has a confirmed writer. We can only hope that titles like Aladdin and Mulan won’t be whitewashed and will reflect their characters and cultures appropriately.
I really enjoy that my doubt has been proven wrong thus far but these are pretty lofty goals they are setting.