Disney moves toward live-action remakes

Devon Yoder
Staff Writer

For nearly a century, Walt Disney Animation Studios has remained on top of the animation industry. Starting with their hit 1937 film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the studio has created a large number of successful animated films, which have received an amount of awards that have yet to be matched by any other animation studio. Their animation is considered timeless by many, and have been cherished by fans for generations.

In recent years, Disney has switched from their hand-drawn animation, and continued to make computer animated films. Their last traditionally animated film, “Winnie the Pooh,” was released over a decade ago, and since then, they have focused primarily on computer animated films. However, they still acknowledged the existence of their previous animated films, but not in a way most people were expecting.

In 2010, Disney released “Alice in Wonderland” in theatres. However, this version of the classic 1951 animated film was quite different from its predecessor, in that it wasn’t animated. This was the beginning of a new series of films Disney would continue to release throughout the years, in which they would take some of their most well-known animated films, and remake them into live-action adaptations.

This trend may have started in 2010, but Disney did have some prior experience with this concept. In 1994, they released their first live-action remake, “Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.” However, it was their second live-action remake, “101 Dalmatians,” that was a success, earning $320.7 million worldwide in the box office.

After the success of “Alice in Wonderland,” Disney began releasing more live-action remakes. At the moment, there have been 16 live-action remakes released, 14 of which have been released over the past 11 years. Of those 14, four of them have reached the top 50 highest-grossing films of all time, with “The Lion King” reaching number seven overall.

These live-action remakes usually follow a similar storyline to their animated counterparts. However, there are some exceptions. One example of this is “Dumbo,” a live-action remake of the classic 1941 film of the same name. This film initially follows a similar storyline, but takes a completely different turn for the second half of the film.

“I liked ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” sophomore Alison Shaw said. “I thought they kept really similar to the original animated versions while having their own touches, like Jasmine getting her own song in ‘Aladdin.’”

Some recent live-action remakes take completely different approaches to the original story. One big example of this is “Maleficent,” which is loosely based off of “Sleeping Beauty.” While the original film focused primarily on the protagonists, “Maleficent” focuses on the main antagonist, Maleficent, showing how she came to be.

While there are live-action remakes that change the storyline from what it was originally, there are some that do the exact opposite. For instance, “The Lion King” received negative reviews due to the fact that it was a simple retelling of the original story, with subjectively worse-looking character designs. People also claim that some of these films don’t capture the same feeling that made the originals so iconic.

“‘Aladdin’ was a great movie,” senior Sergio Copado said. “The actors’ energy and visuals were all great, but I don’t think it was about to pass the original. The less menacing Jafar may have played a part in that.”

Some live-action remakes have even been considered controversial following their releases. One infamous example is the live-action remake of “Mulan.” The star actress of the film gathered criticism after showing her controversial opinion on a political issue at the time. Along with this, part of the movie was also filmed in a region where mass internment camps once were. These issues led many people to boycott “Mulan.”

There isn’t an end in sight for these live-action remakes. There are multiple remakes planned to be released in the future. “Cruella” will be the first upcoming remake to be released, as it’s planned to hit theaters on May 28. Similar to “Maleficent,” This live-action remake will focus on the origin story of the “101 Dalmations” antagonist, Cruella de Vil.

Besides that, there are also remakes of films such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Hercules,” “Lilo & Stitch,” and even “Bambi” that are set to be released in theaters and on Disney+. Whether or not these films will deviate from their animated counterparts is currently unknown. However, due to the cultural impact these animated films had when they were first released, their live-action counterparts are sure to be just as successful as the majority of their previous work.

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