So here's how it usually works these days Hollywood. A formula working well at the box-office? Well, how about we just recycle it again and again and again ... And once that idea stalls then how about we bank on the nostalgia of the original and reboot it into a whole new package. Disney's caught on to this like real pros with their juggernaut franchises, in fact, that's all they seem to be doing — Marvel, Star Wars, animation etc. not a single original thought conceived, they have to stick with what people already know, what people are comfortable with, what doesn't provoke new thoughts. It's all really a big fat brainwash if you ask me.
A particular trend for them the is the live-action remake of animated classics. This is what I'm going to focus on here. These are the box-office powerhouses they've created thus far via live-action:
Alice in Wonderland $334 Million
Cinderella $201 Million
The Jungle Book $364 Million
Beauty and the Beast $504 Million
This past Friday Disney unveiled the teaser for the upcoming live-action 'Lion King' which looks like a shot-for-shot remake of the original, only this time, instead of animation, presented to us in CGI.
Let's line-up 16 upcoming live-action Disney remakes that have been greenlit: "Beauty and the Beast," "101 Dalmatians," "Sleeping Beauty," "The Jungle Book 2," "Peter Pan," "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," "Mulan," "Dumbo," "Sword in the Stone," "Winnie The Pooh," "Snow White," and "Tinker Bell."
All of these are coming out within the next 5 years. That's a deluge of films. These are safe, and cozy projects for the mouse house because they are banking on what is most popular at the multiplex these days: Nostalgia.
There is absolutely no conceivable way that these live-action remakes can artistically surpass the original animated classics. Why? Because Disney wouldn't take the risk of messing with the original formula — audiences want what they already know, that's the sad truth. And so, with these live-action remakes, Disney are, by all accounts, going for shot-for-shot duplicates, the only difference? They are done in CGI instead of hand drawn animation.
Forbes' Dani Di Placido has written a piece on the disturbing trend of live-action remakes from Disney and how it's hampered down any kind of creativity from not just them but their competitors.
So, why is Disney watering down their most iconic stories by rebooting them in “live action?”
The answer is pretty obvious; reselling old stories with a new, shiny coat of CGI is an immensely profitable activity. The film industry is rife with immense financial risk; it doesn’t take many box-office flops to bankrupt even a major production company, and the surest way to stay in profit is to stick to familiarity.
As much as we complain about Hollywood’s lack of original ideas, we want to see reboots; or at least, the majority do. The film industry is a democracy, and we all vote with cinema tickets. We seem to want to take a trip back into childhood, however brief, and see our memories reconstructed in glossy photorealism.
But photorealism is not inherently superior to 2D animation; those old Disney animators didn’t draw cartoon lions as a backup plan because they couldn’t train an animal to say lines. They chose that medium to tell a beautiful, stylized story, a story that resonated with children and adults alike.”
He goes on to say:
“But that isn’t even close to what’s on offer; there was little originality added to The Jungle Book, or Beauty and the Beast, and the trailer for The Lion King looks almost like a shot-for-shot remake — take a look at this comparison video, and see the difference between remake and reboot.”
But the thing about photorealism, even the most expensive, jaw-dropping effort, is that it is doomed to age terribly. There’s nothing that can be done to remedy this — we’re always going to get better at spotting fakery, especially if it is trying to look indistinguishable from reality, and the immensely talented folk who work in the special effects industry are always being pushed to innovate.
Disney should tread carefully; there’s only so much you can squeeze iconic, beloved stories before they start to fall apart; just look what happened to Solo: A Star Wars Story.