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Why Disney keeps remaking animated classics as live-action films

Reza Mardian
Reza Mardian

Film enthusiast

Jakarta  /  Tue, May 28, 2019  /  02:44 pm
Why Disney keeps remaking animated classics as live-action films

Magical ride: The live-action 'Aladdin' is adapted from the 1992 animated movie of the same name. (Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/-)

While the critic's consensus of Disney's live action's Aladdin (2019) is not exactly shining, shimmering and splendid, it is without a doubt that Disney did a very good job retelling the 1992 animated classic to the modern era, catering both to fans raised in the 1990s and young audiences unfamiliar with 2D animation.

If you're a Disney freak like me, you know that Aladdin won't be the only animated classic made into a live-action film this year. This July, you will be seeing The Lion King on the big screen and later in October, Angeline Jolie returns as a misunderstood fairy in the sequel to Maleficent (2014).

In March 2020, a live-action retelling of the 1998's classic Mulan will hit theaters worldwide. Any child raised by Disney films – like I was – would think that this is a great time to be alive. Right?

But the cynic in all of us can’t help but wonder why a big-budget studio like Walt Disney Pictures would choose to reboot its animated classics or create more sequels (Mary Poppins Returns and Frozen 2) rather than come out with a brand-new story? 

This year alone, we’re getting the live-action versions of Dumbo and Aladdin and The Lion King, the fourth installment of Toy Story, the sequel of Frozen as well as Maleficent. Is creativity in the studio dying? 

Judging by critics’ ratings of the last three live-action endeavors Disney on Rotten Tomatoes, (Beauty and The BeastDumbo, and Aladdin), it seems that the powerful studio has been unable to wow audiences. Among those films, Beauty and the Beast has the highest score with a 70 percent rating.

Read also: Disney's live-action 'Aladdin' casts a box-office spell

So, why more live actions? 

1. The money

Let's face it: Walt Disney Picture is all about generating more revenue. Even though it did not manage to captivate critics, it still managed to captivate the audience's hearts. And that is more than enough if the studio was only concerned about revenue and customer satisfaction. After all, films are not made to entertain critics; it's all about creating an ultimate cinematic experience for casual moviegoers. And as long as they're entertained with new interpretations of beloved stories, why stop making live-action films?

2. Inclusion

When you spent your entire childhood dancing and singing along to these characters, it's beyond magical to see them again when you're an adult and are the same age as them. I guess that's one of the few magical effects of movies. Not to mention, Aladdin's South Asian cast is also a strong statement for the world. I guess this is also the reason why Disney wants Mulan to have an all Asian cast.

But if Disney was really concerned about inclusion and portraying more diversity, it should travel more and explore more cultures. Coco (2017) and Moana (2016) are two good examples. Let's hope they're not the only ones and Disney is bringing more diverse stories to be told.

3. It’s just a phase

This might be the most far-fetched theory so far, but I'm a believer that the magic in Disney is far from dead. I'm suspecting that the reason why it keeps making these live-action films and sequels is that it’s planning something bigger. (wng)


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.