Live-Action Disney Remakes and the Souring Faith in Animation

Cinderella, The Lion King, and Mulan are only the icing on the cake when it comes to Disney’s plans.

Another day, another Disney hit smashes the box office, breaks records, and already becomes one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time. Of course, the film in question is The Lion King. 

But wait, are we sure this definition applies to the original Lion King, or its 2019 “live-action” remake? The numbers don’t seem to lie, the new movie is already approaching its older counterpart in terms of profit.

Only two weeks in and the remake almost successfully outperformed the original, a now 25-year old pop culture phenomenon.

So what does this say?

It is common knowledge that Disney, originally the face of Western animation, if not the entire medium, has been worryingly developing a monopoly in the twenty-first century. It bought Marvel a decade ago, and used that purchase to its advantage by continuing what would become the biggest cinematic universe of the 2010’s, if not in history. It then followed up by buying LucasFilms, taking Star Wars and, as many people forget, Indiana Jones, with them. Then they ended up buying Fox, meaning that the House of Mouse now has some of the random IP’s sitting in its archives, from Alien to The Simpsons to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia… They also bought The Muppets fifteen years ago, but no one seems to remember that, and that was always part of Jim Henson’s plan to begin with.

However, the predatory, financially-obsessed demeanour of the Disney corporation is starting to stretch to the company’s original bread and butter, the thing that made it such a powerful source of entertainment to begin with: animation.

This might seem confusing, since both of Disney’s main animation branches seem to have recovered from their respective dark ages; Pixar, despite making mostly sequels this decade, is back to making tons of money while receiving critical acclaim in the process. Walt Disney Animation Studios, after an awkward time with the 2000’s, released films such as Tangled, Wreck-it Ralph, and Frozen, cementing mainstream Disney animation as still being capable of entertaining audiences and warming their hearts.

So what’s the problem?

Disney decided to hop on two trains at once: the nostalgia train and the remake train…by making live-action versions of their beloved animated classics. Although these films tend to loosely follow the roots of the originals, and their reception tends to be mixed at best, they still manage to dominate theaters and attract all kinds of people.

The trend (barring a few made in the 90’s like 101 Dalmatians) started off relatively tame, with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland films, which weren’t really live action versions of the animated one Disney made in the fifties, but newer adaptations of Carroll’s work. Fair enough. Then Maleficent (yes, the Sleeping Beauty villainess) got her own movie. Then came Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Christopher Robin (the one sequel to the original movie among all those remakes), Aladdin, and now, we have an “updated” Lion King that is starring photorealistic CGI animals that is only considered “live-action” because the characters look like real animals!

It is safe to say that this will trend will spread to the next decade. Mulan and The Little Mermaid are next, and live-action remakes of Sword in the Stone, Lady and the Tramp, and Lilo & Stitch, of all films, are all in the works. And there are apparently more to come.

Ask yourself this: who asked for all of these? People love the animated films, it’s crystal clear, and they feel nostalgic towards them. But aside from potentially encountering content that has not aged well, such as the crows in Dumbo and the Westernization of Ancient Arabia in Aladdin, what really prevents nostalgic folks from watching the original films? These are some of the most famous and beloved animated films, and in some cases, films in general. Several of them have transcended their Disney family and spread their influence to pop culture as a whole. Even if their home video release is stuck in the Disney vault, they are still incredibly easy to find if you want to watch them.

Animation, especially after migrating to television, has struggled to be taken seriously as a way of artistic expression or a way of entertainment. It’s always simultaneously struggling to get out of the shadow of live action films, and attempting to break free from the stylistic hegemony established by industry giants that most certainly includes Disney, on top of constantly feeling the burden of being stigmatized as kiddie fodder. This will probably always a consistent challenge, considering even successes like Into the Spider-Verse apparently attract less people than the weakest live-action installments of their franchises. But what Disney is doing has some rather discouraging implications.

One does not need realism to provide nightmare fuel or general tensions.

Even if Disney undeniably targets kids with their movies and merchandising and has the reputation in some circles as being as cookie cutter and “sunshine and rainbows”-like as one can get with animated films, they have seldom shied away from harder topics to swallow. The Lion King blatantly shows its main antagonist actually live up to his evil gloating by committing fratricide. Pinocchio horrifically depicts a preteen boy losing his humanity and turning into a donkey in a recreation of the original book’s metaphor of being a “jackass” and lacking education. Lilo & Stitch stars a lonely little girl who is being raised by her big sister after their parents died, and is almost separated from her sister on more than one occasion.

Finding a reason why a character with this much promotion would need his movie to be remade is indeed quite tricky

The first of these films is the latest to be affected by the remake trend, and the other two will eventually be next on the chopping block unless they get cancelled. None of them need the live-action treatment to be appreciated. The Lion King ended up being an expansive franchise with great representation in the Disney Parks, a Broadway show, as well as a few television spinoffs. Pinocchio ended up critically acclaimed, and When You Wish Upon a Star was used for several Disney productions following its release. Lilo & Stitch ended up spawning countless direct-to-video sequels and TV shows, to the point where Stitch had merchandise on par with the original Mickey Mouse gang. All of them, proudly cartoony while being unafraid to show that their universe does have a darker side, were able to win the hearts of people worldwide. Many other Disney movies are in the same boat, and yet, the live-action versions keep on coming.

It’s getting increasingly tougher to justify the existence of the live-action Disney remakes. They cynically cash in on people’s nostalgia and address some complaints to calm the masses down (Dumbo and his mom leaving the circus for the wilderness, King Louie’s species changing, Prince Charming getting actual development, etc.). Even if some of these films do attempt to do things differently or simply readapt the original tale altogether, it is patently obvious that profit (which Disney does not need more of) is the reason they are being made, instead of anything artistic. They tend to be so average they don’t necessarily enrich one’s relationship with the original films or even the original tales said films adapted. They simply stand there, collecting money from people’s wallets, unsure if they will ever share a legacy with the originals. Will anyone actually fondly remember the alternate character interpretations in Maleficent’s movie, Will Smith’s take on the Genie, and Lefou turning his back on Gaston, in twenty years, or will their animated selves still reign supreme? Disney being able to openly remake so many of its animated classics on the fly, even a story without humans that kids still grow up with today like The Lion King, shows that the higher ups at Disney have no understanding for the medium that the company they are running has revolutionized and innovated in the past. All they can do is appeal to people’s basic instincts to return to their childhoods, even for a brief moment. Even just rereleasing the animated films, even if it would wind up being obnoxious, would at least show us that they still have a bit of faith in their animation, the roots of their success. They would also provide the actual nostalgia people crave, since these are the movies the public grew up with, after all.

Remakes are not necessarily bad, they can revive an IP that has been dormant for a while or fix something that has aged poorly. But in Disney’s case, they are simply exploitative of already very successful works and rarely take care of anything substantial in the original films that really needed to be fixed. Considering how touchy of a topic the fate of hand-drawn animation at Disney can be, this catalogue of films feels more like a series of taunts than anything else. Disney might as well push itself to the limit and remake Robin Hood with visuals resembling the recently released Cats trailer. After The Lion King, it’s obvious that anything is fair game for them.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Disney are simply masters of their craft. Whether it’s theme parks or motion pictures, they know how to engineer a hit and milk it for every dollar. Star Wars is a classic example. Some baulked at the multi billion dollar purchase at the time. But what they paid for was the Lucas database of the entire Star Wars universe, allowing them to ruthlessly exploit it using the Disney formula.

    • Particia

      Disney is the master of capitalism. The new Star Wars films aren’t a patch on the originals, irrespective of what the mindless neolib sheep might think, but they are a billion dollar amassing product.

      There’s also a fundamental hypocrisy in the way a studio founded by a union-busting anti-Semite tries so strenuously to paint itself as paragons of progressive virtue.

      • It doesn’t have to be a patch, people will pay for “safe” films of the franchises they recognise. It’s works more effectively than actors/directors of names we recognise. You get a tonne more free marketing/hype from fans and the media.

        An average original idea bomb whilst an average rehash are bankers.

      • I hate Walt Disney for calling his former employees Communists indiscriminately as much as anybody and I hate how he abused the courts to keep Lou Bunin’s Alice in Wonderland from a US release but he was not an anti-Semite. That’s a lie which has been spread most notably by Neal Gabler. Why the WDC lets their officially endorsed biographer spread these kinds of lies is beyond me but it’s not true. I don’t watch Disney content anymore but I want people who would despise the corporation to do so for real reasons.

    • Carline

      I would say that Star Wars is the worst example . They paid £4bn for both SW and Marvel – which has done the best so far ?

  2. 2025 – Buys Sony
    2032 – People hopeful of a decent fantastic four movie.
    2040 – Buys rest of rivals
    2050 – People hopeful of a decent fantastic four movie
    2070 – Buys US Government
    2080 – Declares war on mars
    2090 – People hopeful of a decent fantastic four movie.
    2120 – All Hail our World Overlord Micky Mouse
    3345 – People hopeful of a decent fantastic four movie.

  3. We all know how the films end because they won’t deviate form the ‘Disneyfied’ versions.

  4. Good piece. On a separate note. Has Mickey Mouse ever been brought to life on the big screen?

  5. The Sword in the Stone is a great story and certainly worthy of a live action adaptation. And having said THAT, ones imagination and a good book provides the best animation of all.

    • But who will play Gurgi? Warwick Davis in a fuzzy suit? Andy Serkis via mo-cap?

  6. Why can’t Disney leave our classic children’s stories alone?

    • Who is the “our” (Pinocchio is originally an Italian story) and frankly, Disney’s early works particularly did a spectacularly good job on stuff like Dumbo and Snow White? How many of you ever heard of Dumbo before Disney did it? How many of you have actually READ Barrie’s great masterpiece, Peter Pan?

      The generation of kids we have today wouldn’t touch the stuff: it’s not “multicultural” enough. The Darling kids and Alice and Snow White look way too white for them, and what’s more, they all no matter what colour have the attention spans of gnats these days. Leave them alone? They ARE alone: no one is reading them anymore. How about “Kidnapped” or “Treasure Island” or the Nesbit books: you think kids today are actually reading these?! They aren’t.

      • Garnett

        I’ve read Peter Pan and seen several faithful adaptations on stage. Have you read the original Grimm and other fairy stories? European fairy stories are evil. Much better than any sickly Disney versions.

  7. Amyus

    A well written article and you’ve presented your arguments clearly. I confess I’m not a fan of Disney at all, although I did grow up watching some of the earlier films (from the 1960s) – back when they were still imaginative and, for the most part, innocent. Disney is now involved with so many aspects of our daily lives (finance, banking, real estate, film, television, theatre, news channels, shipping, consumer goods, park land ‘management’, publishing, music, radio, nursery school education etc – the list is almost endless) that we are in danger of moving into an era of ‘The World According to Disney’. Still, if that’s what the programmed masses want….

  8. Given how so many of Disney’s traditional Hollywood rivals like Paramount, Sony and MGM continue to lose market share as less people go to the cinema and more people stay home to watch Netflix and its ilk, directors at Disney are not going to stop to think about any this stuff.

    Rupert Murdoch and his shareholders agreed to sell Fox to Disney as a matter of survival: there is too much inter-studio competition for the present state of cinema, and studios really need to be able to prioritise competition from external threats instead. Takeovers, mergers and consolidations of resources therefore make a lot of sense.

    Ultimately the powers that be at Disney will be super conscious of how traditional rivals are struggling financially, and therefore will just be chuffed that their strategy of remakes, buying out other studios and rejuvenating old their old franchises is working and they are continuing to make a lot of money.

    The last thing they are going to do is pause to have a think about whether or not what they are doing is artistically justifiable.

  9. Given how so many of Disney’s traditional Hollywood rivals like Paramount, Sony and MGM continue to lose market share as less people go to the cinema and more people stay home to watch Netflix and its ilk, directors at Disney are not going to stop to think about any this stuff.

    Rupert Murdoch and his shareholders agreed to sell Fox to Disney as a matter of survival: there is too much inter-studio competition for the present state of cinema, and studios really need to be able to prioritise competition from external threats instead. Takeovers, mergers and consolidations of resources therefore make a lot of sense.

    Ultimately the powers that be at Disney will be super conscious of how traditional rivals are struggling financially, and therefore will just be chuffed that their strategy of remakes, buying out other studios and rejuvenating old their old franchises is working, and they are continuing to make a lot of money.

    The last thing they are going to do is pause to have a think about whether or not what they are doing is artistically justifiable.

  10. Those earlier Disney animation classics were masterpieces of the art form, and were accompanied by high quality musical scores, as well.

    I went once to see an exhibition of original cells from Bambi and Snow White and couldn’t believe the quality: they looked like fucking Monets and they were all done by hand. The computer generated shite we have now bears no comparison. I’ve heard animators talk about what Disney’s artists achieved in films like Pinocchio: Gepetto’s nightgown going transparent when he dances in front of the fireplace then going opaque again as he moves away from it, stuff you’d never think to notice if you hadn’t talked to animators, who as a class are still in awe of what Disney’s studios produced by fucking hand, every last cell.

    Neither the live-action or computer animated shite ever does the original works of literature justice, either. Why can’t they think up something new and stop piggy-backing onto and ruining great work of the past?!

  11. Mulan is the most interesting in my opinion. Would love to see some great fight sequences and real-life landscapes. It could really be set apart from the other live-action remakes just as a straight (non-magic, less CGI) movie.

    • Why not just watch one of the many Chinese made Mulan movies instead of waiting for a Western company to remake and retell it for a Western audience?

  12. Disney movies are now singularly unoriginal. Audiences are growing bored and fatigued. In the 90s they did reboots, now they seem to be doing rehashes of reboots.

  13. Disney makes the most boring, formulaic films I have ever seen. Yes, occasionally 1 stands out – more than likely a Pixar film. And look what a mess they’ve made of the Star Wars series – Disneyfied and dreadful. But in general there are no surprises… just what’s expected in glorious color. They are the McDonalds of movies.

    • Thi Putnam

      They’re not as creative or as innovative as the Prequels, I’ll give you that. You must be a huge Jar Jar fan.

  14. And what made Disney great? Inventiveness, originality, creativity… These so called ‘remakes’ contain none of that. The curious thing is though that in their so called modern ‘animations’ – and Frozen is a good example – the computer gurus were trumpeting their triumphs in making the animation look ‘real’. There are so many of these modern animations that strive so much for reality, it makes me think, well why didn’t they make them as live action in the first place?

    My only solace is that the originals are still there and stand out in a world of remake and imitation. No-one, for example, will re do The Jungle Book anything like the original.

    Looks like we’re looking for an independent studio to pick up the mantle of animation to breath new life into the genre

    • Earlene

      I was very impressed by Tangled. From an animation viewpoint, I think Tangled surpassed Frozen.

      What drives the reality aspect is the hope studios can replace people with computer generations. Less salary demand hassles, less buggy personality quirks to deal with.

  15. Sherill

    Well they have got todays teenagers well and truly hooked. Mine are Disney crazy. I think young people see an uncertain world around them and turn to the comfort of make believe.

    • That’s forever been the case with regards to kids. Also, the adults who are creating these stories. It could a human condition, to want to augment reality and be blissfully unaware.

    • I’d probably go to see that, although I’d expect them to be more involved with a Goonies remake.

  16. Studio Ghibli should get in on this game.

  17. Cassidy

    Let it go. Creativity doesn’t need to be frozen in the past. One summer all this harkening back to old hits will lead Disney to melt like a snowman that didn’t think things through.

  18. Jesse Wynn

    Disney may have been a businessman at heart, but that business was based on a faith in how to entertain. Now we simply have corporate America vs the consumer, and success only considered in terms of box office $$$.

  19. What makes a Disney hit?

    Being good.

    • Being formulaic. A good balance of family-fun films and being inoffensive. They do have duds but they can ride those out because they’ve bought up so many assets and franchises.

      You’re right, though. If a film is good, I’ll watch it. But that’s not every Disney movie or every sequel

      • SEMmbry

        Did you know that only two out of every ten films made are any good? And that’s the way filmmakers planned it. Since time immemorial. Or since films started being made. Them’s the rules. So that explains what you consider to be duds. However, many other people may find them not to be duds. One man’s meat, etc.

  20. You have a really good point here. I admit I don’t follow Disney very closely, but I think it’s telling that outside of Pixar I’m not sure when the last time was that I saw a truly new, original Disney film (as opposed to a sequel, remake, or riff on an older story). The last one might well have been Frozen, which came out way back in 2013.

  21. Elise Kennedy

    Hand-drawn animation went ‘out’ decades ago, but it is an art form, so I am convinced it will come ‘back’. However I disagree that Disney is just making money off live-action remakes without saying anything new with the stories. Case in point: Cinderella, the 2015 live-action remake, invited young viewers of today to connect to the story by bringing attention to themes within the story that are pertinent today – social media bullying (‘I hate myself in paintings’) and feminism/gender topics (‘Who cares what he’s like? He’s rich!’), and also reminding people of timeless symbols and themes (the steadfast oak, kindness, blue sky as a symbol purity and aiming high, etc.). I have the impression that Disney cares, in some way, to tell the same stories over and over, because those stories contain some element of timeless truth about life. Sugar-coated, yes. But it’s entertainment! We need catharsis in order to digest the bitter elements of reality.

  22. Get ready for Disney’s Die hard remake, with one of the kids from Stranger things.

  23. Clarisa

    Disney films are always about superheroes or talking animals or singing princesses or aliens that look human – nothing that resembles anything in real life. If they started dealing with reality, at some point, they would offend the powers that be in China. Every Disney film is designed to appeal to the Chinese market.

  24. zeeeeek

    The Americans are good at investing in techonology and making it make money. They take risks, eg Disney with Pixar but don’t give up easily like the British or Europeans, unless they reslise they are backing a failed technology. The US ended up dominating the 20th century with their innovations, from cars to flight, to the moon. They have started the 21st century with Google, Amazon etc. The UK and EU seem to prefer investing in the techology of the past, such as rail, even though with nearly 200 years of massive investment the UK rail system is only used for about 2 % of journeys. About time the UK and Europe upped its game, the Chinese will start investing in innovation and technology The UK and EU will stay in the technology innovation dark ages if it does not try investing in the future and competing.

  25. I think there’s a certain beauty in the old Disney classics, a beauty that does not resemble or cannot be found in the new ones. The animation in the new film makes it hard to recognise any emotion from the animals, whereas in the first Lion King their faces were very emotive – making it more enjoyable, and comedic.

  26. But what will they do with the films that combine live action with animation – such as Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins? Maybe they should reverse the conventions – so an animated Dick Van Dyke dances with live action penguins?

    • How about Bambi with Zec Ephron as the front end and Justin Timberlake as the rear.

  27. Disney have become successful by giving ordinary people what they want.

  28. Great article! I have not watched the new Lion King, however it does make me wonder if its release was part of a plan to further distance Disney from the Kimba the White Lion controversy. Nothing like sweeping a problematic past under the rug by erasing all previous similarities and creating an entirely new work masquerading as a live-action remake.

  29. This article is a pretty good summation of my thoughts on the glut of Disney live-action remakes recently. I generally don’t mind remakes or recreating old material with a different style, but there has been an exhaustive amount of remakes lately and they’re doing little to carve out their own places in cinema history. It really does feel like Disney is exploiting audience nostalgia. It also makes it look as though Disney has simply run out of ideas.

  30. Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

    It is indeed difficult to perceive this move as anything other than a profit grab, however, we do need to be realistic about the fact that is what these businesses are for – profit. Although it is great when the big houses try something cinematically new, it is unrealistic to believe they do this from any form of uniquely artistic drive or contribution to art and culture, although some of this is present it would not be made if it was not deemed to be profitable.
    Great topic to get the discussion flowing.

  31. Joseph Cernik
    Joseph Cernik

    A good essay, although I always liked watching animation with my kids and the memories of those times are nice to remember. I guess parents bringing their kids to see live action films may develop different memories.

  32. It seems as the original movies had a much deeper meaning than what the live-action re-makes are bringing to the screens.

  33. Interesting take. Not a fan of animation or indeed anime myself, but I find this take interesting

  34. The one thing I hate about the remade Lion King is the fact that everyone is calling it live-action. It’s not live action, it’s 3D animation. Reviews and people online have been calling that since it was announced.

  35. rachelsakashita

    I appreciate your argument, particularly concerning whether or not Disney is interested solely in targeting the audiences who will give them the most money rather than creating new, innovative art. A thought that your article brought me to consider is this: after watching the remake of Aladdin, several viewers in the audience and I had a discussion about Jasmine’s revised role in the drama, especially focusing upon her autonomy as a woman. In the original film, Jasmine did not have as much of a voice as she has in the remake. In this regard, the viewers and I appreciated that the new film expanded upon the original film’s narrative and, in our opinion, brought it more up-to-date with the questions of empowerment and autonomy that circulate around female characters nowadays. This seems to be a positive revision, even if it changed the original narrative slightly.

  36. This was a really well-written piece and I agree with a lot of points.

    When I watched ‘The Lion King’ I was disheartened by how…flat it seemed. It lost the exuberance and the soul. Even the fact that they cut ‘Be Prepared’ out of the songs when there wasn’t that many songs to begin with. It was a filmic Invasion of the Body Snatchers…It looks like ‘The Lion King’, it sounds like ‘The Lion King’ but there is something clearly off about it.

    ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is probably a good example of how the live-action remakes should go in terms of direction: they gave Belle way more backstory, they added additional songs, they kept the nostalgic aspects and most importantly: it wasn’t the exact same.

    Let’s hope future remakes are better. I still feel that Disney create wonderful live-action films.

  37. Great article, great points all around! It saddens me to see some of the comments sounding so bitter about these new movies that are coming out. There always seem to be this idea with distinct generations about better times, (this comes with any generation that ages and doesn’t enjoy what younger people might find enjoyable,) but as much as Disney is a money-seeking company, it doesn’t stop the good it’s doing either.
    I agree that certain live-actions were not necessary and might have suffered due to the fact, but the art and stories are nonetheless beautiful. Most of their stories, and original animated movies, were not Walt Disney’s. They were beautified versions of fairy tails found around the world.
    My personal opinion is that these remakes are coming in order for Disney to; yes, gain money by recycling stories, but also by trying to stay relevant with this new uprising of CGI and digital components in movies to seem as realistic as possible. Some of them might not have proven as effective as others, but this might still be a “learn as you go” process for this new direction they have been taking. I think we should still be hopeful that with the next few movies to come, that Disney will be able to deliver better products. Either direct copies of the animated movies or, as stated in JTVersus’ comment; “they gave Belle way more backstory, they added additional songs, they kept the nostalgic aspects and most importantly: it wasn’t the exact same.”

  38. The live action remakes of such classics just spoil the originals. Much of what I love about Disney is the magic that animation brings to the story, live action versions have this almost adult feel that doesn’t fit

  39. After loving The Lion King original as a child, I do not feel the live action remake is the strongest or best movie of 2019.
    I love the nostagia and beauty of the old disney movies, so after enjoying them for a long time, any disney old movie that’s remade cannot be compared.
    Although, I did find the animation rather impresssive and it was an interesting way to remake a cartoon.
    I love seeing comparisions of scenes from the original movie and the new remake. Thank you for this article!

  40. I like and dislike the live action remakes. The nostalgia they bring is something I like but because they are remakes it is difficult to love because the original is so ingrained in my head while watching the whole remake.

  41. I find it interesting that some people complain about animation being brought to live screen portrayed exactly the same. What do you expect? It’s the same story.

  42. Emily Deibler

    I do find it sad that animation is now seen as outdated and childish when the animated Disney movies were considered innovative in their time.

    Another thing that bothers me about these movies is how they over-correct. They try so hard to correct “plot holes” in the original story by giving uninteresting or unneeded information. This was most evident to me in Beauty and the Beast.

  43. With Disney it’s hard to tell who is making the movie: the production company itself or audience expectations. While there can be critiques of financial exploitation, a new generation of families can enjoy an updated Lion King without brushing off the old VHS.

  44. I think what this article hit on in regard to animation having a certain reputation, even with the Spider-Verse movie success, is very accurate. Animation will almost certainly always be viewed, at least by the majority of casual fans, as something for children. However, the pros of an animation is that it allows you to tell a versatile and aesthetically pleasing story that no amount of live-action can ever replace, and I am surprised it hasn’t been used more to tell more mature stories. Animation is a medium that just allows more without the expense of insanely expensive sets, costumes, and actors. The Lion King “live-action” was stunning, but it also lacked some of the soul of the original film, which was able to be a little bit “crazier” in its design.

  45. I’ve been disinterested in watching the live action remakes, mostly because I feel like they aren’t really necessary. Sure, they’re “necessary” to Disney in terms of profit, but are they necessary as a form of entertainment? Can entertainment ever be “just entertainment” anymore, or must it always be about revenue and profit? I did end up watching the new Lion King with some friends, and while it was definitely enjoyable to an extent, it isn’t something I’d ever feel the hankering to re-watch like with the original animated version. What is Disney going to do once they’ve finally remade every single one of their classic animated films? They’re going to have to create something original eventually, right? …Right?

  46. My main issue with remakes is that we have seen these stories before. We live in a society where representation is necessary and is more prominent than ever before. However, there is still room for more diverse stories to be told and so when remakes of stagnant stories continue to be produced by large corporations, it reduces the ability for new, diverse storylines to be brought to the surface.

  47. To be honest, the main concern with these remakes is that they basically provide the same sort of story line as their original predecessors. There is a lack of diversity present, and I believe that they should leave the originals within their own sort of realm. There is also a reduction in the ability to produce new pieces — there is a constant referral to the past. I think Disney remakes such works in order to maintain their overall income, which definitely is the truth. We should start seeing different stories, instead of going through the revolving door of past works.

  48. I think you make some excellent points. However, criticizing a business for attempting to make profits seems … counter-intuitive? At the end of the day, Disney’s whole purpose is to make money – as was the purpose of Marvel, Broadway, and many other entertainment businesses. And, while I think individuals who grew up with the original movies may feel a sense of nostalgia or that the remakes aren’t as good as the originals, younger generations now have an even larger collection to choose from. Plus, as you mentioned, these remakes are adding things that weren’t originally there (like Prince Charming’s character development), and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those changes, in some cases, can be considered good and a sign of progression, not just Disney’s capitalist endeavors.

  49. It’s crazy how much Disney is making so much profit off of re-making it’s old movies. I agree with the fact that Disney is continuing to grow fast. With Frozen 2 coming out, I think the company is just going to continue to grow even bigger.

  50. Ironically, although deep down almost everyone knows the remakes are never going to be as good as the originals, they still go see em out of curiosity and fear of missing out. I think it has a bit to do with supply and demand really, as long as those films aren’t profitable, they won’t produce any more remakes. But it’s hard to stop that apparently

  51. Amelia Arrows

    Thank you for talking about this topic!
    The remakes just make me want to stop watching Disney movies all together but I can’t help myself to watch them, only to see how bad they are.
    Now I wouldn’t be so offended if Disney produced the Remakes by telling the story through another eye, or doing something simular to the Decendants Movies or something new to the old classics. But telling the story shot for shot and inserting wokeness and having it as a kive action is just a waste of time. I understand they want to do it for a new audience, but this is just a cash grab.
    I need a new original fairytale movie Disney!

  52. I completely agree! Every new live action film begs the question “who asked for this?” If you want to attract a new audience, make new films and continue to show the classics that, in many cases, have aged incredibly well. It’s overkill at this point.

  53. I have only watched two remakes and never again. Apart from the fact that I genuinely think they are terrible and not anywhere as good as the originals, the very obvious greedy, capitalistic play on people’s nostalgia is repulsive

  54. Thank you for this article! Nostalgia definitely plays a key factor in the negative reaction towards the remakes. As technology evolves, so does people’s expectations of film techniques. The hand-drawn Disney films were created in a time when they were thought of an innovative in comparison to the expectations people have with the current technology. It is interesting to see how their approach to animation and wanting to adapt to other forms of technology such as CGI differs from the hand-drawn techniques of Studio Ghibli. I find their contrasting approaches to maintaining their audience while still gaining new audiences quite intriguing.

  55. In my opinion these “remakes” may also be seen as trying to move away from the traditionally animated versions of these stories, and striving for a more “mature” retelling via CGI. Too many adults seem to think of traditional animation as “for kids”; while CGI effects, being widely used in more mature material, TV series and films alike, are not associated with a childish audience. However, animation is a beautiful medium to work with, even strictly technically speaking: the style of the art and the fluidity of movement that can be achieved can elevate the story being told to an experience that is above and beyond the perceived mundanity of real life. In the light of this, it is sad that traditional animation is so frequently dismissed by those who don’t know better.

  56. I’m a big fan of Disney Remake Hate. I think the remakes are a poor disguise at a cash-grab, and I think you explain that well in this piece. I think we should also consider the harm v. the good that the Disney remakes are adding to the original story. In my opinion, there is more harm being made because they seem to want to overcorrect all of their mistakes instead of acknowledging or doing anything about the problematic tropes that took place in their earlier animation. Instead of acknowledging any of the racism in Dumbo, they just completely disregard the crows entirely, but keep some of the lines and the music. It’s just a way for them to make money and the most frustrating part is that it’s working, with content that’s much lower quality than it could be.

  57. In its attempts to capitalise from the nostalgia, it seems that Disney has overlooked that the success of its movies didn’t just depend on the stories, and that it was actually a culmination of good stories, great animation, and other factors such as great soundtracks. While it’s great that Disney now has access to better technology that allows it to revisit these stories, it seems to be extremely lazy for it to churn out remake after remake rather than coming up with new titles.

  58. Sunni Rashad

    Nostalgia is just another marketing tool.

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