It is no secret that the Disney Corp. likes to capitalize on its rich history of characters and stories.
In 2003, Disney was able to dominate the box office with “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl”, a film based on a boat ride at the Disneyland theme park. It has since released reboots of many beloved animated films and bought the rights to the “Star Wars” franchise, another familiar set of stories.
The Disney reboot of “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010 kicked off the trend for the slew of Disney remakes and reboots. Currently, 22 live action remakes of animated films are planned.
Movie audiences have seen the retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” (Maleficent, 2014), “Cinderella” (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), and most recently, “Beauty and the Beast”.
While some of these films have received more favorable reviews than others, these films are almost guaranteed to be a smash in the box office, and there is always a lot of buzz when they are released.
However, just because these movies are financially successful does not mean they are good movies.
With the amount of money spent on movies, and the revenue that movies must generate to break even, movie studios and their executives understandably do not like to take risks with new and original ideas.
Movie studios have known for a while that people will buy tickets solely on brand and name recognition.
Most of the top grossing films from the last 10 years are either reboots, sequels, or based on comic book movies. Besides “Zootopia” and “The Secret Life of Pets”, the top grossing films of 2016 were all either films based on comic books or were reboots or remakes.
The reboots of the animated Disney films usually take a darker and grittier tone, and will give some sort of twist to the classic stories.
The 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” shows a darker version of Wonderland and a backstory of an evil curse, plus a large, climactic action battle.
In Maleficent, the story is told from the point of the view of the villain, who in this version, actually protects Sleeping Beauty.
The “Jungle Book” reboot had a dark and shadowed cinematography, decreased the musical sequences and included scenes considered too scary for children.
The computer-generated imagery in these movies are impressive, and helps to create these gigantic worlds and rich action and a variety of animated characters. These movies are great spectacles, but not much else.
If movie goers keep paying for these reboots and remakes, Disney will keep them coming.
The Disney animated classics are available for us to enjoy anytime. What is the point of watching stories we are already familiar?
There is not much personality to the characters in these movies, and the action sequences follow typical routes that we have seen before.
While these movies may be considered children’s films, the crowd that will be more familiar with these films will be teenagers, adults, and adults with children; people with spending money.
People enjoy these films, and that’s fine. No one should feel ashamed or embarrassed by the entertainment they enjoy. The real question is whether the main draw for these films is not just familiarity.
Sure, we can give Disney our money for already familiar stories — that we have seen time and time again, or we can spend our money on smaller, more original films and compel filmmakers to give us a more diverse movie selection at the theatres.