By Kimia Degani
Most of Disney’s content recently has been live action remakes on classic animations. Between 2010 and 2017, Disney produced five – Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast. It’s now 2019, and four new ones have already been announced – Dumbo (29th of March 2019), Aladdin (24th of May 2019), The Lion King (19th of July 2019) and Mulan (27th of March 2020)
So why keep making newer versions of the old movies? It’s risky to change something that’s already perfect. There’s been a fair share of complaints and confusion from fans about this decision, and two main reasons have emerged.
1. Walt Disney’s Will
A tweet posted by @Samanthapaigeu in November 2018 went viral for supposedly explaining the reason behind Disney’s liking for remaking classic Disney films.
The following day she did clarify that she wasn’t 100% sure if this was true, but the theory has still been shared by thousands of people. I also believed this was the reason for the upcoming live actions until I researched and found that the statement, unfortunately, is inaccurate for a few reasons.
Firstly, at the time of his death in 1996, Walt Disney did not own Walt Disney Productions as it was a publicly held company (he was a 14% shareholder), so he had no authority to dictate the actions of the company.
Even looking at the number of times any Disney classic film has been remade since the original release proves that this claim is false. The Lion King, for example, was released in 1994, and the first live action remake is to be released 25 years later. Some Disney classics, such as 1943’s Bambi, have never been remade.
Finally, Walt Disney’s will of March 1966 basically left 45% of his state to his wife and daughters, 45% to the Disney Foundation (which supports families in need and nature conservation) and 10% in a trust to be divided between his sister, nieces and nephews. I was even able to find his full Will and Testament online and after briefly reading it I found no mention of the remaking of Disney films.
If there’s an audience who already loves a certain plot line and characters, why develop new ones and attract a new audience from scratch when you can develop the original film? Like many others, Walt Disney Studios is a company, and while its aim is to entertain its audience and create magic, it also needs to maintain a constant revenue to build its resources. If people already enjoy a franchise, there’s a higher chance they’ll pay to see it in another form rather than try a new film. Beauty and the Beast, for example, was the second highest grossing movie in 2017, earning a whopping $1.0024 billion worldwide gross.
Of course, in saying all this, Walt Disney Studios has come out with infamous new films such as Wreck It Ralph 1 and 2, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana, Coco and more that display the company’s brilliant creativity and amazing character development that we’ve all come to know and love. This article is by no means a way to downplay Disney, but to answer questions regarding the ongoing production of live action films that make some people say the company is running out of ideas, which it certainly isn’t. New technologies, audience demand and changing trends have contributed to the change in production, and I for one am immensely excited to see the new movies hit the big screen this year.