Everyone has a favorite Disney classic, whether it be The Lion King or The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Everyone has a movie from their childhood that makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. That’s exactly what Disney is banking on when they remake those classics in “live-action”.
I say “live-action” with huge flashing air quotes because it’s all computer-generated. They transform the cute, original creature characters into photorealistic monsters, and they put Hollywood’s hottest celebrities in the role of our classic human hero or villain.
“It’s difficult because it’s neither [animation or live-action], really,” producer of the Lion King remake and 2016’s Jungle Book Jon Favreau said in an interview with Gizmodo. “There are no real animals and there are no real cameras and…there’s not even any performance that’s being captured.”
It shouldn’t really be called live-action, as no live-action is actually being filmed. t could also mean liveliness, which these movies, unlike the originals, are not.
One might wonder why Disney is doing this. Why do they think that remaking the 2-D masterpieces is necessary?
Well, the answer is money, or at least that is the obvious choice. Disney is remaking them to make the old characters new again for a new movie-going audience and generation. Most likely, it’s a combination of the two.
2-D animation is expensive and time-consuming, not to mention the trouble of coming up with original ideas. Now, they no longer have to come up with new ideas and draw them into reality.
However, what they gain in monetary income they lose in style and creativity. The animators at Disney have always had a talent for showing an impressive amount of emotion in their characters, as well as an astounding amount of personality in what could just be a lion or a beast.
They are banking on nostalgia, banking that you’ll go see it because of that feeling you get when you watch your favorite movie or show from childhood.
“We thought if Iron Man and Thor and Captain America are Marvel superheroes, then maybe Alice, Cinderella, Mowgli, and Belle are our superheroes, and Cruella and Maleficent are our supervillains, maybe there’s a way to reconnect with that affinity for what those characters mean to people,” film producer Sean Bailey said in an interview with Vulture.
If they feel it’s necessary to remake old classics, what they could do instead is remake some of the older 3-D animated movies, such as 2004’s The Incredibles, to make it look less out of date.
As without creativity and utterly cynical this approach is, it is a brilliant business decision. It makes a lot of money; the new Lion King has grossed upwards of $1.5 billion, making it the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. So obviously, it’s making money, meaning Disney will continue to remake their classics in “live-action.”
This remaking of classics is pointless, it’s cynical and money-grabbing, but it does introduce the newer movie-going audience to classic Disney movies. They just don’t pull it off well most of the time.