Disney’s latest attempt to create a live-action remake hit theaters everywhere on Friday, with the well-known Emma Watson leading the production of “Beauty and the Beast.” In recent years, the entertainment conglomerate has released several remakes of animated classics, including “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Most of these have done extremely well in sales, prompting Disney to release more and more of the classics retold. The next few years will bring renditions of both “Mulan” and “Aladdin” to hit the big screens once again.
The modern take on Belle’s story came with both criticism and praise for the entire industry of live-action remakes. Proponents have said that these films have brought them back to their youth, while opponents claim that Disney is simply running out of ideas. BuzzFeed released an article expressing concern for the “remake machine” of Disney productions. The article blasted Disney for just adding special effects and replacing animated characters with human, effectively releasing the same movie twice.
Audiences are so drawn to these remakes because of sentimental feelings that inevitably creep into their hearts. Disney may be in the business of making movies, but their true talent is in nostalgia. The remakes they’ve released have been ones that viewers now in their early to late twenties grew up with. The new films are bringing them back to their childhood, the roots of their introduction to film. The charm to these live-action replicates lies in the feelings, the music and the deep investment that audiences first had when they saw the animated versions. Disney is an expert on how to to remind adults of what makes them feel like kids, while also making kids feel like they can do anything. They’re now venturing down new avenues to revitalize their best content. What could be the issue?
These films have a legacy that newer movies, though incredibly creative and successful in their own right, can’t possibly compare to. Perhaps the younger generation will grow up with dreams of being like Moana or Officer Hopps, but we will always be empowered by Mulan’s courage or Belle’s selflessness. These movies can appeal to the new generation, as this would be their first take on some of these princesses, while also creating a need for older generations to relive their youth. The impressive legacies of these films are not only bringing together audiences, but also A-list celebrities that have joined these casts. “Beauty and the Beast” featured not only former Harry Potter star Watson, but also Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen. The history of such classics create a project that stars have been eager to be a part of.
The popularity of live-action remakes is similar to the trend of creating sequel after sequel for an already successful movie. If you’ve got a hit, why spend time creating a new idea when you can just build upon the first? Disney is sticking to their roots, which also happens to be their guaranteed hits. It’s practically insured that a sequel, or in this case a remake, will interest the original audience and intrigue a new one. If the original animated film was a hit, it wouldn’t be a stretch for producers to assume that a copy with actual actors would be the same.
Therefore, Disney is more likely to spend the time and money invested in the same movies because their popularity is already at an all-time high. While a film like “Maleficent” was a new take on the princess movie, “Beauty and the Beast” was practically identical to its former animation. Though some songs were added, audiences have been pleased to see their favorite scenes acted out by real people in a theatre once more. However, some have been questioning Disney’s creativity. Are they remaking these movies because they have no fresh ideas? With the release of “Moana” and “Zooptopia,” it wouldn’t be fair to say that Disney isn’t coming up with new content. They’re just playing it safe, but it’s certainly paying off.