Beauty and the Beast. Aladdin. Cinderella. Pete’s Dragon. Dumbo. The Lion King.
I could honestly go on and on with that list, but given the title of this post, you already know what I’m talking about. These are classic, cherished movies that the Walt Disney Studios have chosen to remake or reboot, often with sky high budgets but with sometimes dismal box office returns, at least comparatively.
I make no secret of the fact that I have a near venomous disdain for reboots or remakes, especially when those pictures are nearly one-to-one copies of the original. Sure, nearly all of the major studios have remade their movies over the years; even the once-mighty MGM remade Ben-Hur not once but twice, first in 1959 and then again in 2016. (True story, I didn’t know the 1959 picture was a remake until I learned that there was a 1925 silent version as well.)
Of course, I’m not going to put a blanket statement over every movie that gets remade or rebooted; that’d be just unfair to a number of movies that, frankly, are better than the original. There’s also the remakes that are made decades apart with a changed-up storyline than the original; those, too, I let slide. (Take the 1931 and 1992 Dracula movies, for example.) But no studio has been more blatant and frequent in their rebooting as of late than Disney. It’s to the point where the remakes have earned themselves their own catalog page on Wikipedia, since they’re coming out so numerous and so frequent over the last ten years, with many more in the pipeline.
Two of the future remakes in particular give me cause for alarm: Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Not only were the originals Walter E. Disney’s first full length animated features (Snow White in 1937, Pinocchio in 1940), but these are two of the staples that come to mind when one may discuss what is a “Disney Animated Classic.” That’s not to say there haven’t been many an adaptation of those stories; believe me, there’s plenty. The Disney versions of these pictures, though, are by far the most well known and thus are the ones that come to mind when bringing up either Snow White or Pinocchio. The same can be said for the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz; there’s been many an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 book, but Judy Garland’s take on Dorothy Gale is by far the most well known.
In the time between when I first started writing this post and today (let’s see if the timestamp ends up ratting out my chronic procrastination), the “live action” (I use that very loosely here) version of The Lion King has done spectacularly at both domestic and international box offices, to absolutely no surprise from me at all. I, on the other hand, have still refused to see it. (Just TRY and make me, god damn it!) Maybe I’ll relent when it comes time for the home release, just to see what the hullabaloo’s about…but I know how stubborn I can be. I’ll see this new picture on digital or on the shelf at the store, look at it for a sec, and think to myself, “Why though, you’ve already got a copy of The Lion King at home Andy, stop it.“
I don’t want to make a preemptive blanket statement over all the remakes Disney and co. are putting out since some of them frankly look pretty good (looking at you, Mulan remake); I don’t think anybody does, for that matter, but I’ve noticed that this generation (and I’m certainly guilty of this myself at times) tends to be a bit more protective of nostalgia from our younger days. Maybe one day it can make a good research topic, and at the rate things are going, it looks like there’s going to be plenty of material to work with. For their sake, let’s just hope audiences don’t have mass waves of franchise fatigue and reboot recoil anytime soon.
I’ll revise this particular post as needed down the line, since I feel like I barely scratched the surface with what’s coming down the pike…and maybe clean up some of the writing while I’m at it.