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Disney continues the remake trend

| Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Claire Kopischke | The Observer

The Walt Disney Company is one of the most profitable companies of all time. Created by Walt Disney, this multi-billion dollar company is known for bringing joy to the general public. However, in recent years, Disney is falling under the trend of remaking classic films.

The first-ever Disney live-action remake of a classic animated film was “The Jungle Book,” released on Christmas Day in 1994 and starring Jason Scott Lee — and also remade again in 2016. After the moderate box office success, Disney began to make many more remakes of classic animated films such as “101 Dalmatians,” “Beauty and the Beast” and the most recent remake “The Lion King,” directed by Jon Favreau. Disney has many more remakes planned for the next two to three years, some to be released theatrically and others to come on the new streaming service Disney Plus.

The questions soon begin to come up: Why is Disney doing this? What is the benefit of this? The answers are actually simple. It all comes down to money, technological advancements and the addition of new material and better casting choices.

Many of the classic Disney films released before the 21st century had very small budgets. A great example of this is the 1959 film “Sleeping Beauty.” At the time of its release, the film had a $6 million budget and made a little over $51 million. On the flip side, its 2014 remake/spin-off “Maleficent” had a budget of $180 million. Upon its release in May 2014, the film made over $758 million. “Maleficent” simply made a lot more money than its 1959 predecessor.

Another reason Disney is falling into the trend of remaking their classic films is because of the technology filmmakers have at hand. Because we are in an era where CGI and high-quality cameras are in, Disney has picked up on the fact that we have top-of-the-line technology and they can make their classic animated films more pristine and stylistic.

Disney also adds a lot of new material to the original stories and makes great casting choices for the remakes. The new material added into the remakes includes new storylines and new original songs. A recent Disney film to accomplish this was the 2015 adaptation of “Cinderella,” starring Lily James and Helena Bonham Carter. The film adds in a storyline where Cinderella rides into the woods to meet Prince Charming, named Kit in the film. The film also added the song “Strong,” which was romance heavy. From there, many other remakes made choices to add new songs into the film, such as the 2017 adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” which added two songs, “Evermore” and “Days in the Sun.”

In terms of casting choices, many of the actors cast in the remakes are considered some of the best choices for a more modern audience. Some of the actors involved include Emma Watson as Belle, Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Donald Glover as Simba. These actors offer audiences young and old a breath of fresh air from listening to the likes of Phil Harris, Eleanor Audley and Verna Felton and add a more modern twist to the films.

All in all, Disney continues to amaze audiences across the world and contributes to the current trend of remaking classic films initially set in motion by Tim Burton with his “Batman” series and Stephen Sommers with the “Mummy” trilogy. The next Disney remake to be released in theaters will be “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” scheduled to be released worldwide on Oct. 18.

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