Disney and the Year-of-the-Remake
Judging by the endless line of live action remakes ("Beauty and the Beast," "The Jungle Book," and "Cinderella"), Disney seems to be in a creative rut. Not only has Disney redone its own classics, but they continue to pump out sequels such as "Monster’s University," "Cars 4," and of course, the newest iteration of "Star Wars." According to The Guardian, Disney produced the “four top grossing films of the year,” matching “$7 billion in global ticket sales.” Two of those films were sequels.
For Disney lovers this trend is both exciting and disappointing. On one hand, we get to re-watch all our favorite stories. On the other hand, it feels like Disney is stomping on their own work. Why mess with a good thing? Part of the charm of old Disney movies is their quality (or lack thereof). It makes the movies and shows feel time-locked. Perhaps this is one reason why Disney wants to remake them though. They want to appeal to another generation, a generation that’s used to CGI. They need action and a certain amount of convincing graphics to pay attention. They simultaneously appeal to the generations that grew up on the Disney classics. Even those who despise the trend (like myself) have to admit that they still go see the movies.
Doc Salyers, resident Disney expert at King's, also admits to loving some of the remakes. But, he worries that Disney is struggling with a “lack of originality.” However, he says that all major enterprises do this. They reinvent the same story because they know it will make money. It was particularly controversial when Disney bought out Marvel, a company that is notorious for marketing the same story over and over again.
Disney-buff Jonathan Harvill (‘17) has a more optimistic view. He believes that even though Disney comes out with a ridiculous amount of sequels and live-action remakes, they are also coming out with plenty of incredibly creative ideas such as "Inside Out" and "Zootopia." He says that if they have to do remakes, “at least do it well.” According to Harvill, Disney can be creative through their remakes. He cites the "Star Wars" series as an example, saying that each movie can feel like a different genre. For instance, “'Rogue One' was a war movie, while the Hans Solo movie will probably have a western feel.” He also points out that their old classics haven’t lost their impact, saying that “Cinderella’s castle is still one of the most iconic images” in the world.
In some ways, it feels like Disney is selling out. It also pains me to think about current five year-olds growing up on a different set of classics than I did. I have to side with Jonathan on the issue though. Though I think it’s unnecessary to redo Beauty and the Beast, at least they chose Emma Watson to play Belle. Even though it’s unnecessary to redo Cinderella, at least the trailer alone still brought me to tears. They appeal to my primary weakness-- my sentimentality. They have abused my nostalgia, and I, like many other Disney fans have fallen for it. They will continue to remake old material, and I will still buy the ticket.