Disney’s live-action remakes need to stop.
By Madison Sciba
Disney’s persistence in making sub-par live action remakes of beloved classic animated films has become tiresome. Cinderella was good, Beauty and the Beast was okay, Mulan was dreadful and so on and so forth. Disney hasn’t exactly been hitting it out of the park doing live-action versions. Most audiences are tired of these remakes, sighing every time the next one is announced rather than being excited.
When Disney first announced that they were in production of a live-action version of the 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid, most people’s first reaction was not excitement but rather worry. Worried that Disney was going to butcher a much loved classic, just like they did to Mulan.
The live-action Mulan came out in 2020, and due to the pandemic, most viewers watched the movie on Disney+ where there was an added fee to see the movie. Fans of the 1998 animated film were quick to dislike the live-action version for a variety of reasons. The lack of the beloved mini-dragon, Mushu, was a huge disappointment for fans. The character, originally played by Eddie Murphy, is arguably one of the best parts of the original film, providing the majority of the comedic relief to a film that centers around war. This along with the decision to not make the movie a musical left fans devastated. Donny Osmond’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” is one of the most iconic songs to come out of a Disney film, not to mention the incredible montage that plays in the film during the song. When making the live-action version of Mulan, Disney removed everything from the movie that made it a fun, loveable family film.
The latest classic that Disney has chosen to go after is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a movie that is a significant part of Disney’s history as well as the history of cinema. The 1937 film was the first ever full length animated feature film, and the first major success for the Walt Disney company. The film was an incredible show of innovation in the world of animation and was even the first movie to have an official soundtrack. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave one full sized honorary Academy Award and seven miniature awards to Walt Disney in 1938. The Walt Disney family museum, where all of the Oscars won by Walt Disney studios are held, explains in an article on their website, “The Academy honored Snow White as ‘a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field for the motion picture cartoon.’”
Now the Walt Disney company has decided to remake the iconic film, and it is being surrounded by controversy. While the movie is supposed to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the new 2024 live-action will not include the Dwarfs, and once again Disney is drastically altering the story to fit a current narrative. At this point, they should just come up with a new story.
If Disney thinks that they need to alter the original stories of Mulan, Little Mermaid, and Snow White to make them suitable for a modern audience in a live-action format, then maybe those should not be made into live-action at all. Why does Disney keep doing live-action remakes anyway? They have almost all been box office failures, with Pinocchio, Peter Pan and Wendy, and Dumbo receiving no notable success.
Does Disney not have any new, original ideas? They keep making live-action flop after flop, not understanding that their audience does not want another remake; they want a new, original story.
It is completely acceptable to use those classic stories as a jumping off point for new ones, but just remaking and changing these movies for the worse is not the way to go. Some examples of using classics to make a new, great story are Maleficent and Cruella. Both films received much better reviews and audience ratings than the other Disney live-actions. They were based on classic Disney films (Sleeping Beauty for Maleficent and 101 Dalmatians for Cruella) but took a new approach. Audiences enjoyed seeing another side to the infamous villain, Maleficent, bringing a whole new angle to the character. Getting the intricate back story to Cruella DeVille was a great example of using another film as inspiration but still creating something new and interesting.
Disney was once the epitome of filmmaking, but they are now releasing flop after flop. They need to regroup, be original, and stop copying their own work from decades ago. Bring back old Disney. Bring back the Disney that had people, young and old, flocking to theaters with friends and family. Bring back the Disney that would make Walt proud.
Madison Sciba '24,