Why Does Disney Keep Making Live-Action Remakes?

Helena Bonham Carter in "Alice Through the Looking Glass." Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (5695246e)

Does anyone else feel like Disney keeps on remaking all your favorite childhood movies? From The Jungle Book to Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast and now The Lion King, why is Disney on a mission to do live-action remakes of everything and when is it going to stop?

In 2010, Tim Burton remade Alice in Wonderland with strange cartoonish human hybrids. The remake pulled in over a billion dollars at the box office and a sequel was welcomed. The success of the film awoke Disney to the potential of remaking old classics. Later that year, they released a remake of Fantasia called The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Sleeping Beauty made an intriguing comeback in the form of Maleficent. These films all offered something new in their live-action remakes, making their existence justifiable. Only Disney didn’t stop there.

In the last few years, we’ve lost count of how many live-action remakes Disney has made (we googled it, and it’s over 13). Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book both pulled in close to a billion dollars at the box office and The Lion King hit the $1 billion mark just a week after it hit cinemas. Is Disney really just churning out remakes so they can squeeze more profit our of their beloved characters?

It may seem that way, but it isn’t just about making money as much as it is about relaunching Disney classics for a changing cinema audience. The cartoons which formulated a significant part of our childhood might not have the same effect on young children today, who are used to a far higher standard of CGI and cinema. The Lion King remake which may seem uncanny and unnecessary to you might just speak to your six-year-old in a way the original may not.

In a 4* review of The Lion King, we wrote: Alternatively, perhaps Disney ought to realize that the magic of Disney was never found in its realism, but in its ability to take us out of the real world entirely.

Although we stand by this statement, we would perhaps like to reevaluate our claim that in the remake, “the magic is lost.” Perhaps the reason these live-action remakes don’t live up to the originals is not that they are more realistic, but that we are older and they no longer have the capacity to affect us in the way they once did as a child.

We suppose what we are trying to say is that Disney’s live-action remakes are not being made to give a money-grabbing shiny makeover to our treasured Disney tales. Instead, the remakes are attempting to give the same magical Disney experience we had to a new generation of fans who may not be impressed by the cartoons. Instead of getting critical over these remakes, perhaps we ought to ask our children what they think instead.