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Is nostalgia the reason for Disney’s remake?
March 21, 2019
Recently, Disney has started to produce, in high numbers, live-action remakes of their most popular animated films.
Though, they have been slowly doing so since the 90s with Stephen Sommers’ own rendition of The Jungle Book (1994).
In 1996, Disney made a live version of 101 Dalmatians and followed it with a sequel in 2000.
The live action version of Alice in Wonderland would come in 2010.
It was in 2014, when Maleficent came out, that trend gained traction.
Since, there has been one to two live-action remakes or retellings a year. Curiously, none would release in 2018.
There are now three coming out in 2019: Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King. It seems like a lot and a surprising move by Disney, but it is really par for the course for the company.
Disney has always been great at capitalizing on nostalgia and has been doing it for years.
None of these films are being made for the love of the craft, and they are purely an easy money grab for the company. That is not necessarily a bad thing. These films can turn out to be amazing. It is just that there is no point to really remake these films, other than laziness and greed. Though, again, that is par for the course for Disney. Let me explain.
Disney knows how to release their old films to gain as much money as possible. They know many of their movies are well loved and coveted, so they do not flood the market with copies of the films.
They only release old films in various special editions and in limited numbers. These films, when sold out, go into a metaphorical vault and just see the light a day when Disney executives find a new gimmick for a new special edition.
They also love making straight to DVD sequels and side stories for their most popular films. These are always readily available when the original are hardly ever able to be found.
The special editions make money, though, and sell out regularly. Many of these can fetch a pretty penny on the secondary market. In many ways, it is the same logic they apply to their remakes.
Nostalgia is a big money maker. Someone that loves The Lion King will at least consider watching the remake. There is a hope that the remake can capture the same or improve upon the emotions felt when the movie was viewed as a kid or for the first time.
These films make money.
2017’s Beauty and the Beast made $1.264 billion at the box office. According to Film L.A, the budget for the film was around $244 million. That is a fantastic return on investment.
2016’s The Jungle Book made $966 million, and Film L.A. estimates that the budget was $177 million, another astounding return on investment.
The remakes are also put in stores at a much higher volume when they release on home video. It may be hard to find the original because it is the vault, but the remake is most likely available.
It is, honestly, genius. These movies are only made for money. It is that simple. They are not as risky, have a track record of making money and do not require much originality.
I do think they will not make as much in the ongoing years.
In 2019, three big remakes are releasing through the year. They all are helmed by well-regarded directors, have star-studded casts and are based on some significant Disney films.
The first comes out at the end of the month, on March 29. Dumbo is directed by Tim Burton.
Aladdin is the next to come out on May 24. It is oddly directed by Guy Ritchie and contains an abysmal, blue Will Smith.
The last will be The Lion King, which will release on July 19. It is directed by Jon Favreau, who also directed the 2016 remake of The Jungle Book.
The Lion King is the one I am most excited about, but mainly for the fantastic special effects, as the ones used in The Jungle Book were stellar.
The issue that it is almost too much. Three remakes on top of Marvel films, Disney animated movies and Star Wars, it is just overwhelming. I can see a burnout happening in the near future if Disney keeps over-producing.
Even though I enjoyed The Jungle Book (2016), I just do not see the reason for remakes outside of nostalgia and money. If Disney is insistent on producing these films, keep it to one a year. Three is way too many in one year, especially when all three are remakes of major Disney films.
At the end of the day, as long as these films make money, they will be made. I cannot, in good faith, tell people to avoid these films, though. With extravagant budgets, packed casts and decent to great directors, it is hard not to want to see the remakes.
Bill Murray as Baloo, Christopher Walken as King Louie and the special effects were the only reason I even went to see The Jungle Book.
Though, they still are only about money, and all the positive things about these movies are due to Disney’s extensive resources more than its genuine creativity. If one enjoys Disney films or the source film mainly, these films are made for you. I will wait until they are available on a streaming service and I have nothing to watch.