**This is a reader-submitted post by Sean Nasuti**
In a few weeks, Disney’s live-action remake of its 1991 animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, hits theaters. For many people, it’s easily one of Disney’s most anticipated films of the year, and it continues Disney’s current and very successful trend of doing live-action re-imaginings of its animated classics. However, not everyone has been on board with the studio’s plan, especially considering that, at this point, almost every major Disney animated film has either had a remake made or has one in the works. While I do respect those who aren’t big on them, allow me to make some arguments as to why these remakes aren’t the worst things in the world.
Reason 1 – Some of the recent ones have been good
Now, of course, this is a subjective argument, just like film itself. Even the most successful of Disney’s remakes have had its critics. However, at the very least, the most recent of Disney’s remakes have done well with both critics AND audiences. Of course, it wasn’t like that at first. 2010’s Alice in Wonderland and 2014’s Maleficent received extremely polarizing reviews from critics. And believe me when I say that I’ve seen the stances of people on both sides of the spectrum, those who loved them and those who absolutely detested them.
But then came 2015’s Cinderella, the first of these remakes that did well with both critics AND audiences. To this day, it maintains a solid 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed over $500 million worldwide. Again, it had its critics, but in this case, there’s no denying that it was a genuine success story from both a critical and commercial standpoint.
The following year, Disney’s ‘live-action hot streak’ continued with not one but two critically and commercially successful remakes: The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon. The former was one of the best-reviewed films of 2016, and it made almost $1 billion worldwide. And while the latter didn’t make as much at the box office, which is understandable given that its source material isn’t as well-known, it surprisingly did well with critics. In short, no matter how good or bad these future Disney remakes do with critics, these past three will always stand as proof that they can be done and that they can be done well. And, really, at the end of the day, why step on someone’s parade if they liked one of these films?
Reason 2 – There is potential for new takes on these stories
Many will agree that one of the best things that a remake can do is create a new take on a classic story, and that’s why I’m genuinely looking forward to a lot of these upcoming Disney remakes. Sure, some of them will no doubt share some major similarities to their animated counterparts but never to the point where they’re literally just a ‘carbon copy’ of their original sources. 2014’s Maleficent was the tale of Sleeping Beauty but told from the perspective of its iconic villainess. And while 2015’s Cinderella was basically just the same general story as the original, it did make some changes here and there, namely some more scenes between Cinderella and Prince Charming prior to the ball.
The same situation is clearly being applied to the new Beauty and the Beast. It’s the same story, but there are some differences here and there to help set it apart from the original, like Belle being an inventor like her father and some new songs by the one and only Alan Menken. In the case of The Jungle Book, director Jon Favreau utilized elements from both the original animated film and Rudyard Kipling’s novel on which both are based, and ultimately it was more like the latter than the former. And finally, with Pete’s Dragon, it’s arguably the most ‘different’ of the Disney remakes when compared to its predecessor. While some fans of the original weren’t too pleased with the new film being a drama instead of a musical, to the point where they even referred to it as ‘Pete’s Dragon in name only’, it was still, technically speaking, a ‘new spin’ on the story of a boy and his green dragon.
Reason 3 – Nothing. Is. Getting. Replaced.
It seems to me like this is the main issue of those who oppose the Disney remakes. They fear that these remakes are the studio’s way of saying that the originals don’t matter anymore; that animation is inferior.
This isn’t the case at all. Because no matter how good or bad these upcoming remakes turn out, the originals will still be there at the end of the day. This isn’t like the original Star Wars trilogy, a situation in which George Lucas has actively kept us fans from viewing the films in their original, unaltered form. Case in point, a fancy new Blu-Ray edition of Beauty and the Beast was just released a few months ago, just in time for the new film. If Disney supposedly doesn’t care about the originals, then why did they release this new edition? Sure, there have been a few behind-the-scenes videos for the remake in which the cast and crew say stuff along the lines of ‘technology allows us to do things that weren’t possible back in 1991’, but that’s just the marketing material talking.
At the end of the day, if some of these remakes don’t turn out so good, what really is lost? Nothing! The originals are still here. They won’t disappear in a cloud of dust, and their reputations won’t be tarnished by their new adaptations. If anything, it will just make the originals better by comparison. This really ties in with the common mentality that the internet’s film fan community has towards remakes in general, not just the Disney ones. My final take on this, however: it’s a mentality, not a reality.
Edited by: Kelly Conley