Arts and Entertainment

The Disney Problem: Part 2

Are franchise-less movies being killed by Disney?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“You realize that our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past.” —Chuck Palahniuk, author of “Fight Club” (1996).

He’s not wrong.

This quote accurately defines a growing trend in Hollywood. Studios are finding that producing original content is much more of a risk than revisiting time-tested and fan-loved properties that are guaranteed to make a quick buck. Mega-corporations like Disney understand that for every original box office smash like “Avatar” (2010), there are a dozen flops like “Serenity” (2019), an original movie that got terrible reviews and didn’t make much of anything at theaters.

Beginning with “Alice in Wonderland” (2010) and stretching to “The Lion King” (2019), the Disney live-action remakes have stretched 11 films and counting. That may sound like a lot, but it's just the beginning, as Disney has 15 more live-action remakes in various stages of production at the moment, bringing back titles ranging from “The Little Mermaid” (1989) to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996).

If you’ve read part one, then you’ll know that I am not a fan of the live-action remakes. It’s not because I don’t think that they’re good. In fact, I’ve actually enjoyed a bunch of them. Disney usually knows how to make a good movie, especially if it’s based on quality source material. However, we see how Disney’s remaking skills can go very wrong with movies like “The Lion King,” “Dumbo” (2019), and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” (2016).

There are two main reasons that I really dislike the Disney remakes.

First, when Disney remakes an animated classic, they forget about an aspect of the original that made it so great in the first place: if these movies were meant to be made in live action, they would be. The movies are animated because they are supposed to capture things that simply cannot be made using a camera and real actors.

This is extremely evident in movies like “The Lion King.” In real life, lions do not smile or frown like humans do. In real life, birds can’t move their beaks in a way that imitates human speech. You can’t try to make an anatomically correct animal and expect it to behave like a human when you make it talk or emote. When I watched the film, I felt totally sucked out of the movie during the most emotional scenes, because when they were smiling, they looked the same as when they were frowning, making it hard to empathize with any of the characters.

This exact reason is why I fear for the quality of the upcoming “Little Mermaid” remake. While in the animated classic, Ariel lives in an aquatic wonderland filled with brightly-colored, cute talking fish, real life fish are not cute at all, but rather… gross. It will be unsettling to watch a real human surrounded by actual, slimy, scaly fish in the live-action version.

This brings me to my second concern. Disney has dozens of spin-offs, remakes, adaptations, prequels, and sequels in the works, and I fear that soon, the lack of original content will become a big problem for moviegoers. Movies that will give audiences new stories, adventures, and ideas are being sidelined for surefire box office smashes that just tread on territory that has already been visited.

Remakes, however, are the worst of all of the franchise continuations. At least when a prequel or sequel to a movie comes out [“Avengers: Endgame” (2019), “Monsters University” (2013)], they add something new to already existing properties, whether it be new stories, characters, or at the very least, a different script. Remakes are basically the film equivalent of tracing a picture. It is both blatant copying and undoubtedly worse. Sure, you can add fancy colors or some finishing touches to a traced picture, but in the end, it’s not the original, and it never will be. These classic movies’ originals left such an impression on audiences because they were fresh and original when they came out. Remaking a movie 20 to 30 years later simply can’t recapture that glory.

Disney has started something that can’t be stopped, at least for the foreseeable future. With 15 new remakes planned, and each new remake making hundreds of millions, there’s no end in sight. I’m not sure there’s much we can do about this problem as consumers, and some people may (justifiably) not see it as a problem at all. I mean, some of the remakes are good, and there are some future titles to be excited about. However, this rapid-fire production of remakes is a call for us as individuals to go support original content in our theaters and ensure that production of fresh, creative new movies isn’t stemmed by the remake machine.