It's come to notice that for some time now, Disney Studios has spent much of it's efforts remaking beloved classics and turning them into much more serious, live action movies staring relevant actors and actresses. It seems like an easy way for the Mouse to churn out for sure successes with a decent profit margin, but that doesn't answer everything. When did these really begin? How much profit is Disney even making? How many more movies are we to expect? Is Disney just being lazy?
Let's begin at the beginning shall we?
The first movie to be released from Disney Studios dates back to 1937, with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which made about $8 million. Walt Disney Animation Studios, then, was committed to "beautiful artistry, masterful storytelling and ground-breaking technology". The original story was a fairy tale originally recorded by the Brother's Grimm. It was the first full length cel (hand drawn) animation feature film. In 1939, at the 11th Academy Awards it was given an honorary Oscar after having been nominated for best musical score the year before. Needless to say, the bar was set high. Disney Studio's latest animated release, Zootopia, came out March 4, 2016. It was an original computer animated film that has grossed $336,429,682 as of June 2nd. Between then, Disney Studios has released over 100 animated films and shorts.
Their first live action movie remake that Disney has done could safely be 101 Dalmations, released in 1996 starring Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, Jeff Daniels as Roger, and Joely Richarson as Anita. This movie was based off the 1961 101 Dalmatians and grossed over $320 million.
In reality, Disney has only released 6 remakes of it's own movies, excluding sequels not based on released animated films. Why does it feel like there are so many?
Because of the spacing of it all. Alice in Wonderland was released in 2010, and though it's sequel has just come out, the true kickoff of this phase of movie remakes was Disney's Maleficent (2014). The dark fantasy grossed over $758 Million worldwide, making it the 4th highest grossing film of 2014. Following Maleficent is Cinderella (2015) and the Jungle Book (2016), both of which having grossed over $500 million. That's a movie every year so far. With more to come.
Disney Studio's announced it's plans to continue producing remakes into 2019, with titles such as Mulan, Dumbo, Aladdin, and WInnie the Pooh. Beauty and the Beast is set to be released in 2017, starring Emma Watson.
In a way, Disney has made an almost fool proof method of success. Take a beloved story that people are already familiar with, give it a "fresh" take, add relevant celebrities and voila. Commercial success. No risk with new ideas. No problem.
But are remakes better than original stories? It can be argued that those original (even if not entirely) animations were a part of the childhood of a wide range of people. It showed a kind of commitment to story telling as well as exciting adventures that haven't been taken yet.
With out a doubt though, some of these remakes are still exciting regardless.