Movies & TV / Columns

The State of Live-Action Disney Remakes

November 16, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Live-Action Disney Remakes

If you’re not a fan of the current push of Disney live-action remakes, you might want to stay out of the theaters for a while…wait a minute. That came out wrong. 

What I meant to say is Disney is still planning to go full speed ahead and is bringing Jon M. Chu on board to do a live-action remake of Lilo & Stitch, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  

In case you didn’t know, the Hawaii-centric story was built around the bond formed between a lonely girl named Lilo and a dog-like alien named Stitch, who is engineered to be a force of destruction. Throw in some pursuing aliens, social workers, and the idea of the bond of a family and you got a pretty fun animated feature. While it was a decent success at the box office, it really gained steam in the after market, with a number of direct-to-video sequels, TV series, and numerous kids merchandise. 

This is coming on the heels of the live-action Mulan that skipped theaters (for obvious reasons) and hit on Disney+, which was a huge risk for the company. Depending on how you want to frame the numbers, Disney reported a 68% increase in Disney+ downloads in anticipation of the movie’s release. In addition, subscribers spent 193% more on the Disney+ app, largely due to the fee required to watch Mulan.

Coming up next is the Emma Stone fronted Cruella with The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pinocchio, Bambi, Robin Hood, Hercules, Peter Pan and Wendy and…I’m sure I missed one or two. 

Even if they have a stumble or two, some protests, or bad press, they’ll push on. 2019’s Aladin made over $1 billion at the box office worldwide. Leading up to its release, the movie had taken a number of hits on social media, with plenty of analysts hedging their bets on how the movie will perform. Disney’s plan for these “live-action remakes” has been simple. Use modern CGI to enhance the movie experience for stories that audiences are familiar with from their animated catalog.

So far it has been a sound strategy in terms of money and fan reaction and it looks like there is no end in sight for them to keep mining this plan. Disney is confident that families will come out to see their favorite stories on the big screen. Or small screen.
I’ve mentioned in the past that it’s just a matter of time before Disney announces that they will be making animated versions of these live-action remakes, bringing things to a full circle. While that idea seems laughable, it’s entirely possible as new demographics grow up in a world where the live-action movies are all they know.

How soon will it be before we hear about a live version of Frozen? I’d venture to guess not too long. What are your thoughts on Disney’s live-action corner? Any animated features that you want to see?