Movies & TV / Columns

What’s the Future of Disney’s Live-Action Movies?

March 20, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Disney live-action remakes are here to stay! Not even a minor controversy like LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick, was gay, could stop the Beauty and the Beast juggernaut at the box office.

Beauty and the Beast landed one of the top 10 openings of all time and the biggest ever for a PG title, both in North America and overseas.

Director Bill Condon’s movie opened to an incredible $170 million and overseas the classic tale earned $180 million for a total of $350 million.

The Disney classic set a number of new records, including the biggest start ever for a PG title both in North America and abroad and it surpassed the $166 million domestic debut of last year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice to land the top March opening of all time. Beauty and the Beast can also brag about having the seventh-biggest domestic opening for any film, and the biggest outside of summer save for December 2015 opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, not accounting for inflation.

“There were a combination of factors that made this a recipes for success. There was a nostalgia for the original and the Disney brand. Plus, there is an iconic soundtrack with old and new songs. Emma Watson was perfectly cast as Belle. The visual effects were also their own character,” said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis. “And I love our date. We have five weeks of rolling spring break ahead of us.”

It looks like Disney has yet anther blueprint for success. So what does the future hold?

Nostalgia is the name of the game and by bringing familiar animated classics back to the big screen in live-action form, it looks like they have found a perfect balance. Disney is banking on the formula for after a string of box office hits remakes like The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland proved audiences would support seeing their favorite characters in a new light.

Next on their schedule is Mulan. The tale of a Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man to fight in her father’s place during a war will be an interesting project. There are at least two live-action Mulan projects currently in the works, with Sony and Disney both attempting to bring their version to the big screen. The Disney project’s recently announced director Niki Caro and she revealed something that has fans scratching their heads. In an interview with Moviefone, Caro confirmed that her film will be “a big, girly martial arts epic” with “no songs right now.”

That;s right. No songs.

Caro also noted that Mulan will also be “extremely muscular and thrilling and entertaining and moving.” Just without singing.

One Disney movie that better have songs is Aladdin. This remake of the 1992 animated film, which won Academy Awards for Best Score and Best Song, will have Guy Ritchie directing. Sean Baliey,President of Motion Picture Production, spoke with Vulture about what we can expect from Richie.

“Guy became interested in doing a Disney movie and we talked a lot about it. When we talked about Aladdin, he said, ‘My stories are really about street hustlers. That’s what I know how to do. And Aladdin is a classic street hustler who makes good.’ Guy’s got his own version of that story in his life. But he wanted to honor and respect the Disney of it all,” Bailey said. “We never want to feel like we have a playbook to these things because we worry it’ll make us creatively complacent. The idea of a highly energized Guy Ritchie Disney musical felt like, Oh, we haven’t done that before.”

The floodgates are open. Jon Favreau is directing The Lion King, we’ll get an origin story of Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians with Emma Stone rumored to star, Peter Pan has David Lowery set to direct, and Tinker Bell will get her own live-action with Reese Witherspoon set to play the fairy.

The underrated classic The Sword in the Stone has Brian Cogman, a writer-producer for HBO’s Game of Thrones, set to write the remake about a young King Arthur.

Pinocchio and Winnie the Pooh are in early stages of development and Tim Burton is lined up to bring Dumbo to the screen, with a script that has expanded on the original story with some added changes, including the introduction of a human family.

Rose Red (Snow White) will put a new twist on the classic and Prince Charming will get the spotlight in his own movie.

Disney knows they have guaranteed box office receipts and the machine is working to bring their vault back to the forefront.

What do you think of the new live-action game plan? Are you a fan?