A Case Against Disney Cartoon Remakes

Originally, I was going to write up a review about the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live-action remake, but the more I considered it, the more I realized it was better to take a different direction. The Beauty and the Beast remake is essentially a frame-for-frame copy of the cartoon. That isn’t to say that changes weren’t made, but overall, the cartoon to live-action transfer is fully complete to ignite millennial nostalgia. It’s a gorgeous CGI-display of Emma Watson’s Beauty prancing in the open fields and Dan Steven’s Beast growling and mostly being angry until he’s not supposed to be anymore. Musical lovers will gush at all the wonderfully choreographed singing and dancing scenes and Disney fanatics will be perfectly happy accepting this newly repackaged gift. In other words, there’s nothing I’m going to tell you that will change your mind about seeing Beauty and the Beast, with one exception. We deserve better. Yes, remakes and reboots are inevitable but from a massive creative conglomerate like Disney, it really shouldn’t be. When has Disney ever gone back into their precious vault to repackage and repurpose their film property? If anything, it's been few and far between. Over the decades, Disney’s success has been in its ability to push the envelope, find new stories, and tell them in exciting new ways. By looking back to the past and jumping on the nostalgia train in order to plant new money trees, Disney effectively is in retreat. Rather than coming up with unique and powerful stories that will excite us like they once did, they are going to sit on their laurels. Life long Disney fans and the general audience shouldn’t be taken for granted. We all deserve more. So far, Disney has made three live-action remakes, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast, and are gearing up to make plenty more, including Aladdin, Mulan, The Little Mermaid, among many others. Disney knows everyone will see a familiar title like The Little Mermaid and scream with delight, begging to see it in live-action. They know they can re-brand all of these properties, get people in the theater, and proceed to swim with glee in their Scrooge McDuck money vault. As a Disney fan, I respectfully ask you to take off the rose-colored glasses and think it through before mindlessly handing over your money to see any more of these live-action remakes. Yes, the remakes so far have been really good. I praised The Jungle Book and I think The Beauty and the Beast is similar in quality and style -- but if I could pick between Disney making new original films rather than dredging up old ones, I’d pick new films every time. It's doubtful they'll put much focus toward new films when all their attention is on remakes, the easier and less risk-averse option.  Of course, you know the answer to put Disney back on track. I honestly shouldn’t even have to say it but I will anyway. Stop going to Disney’s live-action cartoon remakes. And start with Beauty and the Beast. A decline in popularity and sales is the only way to show a studio that their gimmick isn’t going to work. A great example is when they tried to break up movies into “Parts” on popular young adult franchises like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Eventually, people got tired of it and sales declined. The Divergent Series saw the brunt of that sad decline as their last movie (Ascendant) is heading straight to TV. How we spend our money speaks volumes and we deserve better than these Disney remakes. While I know you might be frothing at the mouth to see a live-action version of your favorite cartoon, perhaps think about the bigger picture. Let’s stop the Disney cartoon remake train one movie theater ticket at a time.     Photos courtesy of: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures  

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