What is the foolproof recipe for a blockbuster? Well, according to Disney, it’s “take an animated movie that was already a major success and remake it into a CGI/live-action feature film”. It has already happened to The Jungle Book (1967/2016) Beauty and the Beast (1991/2017), and it is happening to Dumbo, The Lion King, Aladdin, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, too. Apparently, Disney wants to remake the most beautiful movies from our childhood into CGI/live-action versions and re-release them in cinemas. And so far, it seems to be working great for them.
What movies’ live-action version we’ll get to see next? Will it be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? Will it be Pinocchio? Both of these tales have been said before, in every form from live-action to puppet film. Will it be Treasure Planet, the sci-fi retelling of R. L. Stevenson’s immortal adventure tale, featuring interstellar pirates and mindless robots? Or Atlantis: The Lost Empire? Actually, I wouldn’t mind these, as they would be a great addition to the world of science-fiction. Considering how many feature-length animated movies Disney has released in the last eighty years, there is a lot of material to turn to.
And what about other studios? Will DreamWorks Animations do a live-action version of The Road to El Dorado? Actually, this might be a great idea – it would make a great adventure movie, grandiose, and exciting. And how about Fox? After becoming part of the Mouse House, Disney will become the owner of Titan A. E., a great animated science fiction flick that “could’ve been better” – and it might, with a live-action version.
How about hybrid movies that meld animated characters with live actors? Warner has shown that it works – it has released an insanely successful Space Jam in 1996 and a decent Looney Tunes: Back in Action“. MGM wants to try its hand at this format, too, with a planned revival of Tom and Jerry, the most successful short comedy cartoon series ever created. Tim Story (the Ride Along series) is attached to direct, and filming is set to start later this year.
Why do Disney – and some other studios – work so hard to retell the same story in a different format? Well, while there is a certain financial side to it – aside from the ticket sales themselves, there are other ways to make money off a movie, from theme parks to lunch boxes and action figures – the most important part is preserving the magic. After all, it’s much more exciting to go to the cinema and watch the new version of The Lion King than it is to buy a DVD or download a file and watch it at home, no matter how big the TV screen in your living room might be.