Is Disney Creating a Live-Action Renaissance?



We live in an age of ‘reboots’ so it’s perfectly natural that the biggest entertainment company on the planet - Disney - has jumped on board and gotten in on the action.

Disney has found yet another way to reinvent themselves, going from strength to strength – this time in the form of live-action remakes. Now, we aren’t just talking about Disney live action films – Disney has been doing live-action forever (think Mary Poppins and The Parent Trap). We are talking about the re-creating of Disney’s classic animated films into live-action versions, which are taking the world by storm.

With the release of Beauty and the Beast breaking box office records earlier this year, Disney fans are living the dream as Disney announces more live-action adaptations, almost all of which are remakes of animated films from the Disney renaissance.

It’s undeniable that Disney is on a roll with their live-action remakes, and the success of Beauty and the Beast has left few to question why Disney would plan out over a dozen more live-action remakes to roll out over the next few years. By taking the nostalgia of the classic renaissance films we love, and fleshing it out with real people, Disney has been able to create a new hybrid of Disney films that are as appealing to children, as they are to adults.

As we prepare for the oncoming string of remakes, we take a look at the live-action remakes that Disney has given us so far, as well as what’s in store for us next, and ask the question:

What is this new canon they are creating? Could it be the next Disney Renaissance?



The Live-Action Remakes So Far


The beginning of this new renaissance can be traced back to 2007 when Disney released its half animated/half live-action film Enchanted. While it is not a remake, the film offers what is almost an animated film and live-action remake in one, depicting Giselle’s story in both the animated world, and in the real world. The film was received well both at the Box Office and by critics, and garnered several awards. The success of Enchanted prompted Disney to think about what this success might mean, and how they might use this success going forward.

What followed was a long line of live-action film remakes, which seemed to gather with increasing speed. 2010 saw the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and in 2014 Maleficent was a commercial success, making a whopping $758 million at the box office. After this, things picked up pace.

2015 saw the release of Cinderella which was the director’s highest grossing film to date. The following year saw the release of two live-action remakes: Pete’s Dragon and The Jungle Book, and this year has already opened with the box office smashing hit Beauty and the Beast.

Of course, true Disnerds have been religiously following Disney’s Once Upon a Time which serves as an anthology of live-action stories, all plucked from the Disney canon.

With all of these live-actions coming out and being so well received both critically, and financially, it’s no wonder that Disney have announced what’s next for their live-action plan, in this new renaissance.



The Live-Action Remakes to Come


After years of speculation, Disney confirmed in October that a live-action version of Mulan will be hitting our screens in late 2018. Since then, Walt Disney Studios has confirmed a string of new live-action films which are set to roll out over the next few years:

  • Aladdin
  • The Lion King
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Dumbo
  • Snow White
  • Pinnochio
  • Peter Pan
  • The Sword in the Stone
  • Cruella
  • Prince Charming
  • Fantasia
  • Maleficent 2

While not all of these films original animated versions are from the first Disney Renaissance, they are all classic Disney films that hearken back to its magical past - a nostalgic time in the Disney canon, so it’s interesting that these films are the ones being chosen for a fresh adaptation. While Tangled did very well critically, and at the box office, a live-action repackaged version of Rapunzel hasn’t been announced by the Disney company, which begs the original question:

What is this new canon they are creating? Could it be the next Disney Renaissance?



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