Last updateMon, 29 Apr 2019 1pm


Where’s the Disney Magic?

Why Disney is Rebooting Old Movies

Disney Rebooting Old MoviesIt was 1996 when the first Disney live-action remake was released, which starred Glenn Close dressed as a cunning fashion connoisseur with a large number of spotted puppies.

It was such a box-office success that it even gained itself a sequel four years later.

Disney was onto something cinematically daring for them, but nonetheless it was a financial success. 

That 101 Dalmatians VHS tape was always on standby whenever my family had to take a rather long trip, with my sisters and I piled in the backseats of the SUV watching the same scenes over and over.

The kids of that time, which would include most of us college students, loved Disney’s shift into live-action film.

How about now though? Is the magic of live-action film lost for Disney?

Disney remakes are not new to the big screen.

The first Disney live-action remake was 101 Dalmatians, which recreated the magic from the 1961 animated feature and broke box office records the weekend after it was released in theaters.

The sequel, 102 Dalmatians, was released a few years later and performed just as well in the box-office when it grossed $180 million.

Disney did well with 101 Dalmatians with its leap into live-action films but decided to take a break.

Disney resurrected the idea in 2010 with the Tim Burton directed Alice in Wonderland, which was released with actors such as Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, and Crispin Glover.

Ten years after the success of their first attempt at a live-action, Wonderland grossed $115 million in its opening weekend, and roughly $1 billion worldwide.

Safe to say Disney was on the right track.

Nowadays, Disney is taking the success of live-action films and running with it.

It would not be a dramatic statement to say they are sprinting full force.

Disney’s plans for 2019 include live-action remakes of Aladdin, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, Chip n’ Dale, and many more. The question then becomes, who is seeing these films?

Maryanne Rhett, Ph.D., an associate professor in the history and anthropology department, believes that the demographics can vary.

“I think this depends greatly on what the remake is of. If, for example, it is the remake of a 1990s film, like The Little Mermaid, the main demographic would likely be people who had been kids/teenagers at the time of its release, and likely their children,” said Rhett.   

Disney centers their whole mantra around making dreams come true and offering happiness when the real world is anything but.

The studio promises an escape, and can be a source of nostalgia for older adults and emerging adults alike. 

Christi Ruggiero, a senior communication student, believes there is a nostalgia factor to the films.

“I would think more-so adolescents than adults would watch Disney remakes because of the nostalgia factor; however, parents may bring their kids,” Ruggiero stated.

Disney already knows their fanbase when releasing these live-action films.

They know that an older audience will take their children or grandchildren to see them; partly to relive a memory from their childhood or to share the sentiment with the future generation.

Either way, it certainly plays up to Disney’s mantra. It also doesn’t hurt to have actors such as Emma Watson and Johnny Depp as your main stars.

If these live-action remakes are successful for Disney in 2019, similar to how they were in 2010 with Alice in Wonderland, we may find them to be more abundant than ever.

But there is always the looming possibility that it will become an exhausted medium for Disney.

“I really enjoyed the Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast remakes! I actually tried to get my dad to watch The Jungle Book remake with me and he didn’t seem interested so I am not sure if it would appeal to that generation as much,” Ruggiero concluded.

My 23-year-old sister, the same girl that watched 101 Dalmatians in the SUV with me as a child, is super elated to have me tag along with her for the Dumbo remake. No joke, I am staring at her Dumbo stuffed animal from childhood as I write this (sorry Sam).

Disney knows what they are doing, and has no intention of stopping.


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