OPINION | Dear Disney: Please stop producing live-action remakes

Disney is a corporation with ample funding and almost unlimited resources, meaning they should be able to create new, exciting storylines for their movies without having to rely on previous content.

The remakes take away from how great the original animated films were because they add problems to the story that could have been avoided or were avoided by making an animated version. Disney’s first live-action remake, 1994’s “The Jungle Book,” was mediocre at best and the proceeding line up of remakes have not been much better. What happened to Disney being the pioneers of storytelling? The answer is simple: money. 

The phrase, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” seems to be the mantra for Disney’s new era of live-action remakes. However, the phrase should read, “ If it makes us lots of money, why change it?” The “us” refers to the Disney executives who seem to believe they will gain profit from the remake of a story that has already proven successful.

Disney’s live-action “Cinderella” grossed $542.4 million at box offices worldwide, followed by “Beauty and the Beast” at a whopping $1.26 billion in revenue. These were pre-covid movies, so they had the benefit of a box office release. Disney took a huge loss with “Mulan” only grossing $100.4 million, not even half the cost for the production of the film, not to mention the global backlash at misrepresentation, issues with actors and the sudden existence of random characters who did not contribute to the overall story and omission of characters who did, such as Mushu. 

Despite the backlash and mediocre storytelling, people continue to watch the live-action versions of their favorite childhood movies because they want to see the stories come to life. However, they are constantly disappointed when they realize the thin plot that worked for the animated version could not hold in the live-action remake without significant changes in characters, settings and sometimes major plot points.

Who would have thought that a story about losing your shoe and falling in love overnight wouldn’t translate well to live action when you have to add real world problems, backstory and relatability? Nonetheless, money continues to roll in.

On the other hand, Disney claims the pursuit of live-action remakes are due to the change in society’s view of women, gender roles and race.

In an interview with “The Disney Movie Review,” Sony writers Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin said “Since today’s values are more accepting than those of the past, it is important that society can adapt movies to these changing values and still make them enjoyable.”

I understand Disney wants to be with the times; however, why should we settle for a lousy remake when we know the company is capable of creating unique storylines equipped to tell modern fairy tales instead of attempting to mold movies from another era into a version that would be socially acceptable today. The production of “Encanto”, “Luca”, and “Turning Red” are examples of Disney’s ability to create modern storylines that showcase the richness and value of these cultures.

Eventually Disney will run out of movies to remake; hopefully we won’t have to wait that long for them to stop and start being creative again.