Disney Remakes: Why so Blue?

Niamh Brook - Writer

Everyone knows it. Disney is one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. With their animation studio, multiple bought out studios such as Marvel and Lucasfilm, theme parks and shops. It is clear. Disney is a corporate giant. It is difficult to leave the house and not be faced with one of their products. Whether it be is Let it Go blaring on the radio over and over again (a dated reference, I know) or Mickey Mouse smiling at you from across the cereal aisle. As of 2017, Disney now owns 27% of the entertainment industry after its purchase of Fox. This percentage is colossal and can be seen to have a major impact on our consumption of media and how we interact with it.

Until recent years, Disney was known for its spellbinding animation, thus creating the well known stereotype, “Disney is for kids”. Which is true. It is. Those who watch the Disney animations, no matter how hard they resist, are enveloped by Disney’s charm although many do not wish to admit this. In later years, Disney has made efforts to rid themselves of this image. Though they still brand themselves as “magical”, after the purchase of Marvel and Lucasfilm, they now have the commodities to reach a wider audience. Allowing for fans of these franchises to interact with the franchises they love whilst also enjoying completely new films in addition to the theme park integration: meet and greets, rides and in some cases (Star Wars),whole lands dedicated to the franchise.

Whilst at first glance, this idea that fans are now able to gain a more immersive experience with their favourite films seems like a simple nice thing, at a deeper look, Disney’s real intentions are laid bare.Disney’s main goal is to make money. Now don’t get me wrong,I am a huge Disney fan and have been for many years. I have no issue with Disney purchasing studios to reel in more profit, as in doing this, they are creating new, somewhat original, films based on the old properties. However, in recent years this money making strategy has become ever clearer. Disney has decided that instead to produce remakes of their animated classics as well as pushing sequels to some of their animated films. The focus of this piece however are the remakes! Dun dun dun.

In 2019 alone, there will be three live action films: Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Dumbo shall be released in a number of days. A ‘Tim Burton’ remake of the elephant drama starring a range of Burton alumni such as Eva Green, Danny deVito, and (Batman himself) Michael Keaton. However,the film that has really caught the eye of the general public is Aladdin. I believe this to be the result of numerous factors: the original is one of the most popular animated films, this film is a musical (the second of the live action remakes to be so), and last and by no means least, Blue Will Smith. Yes. The shot that launched a million memes. Blue Will Smith.

Yes, the internet was ablaze when the teaser was released for this film. The first introduction of Smith as the Genie was an interesting one. I can safely say the reaction to this was not strictly positive. For a film with such a high budget, the blue just looked cheap and, to be frank, looked awful.  This brings me on to my next point, has Disney lost it’s artistic integrity? Disney was once a pioneer of new technologies and art design with films like Steamboat Willie and Sleeping Beauty being key examples of the excellent work Disney can produce. Whereas films like Aladdin, feel as though the focus on craft has lost its Disney magic. Granted, this is my biased opinion, but this trailer and the rest of the live action films, just seem to fall flat. The animated counterparts of these films tend to leave a mark on the viewer, usually staying with them for the rest of their lives, whereas the live action films barely even stay with me to the car park.

This leaves me to ask the question: does Disney have a story to tell or a story to sell? Why as the audience do we find ourselves longing to see a film we have watched throughout our entire lives? Disney is fully aware of this, with 14 more live action remakes due in the coming years. It seems to me, Disney is quite possibly leaning towards the money making strategy as opposed to original and groundbreaking animations.

So this leaves me with my final statement. As a massive Disney fan, I will without a doubt pay and view these films in the cinema, stream the soundtrack, and might even splash out on some Primark pajamas that coincide with the film's release. However, I shall go fully aware of the strategies Disney use of which I am a complete sucker too as well as not being to shocked when I’m asked what I thought of the film and my response is,“Meh!”

Photo Credit - Park Troopers - https://unsplash.com/photos/ACv87kYooQQ


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