EDITORIAL: Why Is Disney Remaking Their Own Films?
By Scott Kurland
Next month, Disney is releasing another live-action version of “Cinderella”. If you’re counting, this makes the fourth disney production of glass-slipper wearing girl. You have the original 1950 animated classic. Then in 1997, we have the made for TV musical starring Brandy, Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters, and Whoopi Goldberg. This year alone we have two Cinderellas: Anna Kendrick in “Into The Woods”, and Lily “Lady Rose” James in Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella”. However, this isn’t the end of Disney revitalizing their princesses. Emma Watson was just cast as Belle in a live-action musical version of “Beauty & The Beast”.
Not only is Watson playing Belle, but Disney is supposedly courting Ryan Gosling for the Beast. Yes, I would love the beast to say “Hey Girl” when he sees Belle for the first time too, but let’s get to the heart of this. Why is Disney remaking their own films? The phrase “Have they truly run out of ideas?” has become the most common post on all the boards. Honestly, you may think I’m nuts but I think it’s the smartest plan Disney has.
Here’s why...I’ve started to notice that a lot of young girls, ages 2-4, will only watch certain disney movies and shows. “Frozen” is the most obvious, followed by “Tangled”, and a cartoon called “Doc McStuffins”. I looked up “Doc McStuffins” and, if you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s about a girl who brings her stuffed animals to life so she can play doctor...weird. Actually, this borders on Stephen King. All these shows have something in common, they’re all CGI. The age of hand drawn animation is dead, oh how that saddens me. If girls have the choice of watching Ariel or Elsa, they’re picking Elsa. What does this have to do with remaking animated films? EVERYTHING!! Disney is taking their animated films and blending in real actors into CGI settings; it’s brilliant.
It breaks my heart to say this, but young children do not like watching hand drawn animation anymore. I’ve seen it first hand. Maybe in a few years “Winnie The Pooh” will be appreciated more than “Brave”, but for the time being, it’s real people, computer animals, and computer backgrounds. So why is Disney doing this? I honestly don’t know, but here is my theory. Yes it might have to do with money, but deep down inside I think there’s a little more to this. Frankly. I believe it’s that Disney wants little girls to have a positive female role model who is flesh and blood. Even though it’s an actress, little girls don’t see them as actresses. They see Belle and Cinderella, and whoever else Disney will bring to life. This is why children react with glee when they go to hug the real-life princesses at the Disney parks. To those children the princesses are real, not simply drawing on a page. They would rather hug and pose for a picture with Anna than high five Olaf (a.ka. a 29 year old guy in suit who lives in his mom’s basement and thinks his “Kansas” cover band “Gus In The Wind” is going to make it.)
Do I think Disney is doing this because it is out of original ideas? Possibly. However, I have never been one to buy into that. I think Disney is a smarter beast who is more clever then we suspect. Think about it, people love franchises. So what do we get? A trillion comic book movies a year and a new “Fast & Furious” film to boot. I think Disney is taking popular 80s and 90s animated princesses and turning them into millennial live-action princesses. It’s sloppy, lazy, and just crazy enough to work. Girls need positive influences that aren’t Ke$ha and Miley Cyrus. Belle and Cinderella are the perfect women to lead by example.
Belle is not only beautiful....which Disney says is unimportant because Belle is not only smart, she’s incredibly smart. She reads and she believes in the fantastical. Belle wants to find true love, but that’s not as important as protecting her father and discovering new worlds from reading books. Belle shows young girls how important education and reading are. Also, she serves as the best example of never judging a book by its cover. If something or someone is scary looking, try to see past that person's exterior. See the good, because maybe that person’s inner beauty will outshine an appearance they have no control over.
Cinderella is a little darker. This is more of a reality story for girls, you know, that old chestnut of life being a cruel harsh mistress. Or as the great George Burns called it, “A Horrible Bitch Goddess” . Cinderella is treated poorly by her stepmother and stepsisters. She works as hard as she can and it seems like she’s going to be stuck in a dead end career forever, moping floors and wearing rags. What does she do? She alerts human resources....and by human resources, I mean she calls on her fairy Godmother!!! Cinderella shows girls that yes you can move up in the world and change your stars. Or if we look at this through realistic eyes, young girls can grow up to be powerful successful women and break through that glass slipper!..I mean...glass ceiling, and win in the end.
I know what you’re thinking, Disney is encouraging an entire generation of young ladies. But what about young men? Well, there is the Marvel universe and, with the addition of “Spider-Man,” the message of “with great power comes great responsibility”. I love Marvel and their partnership with Disney, but Disney is playing it smarter than that. Disney is rebooting two of the greatest franchises of all time, “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.
“Star Wars” isn’t being remade per say, but several back stories and spin-offs are being given the cinematic treatment. Haven’t you always wanted to see the origin story of Han Solo, well, Aaron Paul is being courted for the role. Aaron Paul is a wonderful role model for young men, “Breaking Bad” excluded. Paul is a philanthropist. He helps the needy and he is kind to those in need. Young men can learn from him and I think that’s what Disney is going for.
Remaking the story of Henry Jones Jr. you know.....“Indiana Jones,” is on the same level as Belle in my opinion. Here’s another character who is incredibly smart. Actually, he’s a professor of archeology. He’s clever, well read, and has a winning charm to him. Also, Harrison Ford is the coolest man to ever live. So, who can Disney get to live up to this high stature? Star-Lord, Chris Pratt. That’s the rumored name going around Hollywood. Is this a good choice? Absolutely! Star-Lord is similar to Han Solo. Pratt also proved he could handle serious films like “Moneyball” and “Zero Dark Thirty”. Pratt is also great inspiration for boys. Look at Pratt himself! He’s an unconventional male lead. He’ not Andrew Garfield handsome. He’s not super skinny like Joseph Gordon Levitt. He doesn’t have giant muscles like Dwayne Johnson. What does he have? A great outlook on life and a wonderful personality. He’s not overweight and he’s not underweight. He’s the first actor with and average healthy build. He’s also witty, smart, and will show boys how cool Indy can be.
There’s no possible way to talk Disney out of remaking so many films. And with filming beginning this week on the remake of “Pete’s Dragon,” there’s no end to it. However, we can dread another “Indiana Jones”, “Cinderella”, and “Beauty & The Beast”....or we can see it for what it truly is, a chance to educate and inspire future generations of children. WE might not need new recycled films based on beloved children's films, but NEW age groups do. So as the future years spit out remakes and reboots, I say to Disney, “Bring it on!”