Disney’s Live Action Remakes: The Death of Disney’s Magic (12th)


Althea Millman (12th), Reporter

For years now, the Walt Disney Company, a beloved worldwide organization known for its magic and originality, has relied primarily on CGI-heavy, live-action remakes of their older, original, animated films. 


This reliance on the longevity of their original movies as well as their reliance on new technology to do them justice is keeping them from producing new content. The endless stream of these live-action remakes has only gotten worse and some people, including even the most die-hard fans, are beginning to take notice.


“… it seems like they’re taking the scripts that they had that were successful earlier on… and they’re revamping them now to try to appeal to a newer audience…” says interviewee and Junior on campus, Tristan Allen.


Some of the most recent remakes include Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), Beauty and the Beast (2017), Dumbo (2019), Aladdin (2019), The Lion King (2019) Cruella/101 Dalmatians (2020), and Mulan (2020). 


The fact that there has been or is set to be seven different live-action remakes within the last five years alone, proves Disney’s obsession with regurgitating old content. Not to mention, there are several other films set to begin production who’s release date has yet to be announced. 


“[If] you look back at the history of the past five years…[you see] they’ve redone a lot of their original, classical, animated movies and I think it’s gotten out of hand.” Allen states.


One of the things that makes Disney so special is the revolutionary animation they use in their movies. Despite this, Disney is purposefully choosing to set aside their well-loved animation style and instead jump on the CGI bandwagon. While there is bound to be some who are excited by their more frequent use of CGI, many fans are starting to miss the “old Disney” and I’m not sure I can blame them.


While the new technology is impressive, CGI is not always effective or appropriate within Disney’s classic storylines. For instance, it can be startling for an audience to watch a story about lions that talk and act like humans but be looking at something that looks like an actual, real-life lion. When stories like The Lion King are portrayed using animation, the audience can set aside what they know about the world and maintain their suspension of disbelief. However, when animation is taken out of the equation, it becomes much harder for the audience to believe what they’re watching.


Allen explains how in addition to CGI technology taking away from the believability factor of Disney’s movies, “The dependence upon technology has [also] deeply affected how the Disney magic works…”.


Disney built its multi-billion-dollar company on its originality. The world fell in love with their original storylines and the beautiful animation they used to bring them to life. This is what is known as  “the Disney magic” or in other words the special quality that Disney content has and what makes it so special and unique. This magic though, is rapidly dissipating as the company continues to pump out the same content. 


Die-hard fans and casual viewers alike really only want one thing: to be entertained. A rerelease of the same original movies from decades ago with the only change being a shiny, ‘new’ look generated using technology like CGI will not achieve that. 


Disney’s attempt to revitalize their classics in this way is the same as if M&M’s slapped a ‘NEW’ sticker on a candy that’s only new quality was a different color. 


“The original version was the one that was hand-drawn and animated… it took a lot of work but [they] put forth the effort to do it because that’s what was magical and now it seems like they’re just doing it for monetary purposes.” Allen expresses.


If Disney truly has monetary-driven motives for putting so much of their recent efforts into live-action remakes, I’m afraid that they will not have much luck. With the rate and consistency that they are releasing these types of movies, the Disney Magic that so many have come to love will disappear before our eyes before we know it.