Everything old is new again, as it always has been in Hollywood. But now, instead of just straight‐up remakes, some of the industry’s most well‐known directors — including Guy Ritchie, Jon Favreau, Bill Condon and Kenneth Branagh — are embracing the live‐action trend in order to put their own signature on new versions of beloved Disney animated classics.
While this trend has heated up in recent years, it’s not necessarily new. Surely you haven’t forgotten 1996’s 101 Dalmatians or 2000’s 102 Dalmatians, both starring Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil? Or the first live‐action Jungle Book from 1994, which featured real (not CGI!) animals?
OK maybe you did forget about that last one.
After 102 Dalmatians, a decade would pass before Disney released another live‐action version of one of its older films. This time around it was Alice in Wonderland, brought to spectacularly kooky life by director Tim Burton in 2010, with Mia Wasikowska in the title role and Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.
But the film that really seemed to kick off the rush to convert more Disney classics into live-action movies was 2014’s Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. Technically this wasn’t a remake, but rather a retelling of 1959’s Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective.
Maleficent was a magnificent success, raking in more than $750 million at the box office worldwide, thereby ensuring: 1) that there would be a sequel (the upcoming Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, hitting theaters in October), and 2) that the studio would get more aggressive about its future live‐action lineup.
Since that point we’ve had live‐action versions of Alice Through the Looking Glass, Pete’s Dragon, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, the new‐to‐the‐Box Dumbo, Aladdin (from May of this year), the upcoming The Lion King (hitting theaters in a few weeks), the aforementioned Maleficent sequel, and then Lady and the Tramp this fall on Disney’s new TV channel. Whew!
But that’s not the end of the list — not even close. Live‐action versions are already in the works for Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Cruella (giving the Maleficent treatment to 101 Dalmatian’s villain… and starring Glenn Close once again!), Pinocchio, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch, a Jungle Book sequel and not one, but two Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs movies (one is supposedly about Snow White’s sister, Rose Red). This list ensures years and years to come of live‐action remakes.
So at this point I think the question is, what Disney movie hasn’t or isn’t receiving the live-action treatment? The Rescuers popped into my head … any others you can think of?