A new era of Disney remakes

Samerah Begzad,

I’ve been a Disney lover ever since I was a child. I’ve always loved how Disney makes me feel happy, and the uniqueness of each story.

One of my favorite Disney movies is not an original but a remake. 2014’s “Maleficent” tells the tale of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of its iconic villainess. Maleficent was appealing to me because she was a hopeless romantic who fell in love with the wrong person, and that man betrayed her by ripping her beautiful wings off. It was heartbreaking seeing her cry in the movie, but “Maleficent” is my favorite because it’s a story about a villainess, not your average Disney princess story. And it shows why the villainess became evil in the first place.

Maleficent is part of a new Disney trend: to remake or reinterpret classic animated tales as live-action films and produce sequels to some of those timeless stories. Live-action versions of Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, the Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast have already hit theaters in the past several years.

And luckily for fans like me, more remakes are on the way. Disney recently announced that they are coming out with at least a dozen or more live-action remakes of their old animated movies and new sequels as well.

“Maleficent 2” is set to come out between 2018 and 2019. Disney will also remake “Mulan,” and have started to develop “Aladdin” and an adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” according to news reports. Emma Stone is set to start in a “101 Dalmatians” remake called “Cruella.” According to news reports, Disney is releasing more live-action movies based on the success of “The Jungle Book” and “Maleficent.” Disney’s new strategy is to mine its own archives for new material.

The current resurgence began back in 2010, when Tim Burton turned Disney’s 1951 classic “Alice in Wonderland” into a vibrant vehicle for Johnny Depp. It was a massive financial success, raking in more than a billion dollars at the global box office. The studio took note, and last year followed it up with a reimagined “Sleeping Beauty” — the villain-centric “Maleficent,” which grossed more than $750 million worldwide. These creative, alternative takes on the classics were inspiring and seemed to lay the groundwork for an exciting era at Disney.

Disney’s 1964 movie Mary Poppins, which earned Julie Andrews an academy award for best actress, is getting a sequel with a new cast. “Mary Poppins Returns,” starring British actress Emily Blunt, is set to come out on Dec. 25, 2018, and will closely follow the plot of the book series by P. L. Travers, according to the New York Times. The project has drawn criticism from some fans of the original film, but Ms. Andrews, 81, has reportedly given her blessing to the sequel.

Disney’s efforts to produce sequels and live-action movies has generated mixed reviews. Disney’s remake of Beauty and the Beast “isn’t just a remake; it’s an act of cinematic upholstery, with all the padding that implies,” according to Los Angeles Times. “The Jungle Book” and “Cinderella” garnered more positive reviews.

These new releases will give Disney lovers something new — yet classic — to look forward to in a different way. It’s a smart way to keep those fans’ childhood memories alive, and something committed fans no doubt hoped Disney would eventually do.