If you didn’t watch the Disney animated classics as a child, did you really have a childhood at all? In case you missed all the hubbub about the recent version of The Lion King and its amazing trailer, Disney has decided to go digging through vaults to bring back these animated classics in a big way with live-action depictions.
And why not? Disney has not only crafted some of the most beloved and enduring animated films of all time, but they have also created some of the most iconic characters in movie history as well. A huge fan base has been established for these films and characters, so bringing them back out of the vault for a live-action retelling only seems like the logical thing to do.
This movement, or trend if you will, started back with Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent. All three of those films would go on to find box office success (whether the critics appreciated them or not).
Alice would go on to make over a billion dollars and spawn a sequel (that didn’t turn out so well). Cinderella was modest (to Disney standards) box office success, making over $500 million. Maleficent would end up making over $750 million and has a sequel already in production.
A Great Start to Disney’s Gamble
With those initial three live adaptations, Disney continued their hot streak with a live-action version of The Jungle Book (also getting a sequel), which made over $900 million and garnered some Oscar attention. The same happened for their next live venture, Beauty and the Beast, which earned more than $1 billion at the box office.
Thus far, Disney’s most recent live-action retelling of Christopher Robin has been their only box office question mark. With Mary Poppins Returns slated for release next month and three — yes, I said three — new live-action retellings coming next year in The Lion King, Dumbo, and (my personal favorite) Aladdin, it’s safe to say Disney’s gamble has more than paid off.
A few others have been announced by the studio, such as Mulan, a Cruella De Vil focused spin-off, The Little Mermaid, Pinocchio, and even a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs adaptation. All this live movie talk got me thinking that there are a few ideas that are noticeably missing from the current slate.
It’s these missing ones that have inspired this post. Here are five more that have yet to be unannounced but deserve their shot to be brought out of that deep vault and turned into live-action masterpieces.
This one belongs at the very top of the list. The animated-musical-comedy film was a massive success during its release back in 1997. And I mean…why wouldn’t it be? Especially with iconic performances from James Woods as Hades and Danny DeVito as the lovable, ill-tempered Phil.
Sure, there have been numerous live-action Hercules films, but those films chose dark and gritty over the humorous, light-hearted, and fantastical take Disney brought to the world. The film is full of memorable characters, mystical creatures, a journey of self-discovery, and of course, that amazing soundtrack! With James Woods and Danny DeVito still able to reprise their roles, it seems almost a crime not to make this live-action adaptation happen, so Disney…get on it!
Like Hercules, a few live-action Tarzans has also been attempted, and while not awful…nothing holds a candle to the Disney classic. Maybe that’s because it was missing the brilliant vocals of one Phil Collins! The music definitely elevated the film, there’s no doubt about it, but the story lends itself well to an adaptation.
With bold and unforgettable characters, (looking at you Turk, voiced by Rosie O’Donnell), and a story that sends the message of acceptance and unconditional love, a live action remake could be both humorous and emotional. And if Disney really wants to hit hard on the emotional side, just bring back Sir Phil to perform his classic songs from the original!
Starting to see a trend yet? Yes, here is another Disney classic that has had other studios attempt their own live-action re-tellings. When are they going to learn? Just leave these retellings to the pros — Disney.
This is a story that would, without a doubt, appeal to children and adults. A lot of kids cannot wait to grow up, but adults wish they could go back to being kids when life was much simpler. Imagine a fantasy land that allows you stay a child forever?
Like all Disney films, this one boasts colorful and unforgettable characters from the Lost Boys and Tinker Bell, to the villainous (and humorous) Captain Hook, to Peter Pan himself. We deserve an adaption of the boy who refuses to grow up done right, and Disney would be the studio to make that happen.
Pocahontas became an instant Disney classic upon its release. Not only because it was one of Disney’s first to feature a non-white female lead, but it also boasted beautiful visuals and empowering songs of growth, faith and unity.
The film featured its main female lead as a beautiful, empowered Native American warrior princess and really turned the princess stereotype on its head. She doesn’t need saving or a man to help her accomplish her goals. This story really is one of female empowerment, but it also still is a love story at its’ core.
Another story that preaches acceptance and unconditional love as Pocahontas falls for a white man, which at that time was not accepted by either culture. In today’s society, any story that preaches that it’s okay to love whoever you choose to love is more than welcome.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Despite this Disney classic being based upon “less-than-friendly” source material, this film is widely considered as one of Disney’s best. At the time of its release, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was criticized for toning down, or “Disney-fying,” the story’s darker and more mature themes such as racial discrimination and religious intolerance, but that hasn’t stopped the film from receiving acclaim everywhere.
It has since been praised for how it conveyed these darker themes to a more family-friendly audience, and those said themes are still as relevant today as they were back then. Disney’s overall message of the film is to condemn those racially charged and intolerant themes and they choose to do so by showing it all through the eyes of Quasimodo, a deformed man cast out by society who experiences that type of hatred every single day.
People fear things that are different from them. It is not until they take the time to understand that truly realize there is nothing to fear. A film like this would be extremely socially relevant today.