Adaptation Craze


Melissa Hillier

The Beauty and the Beast was one of Disney’s most successful live-action remakes. Courtesy of Melissa Hillier.

Beauty and The Beast, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Mulan, Aladdin, and now The Little Mermaid. These movies are known by Disney fans across the world not only as some of the most successful animated movies but also as widely popular live action remakes. What is the craze about live action remakes? Why are Disney’s best animated movies all being remade?

The short answer is, it’s an easy way for the company to produce money. By recreating stories they know audiences love, they ensure a safe income. When the Lion King was remade and introduced to cinemas in 2019, it made over 1.5 billion dollars worldwide. Beauty and The Beast, remade in 2017, grossed an additional 1.2 billion. The remakes are widely popular, especially because animated movies have lost a lot of their value over the past decades. Live-action casting trends even emerged on social media. People on TikTok would make videos of which actors and actresses they best thought would fit the roles of beloved characters. Movies such as Hercules, Ratatouille, and Princess and The Frog were three of the most popularly discussed topics on the platform for a long time. And because Disney is such a well-respected and wealthy company, they have the power to cast big names such as Emma Watson, Will Smith, and Johnny Depp. 

Unfortunately, these remakes are further pulling away from comforting animation and reproducing stories everyone has seen before. Nearly every movie produced by Disney in the past few years has either been a remake or a spin-off of something they have done before. While it is important to mention that Encanto and Turning Red were widely successful animation movies produced by the company in 2022, the other popular Disney movies were all spin-offs and remakes such as the Toy Story spin-off Lightyear, a remake of Pinocchio, and another remake of The Lion King. Each one of these movies is successful and enjoyable in its own manner but at the same time it feels likeDisney is simply running out of ideas. Is their plan to remake each and every one of their 61 animated pictures? At some point it’s an expectation for the company rather than a creative idea. 

The film industry as a whole is getting increasingly repetitive. It seems as though the most successful modern movies are all remakes and sequels. Even when you exclude all of the remade Disney movies, many other companies are simply taking popular stories and making them into movies. It’s the same with book adaptations too, as whenever a book is widely successful it’s often turned into a motion picture. While this is a fun way to see a story in a different way,many of these adaptations feel forced. 

In 2023, Disney alone is releasing a live-action Peter Pan and Wendy, a remake of White Men Can’t Jump, and the highly anticipated The Little Mermaid live-action starring Halle Bailey. Future productions include remakes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Robin Hood, and even the Aristocrats. More celebrities such as Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina, and Gal Gadot are set to join productions and make their way into the Disney universe.