Why Do Disney Remakes Keep Happening?
July 31, 2019
(The Channel Awesome logo and show opening play, before we go to NC in his room. NC is shown feeling down, with his hand on his cheek)
NC: (monotone) Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. Sorry if I look a little disheveled right now, but did you hear how this did recently? (The poster of the 2019 remake of The Lion King, which has now become one of the year's biggest hits, grossing over $1 billion, is shown) Did you hear what the next few films from Disney are gonna be? (An image of future remakes made by Disney is shown. NC shouts the next part, though his expression doesn't change) AREN'T YOU EXCITED?!?
(Footage of these remakes are shown, including The Lion King, Aladdin and the upcoming Mulan)
NC (vo): Most everyone I know is sick of the Disney live-action remakes. Even those who like them are getting tired of them. We've gone from one maybe every four or five years to one every year to several every year, and there's even more on the way! It wouldn't be too bad, if there was more variation in their work...
NC (vo): ...but the more they make, the less they try something different...
(Another snippet of the Lion King remake is shown, illustrating just how closely it follows to the original animated movie)
NC (vo): ...even giving us what feels like a shot-for-shot, line-for-line redo of a beloved classic.
(Now footage of the Tim Burton version of Alice In Wonderland is shown)
NC (vo): "Disney used to be cool," I hear people say. "Why are we being given the same thing over and over?"
NC: Well, the short answer is... (A cash register ding is heard and several dollar bills fall down around NC briefly) But the long answer may be a bit more complicated.
(Footage of Maleficent is shown briefly)
NC (vo): And in order to understand it, we first have to understand the company that puts them out.
NC: Disney is a cultural phenomenon, I think it's safe to say, unlike anything the world has ever seen.
(A shot is displayed of the concept art for the Wonderful World of Animation fireworks show at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World)
NC (vo): Don't get me wrong; the world has seen fairy tales and amusement parks and technological advances...
(Cut to a shot of the Partners statue in front of WDW's Cinderella Castle)
NC (vo): ...but to my memory, there is no entertainment company centered around families that is as massive or recognizable on the planet.
NC: I can take three identical circles, put them together, (An image of the three circles forming the familiar logo of Mickey Mouse's appears in the corner) and most people would know that means Mickey Mouse. Just from (holds three fingers) three circles. Think about that!
(A closeup of the logo is shown, with the camera zooming in on it)
NC (vo): It doesn't even look like a mouse, but most people recognize it as that because of this company.
(A shot of almost every Disney character all gathered together is shown)
NC (vo): And the fact that a lot of this long-lasting empire is based on stories that both children and adults can relate to is beyond impressive.
(Now cut to a collage of various movie directors throughout the years)
NC (vo): Think of other studios, directors, producers. They've made many stories that'll stay with people, too, but most would agree...
(The iconic Disney Castle logo for Walt Disney Pictures is displayed)
NC (vo): ...Disney not only has the highest number of stories that stay with us, but they're the most frequent in putting them out.
NC: When you think about it, it's brilliant. It takes something that people already or relate to, like, say...
(An image of the various Disney princesses are shown standing together)
NC (vo): ...fairy tales, put your own unique touches on it, and suddenly, everyone thinks your version.
NC: It's hard for a child to hear the name "Snow White" and not imagine that she looks like this...
(A clip of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is shown, showing Snow White as she kisses the Dwarfs goodbye at the end of the film before riding off with her prince)
NC (vo): If comic books are modern-day Greek mythology, as some people have declared...
(Now cut to a clip of Frozen, showing Queen Elsa as she runs away from Arendelle)
NC (vo): ...then Disney is modern-day fairy tales.
(Cut back to footage of Disneyland parks)
NC (vo): And from that, they spawn new ideas new technologies. new imaginative ways to entertain everyone. And that's the key word: everyone. (Mark Twain's photo is shown briefly) Mark Twain used to describe his work as water. Many people drink wine, he says, but everyone drinks water. Disney clearly has that same mindset. It not only works from an entertainment perspective, but from a business perspective as well.
NC: But that's the thing about show business: it is show and business.
(The clips from Snow White are played again)
NC (vo): People now see Snow White as a masterpiece, but back then, it was a huge gamble, threatening to destroy Disney Studios if it didn't turn in big bucks. Thankfully, it did, though, as well as made history.
NC (vo): But after that, their following films, Fantasia, Dumbo, Pinocchio and Bambi, did not turn in the profit they were hoping for. In fact, they rarely turned in a profit.
NC: We know them as classics today, but back then, they weren't really seen as big moneymakers, at least nowhere near what Snow White was. So they were hurting business.
NC (vo): On top of that, war. Most businesses were hurting because of it, and Disney was no exception. The films they were putting out at this time were a collection of shorts, because they couldn't afford to put out one completed story. They just kind of combined the stories that they started before the war broke out and said, "Here you go. This is a movie now."
NC: When the war ended, though, they finally had breathing room to do complete movies. What did they do?
(The clips from the animated Cinderella are shown)
NC (vo): I think it's fitting to say they made another Snow White. Now, don't get me wrong, I like Cinderella a lot; in fact, it was one of Walt's favorites; but if you were to say which of their past completed motion pictures was it like, it's clearly Snow White.
NC: And from here, Disney would take risks in other departments, but not really in their animated features.
(The posters of all classical Disney films from Cinderella to Oliver and Company are shown)
NC (vo): They've just gone through too many shaky times and they needed to stay afloat. Not to say they didn't put out top-notch quality work, I mean, I love a lot of these movies...
(Back to footage of the first five Disney movies, then of Cinderella again)
NC (vo): ...but where their first five films stylistically were very little alike, now, every animated film following would have to be like one of those five. Again, not an awful thing, as many of these films were great, but what I'm getting at is pushing the envelope in terms of originality had slowed down, because that's what made sense from the business side: give the people what they know they like.
NC: Sound familiar?
NC (vo): It's no secret Disney has gone through slumps over the years, and will happily put out lesser material if it's deemed popular.
(The footage of live-action remakes is resumed)
NC (vo): It seems like the recent Disney remakes, as well as the recent Disney sequels, are either their way out of some sort of financial mug, or a way to make even more profit to venture and to other... pray to God...creative avenues.