My open letter to a Disney executive on the remakes of popular movies they should actually recreate.
To Whom it May Concern,
It seems like you have found a new way to print money; take advantage of our feelings of nostalgia and remake or retell some of our favourite classics.
With the recent release of a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, and several other remakes/retreads of some of our most treasured films (The Lion King, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, and a sequel to Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Returns, to name a few), you’re leaving me wondering if this is a smart move for you.
If these new versions aren’t as good, or even objectively terrible, won’t that taint the beloved status of the original? Why fix what’s not broken?
Instead, why don’t you fix a few things that ARE broken!
Here’s a list of films with great concepts but could definitely use an upgrade.
Ok it’s literally on your list of movies to remake. However, I wanted to let you know of all the films you’re planning on remaking, this one definitely needs an upgrade.
The concept of this film is great; girl wants to impress family, girl takes her father’s place in war, girl becomes a great soldier and saves China. Awesome, great stuff.
While I enjoy the animated version, it suffers from a lot of tonal issues… namely turning a war drama into a comedy, musical.
This film was a product of the phase where you tried telling more adult stories, but thought you were keeping them kid-friendly with songs and animal sidekicks (i.e. Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
I would love to see a live action version without some of the more ridiculous elements (the dragon and the cricket), the awkward elements (random musical numbers, forced romance subplot) and focuses more on the dramatic elements…like, you know, the war with the Huns.
- The Haunted Mansion
I recently found myself at Walt Disney World, and made sure to revisit ‘The Haunted Mansion.’ What I found was a macabre beauty that could potentially translate well onto film.
With the 2003 film, I could tell you guys were afraid to make it too dark (something you were, ironically, not afraid of at all in your infinitely more successful Pirates of the Caribbean film series).
Casting Eddie Murphy and giving the film a “comedic” tone accomplished this, but it also anesthetised it from living up to its full potential.
Remake with Guillermo del Toro (as it’s been rumoured for ages) and let it be what it is; a gothic, romantic horror.
- The Black Cauldron
I remember reading these books as a kid and loving them. I wanted Gurgi as my pet! It was exhilarating, funny, and imaginative.
The animated Disney film from 1985 was none of those things. It was dark, slow, and strange.
However, the source material (The Chronicles of Prydain) is still rife with live-action remake potential. Cast Tom Holland as Taran and Angourie Rice as Princess Ellonwy and call it a day.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire
When I was a kid I rewatched the trailer on my VHS a million times. I thought it looked incredible and knew it was going to be my new favourite Disney movie. When I actually watched it, I was left disappointed.
I expected something exotically flavoured, and in the end was left with vanilla.
It’s still a great concept, however. Joss Whedon’s mark is clear in the shaping of this story, as all of the characters are larger than life, memorable, and likeable. The time we spend with them searching for Atlantis is the best part of the film.
There’s something about the arrival to Atlantis when the story loses all its mystery, and it becomes bland and a little ridiculous.
Rewrite the end of this story, keep the mystery of Atlantis throughout, and you’ve got a fun action-adventure in the spirit of Indiana Jones on your hands!
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
I was one of the five children in the world that loved this movie growing up. I would blast the soundtrack on my stereo and sing-along to songs like ‘God Help the Outcasts’ and ‘Hellfire.’
I don’t know what it was about this movie, but it really resonated with me. Perhaps I felt like an outcast. Or perhaps it simply had more depth of meaning than many of the other animated features.
While you guys have produced a lot of dark animated films in the past (Black Cauldron and Atlantis being two such films), this is your most adult; dealing with subject matter from lust to infanticide to cultural/religious oppression to physical deformity.
It’s a heavy movie… and probably not one for young kids.
However, the story is powerful and timely and the music is some of your best.
You created a stage version of this film and it sounds awesome. You cut the goat and fun gargoyle characters and made several other changes that kept it closer to Victor Hugo’s original novel:
- Quasimodo was deaf
- Frollo is the archdeacon of Notre Dame
- Esmeralda dies
- Quasimodo murders Frollo
All of these changes help deal with the animated film’s tonal issues, and allow the story to leave more of a memorable, emotional impact on the audience.
Check out the soundtrack to this version if you’re interested.
Perhaps this adaptation is too adult for you guys. However, someone should make this, because if Les Miserables can be a popular movie, so can this.