Good stories never die, and Disney is keeping alive the spirit of its past animated glories with live-action remakes of classic animated films. Believe it or not, Disney has only just started to dive into the live-action remake game, and there are several more plans in the works. Here are six of the most interesting ones in store.
Originally set to release on March 27, 2020, Mulan has been pushed back due to the world’s current pandemic. When it arrives in theaters, Mulan promises to bring back the Chinese heroine’s war story and throw martial arts into the mix as well. There will be no musical songs like the original animation had (let’s get down to business: we’ll for sure be missing the music), instead focusing on the fierce struggle against the invasion. This is certainly a letdown for fans of classic songs like “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” Yet this choice also has the potential to resolve the original movie’s struggle in balancing the innocent side of the film with the darker realities of the war.
The 2020 release of Mulan will be PG-13, reflecting the more violent themes of warfare. It will be interesting to see how Disney handles a soldier-focused movie while still paying tribute to Mulan’s origins. From the looks of the preview, it promises to be an intense and exciting adventure, though the extra twist with a shapeshifting sorceress in the enemy army is a bit unusual. In any case, Mulan is one live action remake you won’t want to miss.
2. Peter Pan
The classic tale of the boy who never grows up went through multiple drafts before it finally released in theaters in 1953. So it’s only appropriate that there appear to be multiple ideas in the works for Peter Pan-themed live action remakes. For starters, Dave Lowery, who assisted in the remake of Pete’s Dragon, will direct and co-write the script for a live action version of Peter Pan. It will be interesting to see how the new film handles some elements that have not aged well, such as the role of women in the movie and the portrayal of Neverland’s native people.
That’s just one of the Peter Pan-inspired movies underway, however. While Peter is usually the main star in Neverland, his pixie partner Tinker Bell is also very popular, and she is about to take the center stage. Reese Witherspoon will play the role of the hot-tempered yet delightful fairy in the aptly named Tink movie. Not much is known about the upcoming film for the moment, but it will give us never-before-seen looks into Tinker Bell’s character and perspective. With both movies to look forward to, there are plenty of happy thoughts to lift you up.
3. The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid kicked off the Disney Renaissance in 1989, so it makes sense that Disney plans to give the mermaid princess another shot at stardom. Rob Marshall, who also directed Mary Poppins Returns, will be the director for this remake, along with Marc Platt and John DeLuca. Halle Bailey has talent both as an actress and as a singer, making her ideal for the role of curious, passionate, and musical Ariel.
And indeed, the movie promises to maintain the original’s musical energy, with a diverse mix of old and new songs to bring the seaside love story to life. In fact, the film’s producer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created Hamilton, is providing lyrics for some of the new songs, which will be matched with tunes composed by Alan Menken. It’s going to be an amazing dive under the sea, and we can’t wait for the movie to become part of the world of Disney remakes.
4. The Sword in the Stone
Inspired by the first book in the Once and Future King trilogy by T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone was a box office success in 1963. Since then, key characters like Merlin and his rival Madam Mim have become popular Disney characters. So it’s only natural that Disney wants to draw out that sword once again. The writer for the remake is Brian Cogman, who helped write and produce another medieval-esque fantasy: Game of Thrones.
We’ll have to see how much Disney draws from the first movie and how much from the novel. Both sources certainly have their own appeal. Shapeshifting witch Madam Mim was a fun addition to the animated film, so hopefully she’ll make a reappearance. But there are parts of the book, such as Wart’s mixed bond with his foster brother Kay and his forays in disguise into animal cultures like those of the geese, ants, and hawks, that I would like to see come to life on the big screen. And who knows, maybe we’ll get sequels for the next two books, too.
5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a brilliant jewel in the Disney Renaissance era, capturing the charm and wonder of Disney-style magic while also evoking some of the darker themes of the original book by Victor Hugo. With Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz returning to compose the music again (their music in the 1996 animated film earned them an Oscar nomination), the live action remake is sure to be a swell tribute to the original masterpiece.
In addition, the script will be written by Tony-winner David Henry Hwang, so it will be interesting to see what the end result is. Above all, I hope that this remake will maintain the balance between light and dark tones that the original managed to smoothly pull off. The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s source material is often dark and gloomy, so there also needs to be a light of hope and dreams for a better world. So we wait with anticipation for the bells of Notre Dame to sing once more with thunder and passion.
6. Another Aladdin
Interestingly enough, the original animated Aladdin movie sparked not one but two sequels, plus a TV series. So of course, building off the live action remake’s success, plans are already underway for a sequel. This sequel is just tentative for the moment, and much still needs to be mapped out. Will the same cast return, or will there be new stars and characters? And will the sequel follow the same path as its animated counterparts, or will it fly in a new direction? We’ll have to wait and see.
With so many great animated movies to take inspiration from, these remakes are just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other live action remakes that Disney intends to release in the near future, too. It will be fascinating to see how each new film remake draws and diverges from its source material, creating a unique and engaging movie in its own right
Have questions about these or other upcoming remakes? Comment below!