The morality of Disney’s live-action remakes (and my other thoughts on remakes in general)


I’ll just be frank: Movie and TV reboots are getting pretty annoying. I know this is never going to happen, but sometimes I think that at some point people are going to be too afraid to create anything that isn’t in an already existing universe, and that every new TV show is going to be related to some pre-existing material.

By far the worst offender of this is Disney and their live-action remakes of classic animated movies. So far they’ve done this sixteen times (and show no sign of stopping), starting with Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book in 1994. To be fair, a few of these are sequels/spinoffs, which doesn't bother me, since they're not just copies of something that already exists. A bad sequel is fine, I just don't like it when they just copy the entire plot of a previous movie and don't really put any effort into it.

Which brings me to my next point: Even if, say, the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast in 2017 had been as good as or somehow even better than the original animated one, it still would have been pretty pointless in my opinion. We've already seen this story told - what's the point of telling it again if you aren't going to add anything new or interesting that wasn't in the original. Where is Beauty and the Beast and the Zombies? If you're an avid Disney fan and it brings back nostalgia for you, then I guess I can understand that and justify its existence, but this is only in the hypothetical world in which it was actually good.

Morally, I'm not sure how I feel about exploiting people's nostalgia to get money in the most effortless way possible. It does seem somewhat slimy, but at the same time, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad. I would go as far to say that they aren't really being taken advantage of. I know that by all definitions, they technically are, but if the movie actually made them happy and they thought that it was worth the money for a ticket (or a Disney+ subscription), then both sides win. The viewer got back good memories from their childhood, and Disney got more money, which we all know they definitely need more of. No one's getting hurt.

Logically, I don't think that movie remakes in general make very much sense. I'm not talking about sequels or spin offs here (those can be annoying and milk all there is out of a franchise too, don't get me wrong), but only about literal copies of previous movies that don't change anything from the original. Wouldn't it make more sense to remake a movie that had great potential but poor execution due to developmental problems or something?

A great example would be the movie Passengers: from the trailer, I thought that the premise was really interesting: A guy is aboard a spaceship full of people being cryo-freezed or somehow preserved in a deep subconscious state where they don't age, until they reach their destination in a really long time, when they'll all unthaw and it'll be like no time passed at all. The catch is that something goes wrong and the guy gets unthawed when they're still lifetimes away from the destination.

I personally thought this was pretty cool, but then the movie came out and it was a complete bomb. It was clunky, and the main character's motivations to sleep with someone completely trumped any thought about how ethically screwed up his course of action was. I feel like I should mention that I haven't actually seen the movie, but I don't really think that prevents me from making my point: It would make so much sense if they remade that movie, or a similar one with the same premise and better execution, instead of doing something like picking up Arrested Development for a sixth and this-time-actually-final-we-promise-this-is-it season.

I don't think that we'll have to worry about every movie or show being based off of something that already exists - because no matter what, there are going to be people who create media not for money, but because they want to tell a story, whether that be an emotional personal story, an exciting high-concept adventure, or a mixture of the two. After all, that’s what movies are, or at least what they started as, and for every greedy company that retells a story that we all know for an easy cash grab, there are ten times as many human beings telling stories.

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