I have resisted this post for a while now. I try and keep my film blog lighthearted and entertaining, but I think it’s finally time for my first rant (after my mini moans about ‘Beauty and The Beast’, this one has been a long time coming!)
Disney are currently in a habit of rebooting all their classic films, and I’m absolutely sick of it and not remotely excited. Having put up with this for a while, the release of the trailer for Mary Poppins Returns has finally pushed me over the edge from passive annoyance to genuine heartbreak.
I’d like to start by saying that I love Disney films. They are the leaders in childish entertainment, and have been for nearly 100 years. In that time, they have created more childhood classics than most of the competition combined. However, in this current filmmaking climate, they have decided to lead the way in rehashing old ideas, rather than championing the unique filmmaking that got them to the top of their game.
When it was first announced that Disney were remaking Beauty and The Beast, I was skeptical. Like most my age, I grew up with that film, and I adored it. The year before, I had been disappointed with 2016 The Jungle Book remake, which sported some nice CGI but was ultimately charmless and boring. Of course, Disney have been remaking films for years, with Alice In Wonderland (2010), Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015) all serving to prove that point. But 2017’s Beauty and The Beast was a turning point in Disney’s remaking habit, and a worrying one at that. The majority of Disney remakes before that had offered something new. They provided a different plot to the original, changed up the characters and provided some better insight into the characters. However, Beauty and The Beast did none of that. It wasn’t a re-imagining like the others had been, it was a blatant copy of the vastly superior animated classic, lacking charm, talent or excitement. And yet, it was the second highest grossing film of the year, making more than $1.2 billion in the box. This meant Disney realised they could make money from their lack of creativity, and BOY OH BOY are they planning on cashing in on it.
In the next four or so years, we have been promised live action remakes of Dumbo, Mulan, The Lion King, 101 Dalmatians and Aladdin, with remakes of The Sword In The Stone, The Little Mermaid, Pinocchio and Peter Pan rumoured to be in the works. The Lion King remake, coming next year, has been so lazy in its casting that they’ve actually cast the same guy (James Earl Jones) as Mufasa. When I’ve mentioned this, many people have explained that nobody could do him justice other than James Earl Jones. I would argue that literally proves how pointless a remake is. They can’t find anyone to improve it, so why are they trying to?
I understand that it’s all about making money, but I do find it so disappointing that Disney feel the need to forget all about the beautiful creativity and imagination that got them their status. Being the owners of Star Wars and Marvel, as well as all of their animated back catalogue, it seems they are more willing to fall back on their property rather than championing new ideas.
In fairness, it isn’t just Disney that are deciding to remake or reboot classic films for a quick buck. In the last few years, we’ve had reboots for Alien, Independence Day, Zoolander, King Kong, The Magnificent Seven, Ghostbusters and It, to name just a few. These films dominated the box office, and coupled with all the other huge franchises, made it impossible for smaller, original films to make any money at all.
When Ben Hur was (horrifically) remade in 2016, I realised that no property was sacred, and it was around that time that I also learnt a Mary Poppins reboot was in the works. This one really hit me personally, because Mary Poppins has always been a favourite of mine. I think it is practically perfect in every way (pun very much intended) and while I know the character is based on P. L. Travers’ book series, it seems clear from the first trailer that the film will aim to replicate the style and whimsy of the 1964 classic.
While it is only speculation, I’m fairly confident in saying that it will not even come close, and while it may be an enjoyable enough film, it also continues to signal the slow and painful death of creativity in Hollywood.