The past two weeks saw both the debut of the trailer for the live-action version of The Jungle Book and the news that Disney was making a new Mary Poppins, but that doesn’t mean that this stretch of time has been unusually heavy with news of Disney remakes. In fact, even casual followers of movie news have probably noticed that many of Disney’s most famous films of the past are currently being remade.
Some Disney purists may be asking why, considering so many of these films were great to begin with – the answer is simple: The Cinderella remake has made $542 million to date, the Tim Burton-directed Alice in Wonderland made $1 billion and Maleficent, the retelling of Sleeping Beauty, has made $758 million so far. Clearly, these are films people are willing to shell out to watch.
Another question Disney fans may be asking: “Exactly how many of the Disney classics are being remade?”
The answer: LOTS. Here’s a list of all the Disney movies that are in talks to be remade, in pre-production or currently being filmed.
The Jungle Book
Last week, the world learned the answer to the question that someone, somewhere probably asked at some point: “What would The Jungle Book be like if Kaa the evil snake sounded like Scarlett Johansson?” And while this writer was skeptical, he had to admit that just based on the trailer, the Jon Favreau-directed adventure looks good, Skaa-rlett notwithstanding. It’s schedule to open in theaters on April 15, 2016.
Announced in 2013, the remake of the 1977 Disney classic has already begun filming in New Zealand. The original featured live actors interacting with an animated dragon, but the new version will star a CGI dragon. It also stars Bryce Dallas Howard, but in case you were looking forward to her rendition of "Candle on the Water," know that this new version of the film is not a musical. It hits theaters on Aug. 12, 2016.
Probably the most anticipated of the wave of Disney reboots, this live-action version of the 1991 film features Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the title characters, respectively, and an all-star cast of celebs voicing the enchanted furniture. Fans are no doubt stoked to see the original’s rollicking musical numbers realized in a new way, and Disney execs are probably eager to see how they fare with a new version of the only non-Pixar animated Disney feature ever to be nominated for Best Picture. It arrives in theaters on March 17, 2017.
Back in 2013, there was news that a new take on the 101 Dalmatians villain was in the works, written by Aline Brosh McKenna, who wrote a version of the script for the live-action Cinderella. There hasn’t been much news since, but were it to happen, it would be the first time Disney produced a live-action remake of an animated classic that had already been turned into a live action movie – in 1991 with Glenn Close in the lead role.
In March, it was announced that Sofia Coppola was attached to direct a live-action adaptation of 1989’s The Little Mermaid that stayed closer to the original Hans Christian Anderson tale. (Spoiler alert: It does not end well for the mermaid in that version.) And while the pairing of director and subject matter couldn’t be better – Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, Somewhere and Marie Antoinette each told stories about young women who long for more – Coppola left the project in June, citing creative differences. There’s been no news since, but the project is presumably still afloat.
Rumors about a live-action remake of 1941’s Dumbo solidified in March when the Wall Street Journal reported that Tim Burton, who’d previously found success remaking Alice in Wonderland for Disney, would also direct a new feature about the flying elephant. We cannot wait to see the freaky "Pink Elephants on Parade" sequence reimagined by Burton.
Given movie studios’ growing interest in audiences in China, this one seems like a slam-dunk. In March, it was announced that the 1998 film about a young woman who masquerades as a male soldier would also be remade. The lead role has not yet been cast, but there’s already a petition that’s received nearly 80,000 signatures asking Disney not to cast a Caucasian actor in the lead role, just in case you thought people don’t have big feelings about these Disney classics.
Causing most entertainment writers to make jokes about becoming a real boy, a live-action remake of 1940’s Pinocchio became news in April when it was revealed that Peter Hedges was writing a script for it. Hedges also wrote the script for About a Boy, and should this movie come to pass, expect a lot of jokes along the lines of About a Wooden Boy.
Disney has already made five Pooh feature films and nine direct-to-video films, but in April, it was announced that a live-action Disney film would have Christopher Robin all grown up and returning to the Hundred-Acre Wood. The film will be directed by Alex Ross Perry, whose most recent film was the very-un-Winnie the Pooh-like Queen of Earth.
Probably not a reboot, strictly speaking, this Tinkerbell-centric follow-up to 1953’s Peter Pan is just one of the many live-action reinterpretations of the J.M. Barrie story. However, Reese Witherspoon will be playing a live-action version of the Disney interpretation of Peter Pan’s right-hand gal. It might be more accurate to say that Tink is a remake of Disney’s popular series of Tinkerbell direct-to-DVD movies.
Night on Bald Mountain
For those who don’t know the segments to the original 1940 Fantasia backwards and forwards, “Night on Bald Mountain” is a finale – the one with a demon named Chernabog raising all manner of ghosts and ghouls from their graves. It’s one of the least kid-friendly cartoons Disney has ever made, and in June it was announced that it would be expanded into a full-length, live-action feature, with a screenplay by the writers of the upcoming Vin Diesel action-horror flick The Last Witch Hunter.
The Sword in the Stone
In July, it was reported that Disney was planning a live-action remake of the 1963 animated take on the story of King Arthur. The script is being written by Game of Thrones writer-producer Bryan Cogman, which should make fans of the original wonder just how dark Disney might be willing to take the film.
Also in July, news broke that Disney was making Genies, a live-action prequel to the 1992 film Aladdin that would tell the story of the Genie’s life before the events of the original. And if you’re wondering how the big blue guy could exist without the man who voiced him – Robin Williams, who died in 2014 – know that Homer Simpson himself, Dan Castellaneta, has voiced him several times already. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Disney’s long-range plans for the film include a live-action remake of Aladdin as well.
Sure, Disney already remade 1950’s Cinderella this year with Game of Thrones star Richard Madden playing the prince with the shoe fetish, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to tell his story further. In July, it was announced that Disney bought a script for a “revisionist” take on Prince Charming, though it remains to be scene if he’s Cinderella’s suitor or some other character.
And, of course, just last week we learned that Disney is making a new Mary Poppins that will stick closer to the original books by P.L. Travers and has the original super-nanny visiting the Banks family 20 years after her tenure as governess. It’s not yet clear what, exactly, this movie is: Variety says it’s not a remake and not a sequel, but a new, standalone Mary Poppins movie. So it’s a reboot?
But let’s not forget
Alice Through the Looking Glass is Disney’s upcoming sequel to the 2010 remake, and therefore one of the few projects on this list that’s not a reboot – it’s a direct continuation of the first movie’s story, with Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and more reprising their roles from the first film. Also, a script is being written for a sequel to Maleficent, though it remains to be seen if Angelina Jolie would reprise the title role.
You’ll notice that a few major Disney movies aren’t in the process of being remade – among them, Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, The Black Cauldron, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Lilo & Stitch and and the grandmother of all Disney features, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (It should be pointed out that 2012 saw two different non-Disney live-action remakes of the fairy tale, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Hunstman, however.) Still, would you be surprised by news that any one of these films were next in line for a remake?
So long as a new generation of Disney fans isn’t subjected to a high-def, CGI rendering of the banshee from Darby O’Gill and the Little People, we’re fine with new, creative takes on Disney standards.