With Dumbo, Aladdin, Christopher Robin live-action films, Disney hopes to draw generations together

Gautam Chintamani

Jul 17, 2018 14:19:19 IST

Many childhood favourites — be it the elephant with big, floppy ears Dumbo; the honey-loving, silly old bear Winnie the Pooh; Simba the young lion prince who runs into exile believing that he killed his father; and the blue Genie who makes Aladdin and Princess Jasmine experience a whole new world — are poised to make a return but only this time they would be ‘real.’ Following the successful adaptations of Jungle Book (2016) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), Disney is going full-throttle on live-action remakes of its animated classics with Tim Burton’s Dumbo, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin and Mark Forster’s Christopher Robin, where Winnie the Pooh and the pack unite to help their pal, Christopher Robin.

 With Dumbo, Aladdin, Christopher Robin live-action films, Disney hopes to draw generations together

Stills from Christopher Robin and Dumbo. Images via Twitter

Looking at the line-up, one would wonder the reason behind this development and at the same time, the question — why would you want to tinker around with such classics — would undoubtedly rise. As with most things Hollywood, this decision could largely have to do with economics. Simply put, the success of both Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast that brought in over a $ 1 billion worldwide each, has unleashed the flurry of remakes. Following this, Disney green-lit four feature adaptations of their classics and the first on the anvil is Burton’s reimagined Dumbo, featuring Collin Farrell as a former circus star who returns home after the Great War to discover a baby elephant with over-sized ears that makes it stand apart from the parade. The film’s cast includes many A-list names including Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Danny DeVito and Alan Arkin.

If star power is the keyword for these reinterpretations, then what could outdo Will Smith as the Genie in Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin? Smith has mentioned that his Genie would steer clear of even thinking of replacing Robin Williams’ famous portrayal. But the manner in which the late actor included popular culture references to make the wish-granter more contemporary, Smith too would include the attitude of his own previous characters such as Hitch and Fresh Prince to keep the character up with the times. On the other hand, Ewan McGregor, who will portray a grown-up Christopher Robin in the eponymous film, seems to be developing a knack to play adult versions of many famous ‘reel’ children. This is the second such instance after Sleep Doctor, which has McGregor playing an adult Danny Torrence, where the actor would portray the adult version of a beloved child character. Remember, James Earl Jones’ booming baritone infusing life into Mufasa, the ‘lion king’; now, he’s reprising the role in the live-action version of Jon Favreau’s Lion King and the cast includes Donald Glover as Simba. Interestingly enough, Favreau, who directed the CGI-live action Jungle Book, could tell the story from the lioness Nala’s point of view and with Beyoncé as Nala.

Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast both brought in over a $1 billion worldwide each. Image via Twitter

Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast both brought in over a $1 billion worldwide each. Image via Twitter

More than the immense potential to set the cash registers ringing by tapping into the legacy behind the brands, these remakes also ensure an increase in Disney’s core audience. Traditionally, it was the younger lot that Disney would aim to please and in the bargain, make sure that parents went to the cinema but now it seems to be a bit of the reverse technique being applied. Disney’s one-time audience base has aged and now probably have children of their own, who might not be able to connect directly to films that are ‘classics.’ In that aspect, live-action remakes ensure that the elders would get the following generation to experience a bit of their childhood. When seen from that point of view, it’s a win-win as you could have a 2019 Aladdin with some of the original classic tunes from the 1992 version but with Naomi Scott and Will Smith crooning ‘em, audiences, no doubt, would be shown a whole new world.

Updated Date: Jul 17, 2018 14:19:40 IST