Disney seems to have fully committed to a future of live action film, with a whole slate of remakes and new versions planned. It seems as though they are going through their entire back catalogue, converting all of their animated classics to live action versions. We have already seen a few titles from this new era, including Maleficent, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Jungle Book.
Some of the movies that are on their schedule look to be direct remakes, converting the same storyline and characters into a live action setting. Some of them are going to focus on different characters – just as Maleficent told the tale from another side in order to give us a softer version of the villain. Some are even going to be remakes of films that were already live action in the first place.
Opinion is hugely divided on this topic. Some fans believe that there’s no reason to remake the classics, which still have a big place in their hearts. Others think that it’s about time they got a new version which will be more accessible to younger generations, who expect more than the old-fashioned animation style of the originals. Still others were holding out for new animated versions, and are disappointed to be getting live action instead.
We’ve taken a look at the full list of live action remakes that Disney has scheduled, and rated them for you before their release. Here are eight movies you shouldn’t be looking forward to – and seven that might just surprise you.
15 Sword In The Stone: Will Suck
Who asked for this? Aside from the fact that Sword in the Stone was based on a legend which has been covered in live action many times anyway, it just seems completely ill-advised. They’ve brought in Bryan Cogman to do the screenplay, who you probably know best from Game of Thrones. It’s hard to imagine a less suitable choice for what will be kid’s film. Take away the nudity, the language, the violence, and what exactly is left that will make for a compelling enough story for kids? It’s got to be a lot less subtle and get to the point a lot quicker than Game of Thrones, and that raises some serious concerns. Given that this is the only thing to be announced so far about the project, we kind of hope that it flounders in development hell and never makes it off the ground. We just don’t want this movie.
14 Tink: Won’t Suck
Tinker Bell’s turn for a live action movie was first thought up as a role for Elizabeth Banks. She dropped out, however, and has been replaced… by Reese Witherspoon. With her cute, angular face, Reese could be the perfect fit for this role. She’s also someone we already know and love, and we’re ready for her to bring her quirky wit to Tinker Bell’s frame. Finding Dory screenwriter Victoria Strouse has been signed on to write the script. It’s going to be all about the story behind Tinker Bell, and the side of her that we haven’t seen before. Where so far these reveal movies have been showing the good side of the bad guys, this one is coming from the opposite direction. Does that mean we are going to see a dark side to Tinker Bell? It could also be an origin story, or a tale of unrequited love for Peter – we can’t wait to find out which. We could speculate for hours, but either way, it looks like this one is going to be pretty exciting.
13 Pinocchio: Will Suck
Here’s another live action movie that no one really wants. The whole idea of Pinocchio is that he is a wooden boy, a puppet, and that he has certain biological quirks that simply can’t be recreated in real life. So that means we’re looking at another movie where one of the characters is going to be 90% CGI. What's Eating Gilbert Grape writer Peter Hedges is signed up as the screenwriter, but we’re not exactly sure how or why you would make Pinocchio gritty. This doesn’t feel like a story that needs the modern live action treatment at all. There’s also another problem: the fact that another studio is also looking to make a new Pinocchio movie, this time with stop-motion. We don’t need competing titles on the same old story that everyone already knows to death. We literally haven’t been given any other information about this one, and we’re already ready to give it a pass.
12 Mulan: Won’t Suck
Mulan is actually looking pretty exciting. We got a taste of a good live action Mulan in Once Upon A Time (see photo above). Let's get into the upcoming live action film...
First off, Disney has announced that they are looking for an all-Asian cast and are seeking an actress for the lead role. Mulan will definitely be Chinese, which is fantastic news. The only poor mark on this film is the fact that Ang Lee, who could have been the perfect director, turned the project down. In his place is currently Niki Caro, which is pretty exciting because she will be only the second woman to direct a Disney film with a budget of over $100 million. It’s good news for Hollywood minorities all round. There was some initial concern that the script would focus on a White Knight instead of Mulan herself, but Disney has been quick to say that actually, this was only a jumping-off point. All looks positive for a faithful yet dramatic remake. This will be one to see on the big screen.
11 Dumbo: Will Suck
Dumbo is one of the Disney movies that often gets forgotten because it doesn’t have that big Princess storyline. As one of the earlier animations, it’s also not held up well over the course of time. These days it looks very dated and kids aren’t really interested in it. But that’s not the main reason why we think it will suck. That’s the fact that Tim Burton is in charge of the project. If there’s one thing that a film about a circus elephant finding freedom doesn’t need, it’s Tim Burton. The screenplay is being written by the person behind The Ring, and the actors who have so far been announced are: Eva Green as Colette, Danny DeVito as Medici, Michael Keaton as Vandemere, and Colin Farrell as Holt. It doesn’t sound like a happy film, is what we’re saying. If the dark part is so dark that it scares kids into turning the TV off, then the light-hearted ending won’t help.
10 Snow White: Won’t Suck
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the title that kicked off Disney’s princess franchise. It was their first animated feature film. It’s so huge a part of the Disney history that it’s almost unbelievable they have waited this long to go for a live action version. Perhaps testing out the formula on less risky titles like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast first gave them the confidence to go forward. Given the success of their translation of princesses to live action so far, we feel pretty excited about it. This is another idea which has already been done by Once Upon a Time, but it feels more like a groundwork showing the potential for the movie than something they would be accused of straying too close to. It’s a classic love story, and whether they choose to play it straight or go for a new spin on the fairy tale, it sounds like something people are going to want to watch.
9 The Lion King: Will Suck
First off, let’s make this point right away: there are no human characters in The Lion King. What this means is that the whole cast is going to be either real animals, or computer-generated animals, which pretty much makes a mockery of the term ‘live action’. The Jungle Book dabbled with this, but there was also human involvement to make it work a little better. James Earl Jones is going to be reprising his role as the voice of Mufasa, which kind of says it all – if it was real live action, he’d be way too old to resume the role. The production team has said that they want Beyoncé to take the role of Nala, but that hasn’t been confirmed at all (and it doesn’t mean it won’t suck – her singing will be great, but what about her voice acting?). Hugh Jackman has reportedly been cast as evil Uncle Scar, and while he's great, it doesn't rid us of our previous concern: there are no humans in the pride lands. This just seems like it will be a tired rehash with more detailed lions, not something worth seeing in itself.
8 Cruella: Won’t Suck
After seeing Maleficent, we have to be pretty excited about what Disney’s new villain series is going to bring to our screens. Cruella is based around the villain from 101 Dalmations, and since this has already been given the live action treatment, they had to go in a different direction by telling her side of the story. One of the most exciting aspects is that Emma Stone has signed on to play the title role. We haven’t seen her go full evil yet, so this is going to be really interesting – especially given that we’re used to seeing her as a sympathetic character, which may add depth to her performance. We’re ready to feel for Cruella the same way that we do for Maleficent. Writing efforts have been underway with first Aline Brosh McKenna, then Kelly Marcel taking a stab at the script. Nothing else has been announced yet, but we’re excited.
7 The Little Mermaid: Will Suck
Since Disney is remaking all of their old classics from the Disney Renaissance period, of course The Little Mermaid has to be included. We really don’t know much about this one so far – it has barely been announced. There are signs that Alan Merkin, the original songwriter, will be back to write some new original tunes. He will be joined by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who will be writing and also producing. We don’t know if we’re keen on the idea of this one. There’s bound to be some dodgy CGI involved to bring Ariel to life, which makes it kind of likely that the new trend for hiring models instead of actresses might be followed here. It’s still going to be a musical, so even in live action, the apple won’t fall far from the tree. It almost just doesn’t feel necessary to cover this one. Plus, new songs? No thanks.
6 Aladdin: Won’t Suck
An Aladdin live action has been something that seemed lacking for a long while. The studio has said that they will be looking for unknown Middle-Eastern actors to fill the main roles, which is another exciting plus. Dan Lin, the producer, has already confirmed that they will be steering clear of white actors given the ethnic origins of the story. Guy Ritchie will be directing, with John August (of Big Fish) taking writing duties. It will be a musical, too, so that’s another plus – with the obvious connections, could we be getting a Bollywood-style flick from Hollywood?
Naomi Scott (you'll remember her as the Pink Ranger in the most recent Power Rangers film) has been cast as Princess Jasmine. Two vastly different roles; this should be interesting to see, but we're hopeful. And we'll have Canadian actor Mena Massoud as Aladdin. But the one downside will be that of course Robin Williams won’t be around to take up his Genie role. Maybe Will Smith will be able to take the character in a different direction and compensate (he's been cast as the Genie); though he does have some big shoes to fill.
5 Peter Pan: Will Suck
A new live action Peter Pan movie? Call us cynical, but we’re not excited. First off, there’s the fact that David Lowery has been signed up to write and direct – but he’s currently directing The Old Man and the Gun. The word is that he is developing the script for Peter at the same time. That sounds like a recipe for mediocrity, on both films. Is it wise to give the same person full control over script and direction when they are obviously distracted? We’re not convinced about this one at all. It’s been called a new take on the story, but the “dark Peter” approach has already been done (and done well) by Once Upon a Time. The grown-up Peter has been done with Hook. The story has been told and retold so many times, it seems like all the interesting options have been covered. What avenues are left to them?
4 James And The Giant Peach: Won’t Suck
James and the Giant Peach is a bit of a curious one because it’s one of the few Disney films that got the stop-motion treatment. Although it is early days, reports suggest that it will be a live action remake with Sam Mendes at the helm. This sounds pretty interesting – he will be able to bring a maturity and grit to the film that other filmmakers would struggle with. Nick Hornby is rumoured to be taking over the script. We don’t know much about this yet but it is definitely going to be interesting to see James on the screen in the flesh. It’s also going to be a challenge to bring the film out of the stop-motion history and breathe new life into it. We’re looking forward to seeing what they make of it. If nothing else, it will give us a chance to see James as a real boy, not just as a model.
3 Oliver Twist: Will Suck
Oliver! has already been remade once as a serious live action movie without the songs, and it sucked. It’s also been animated as Oliver and Company, which also kind of sucked. So why are they trying again? Clearly, someone thought that if they went into a totally new idea it would work. Apparently, that’s why they hired Ice Cube to helm the movie. They are going to put a new spin on it, so get this: it will be a hip-hop style movie with Cube himself taking the role of Fagin. Everything about that sentence makes us feel just a bit queasy. It sounds like the kind of idea a high school drama teacher would come up with – Oliver, but in modern times! And he’s black! And he raps instead of sings! Someone wake us up when Disney remember that they actually have serious professionals working for them, not amateurs.
2 Christopher Robin: Won’t Suck
We didn’t expect to say that a Winnie The Pooh live action would be something to look forward to. But they’re taking a different approach with it which could turn out pretty cool. Marc Forster is signed on to direct, and he’s the man behind films like Quantum of Solace – and Finding Neverland, which should mean he’s comfortable with the kind of source material this requires. Instead of being about Pooh and his friends, the film will actually focus on Christopher Robin as a grown adult. He no longer has the same joyful imagination that he did as a boy – until Pooh shows up on his doorstep. It basically sounds like a new version of Hook, and we all know how awesome that was. Tom McCarthy of Up fame has been hired to rewrite the script, so fingers crossed this live action movie is going to be a good one.
1 Chernabog: Will Suck
Our first question for this movie: who cares? Chernabog is a demon character who appears in the final segment of Fantasia, the classic Disney collection of shorter animations joined by orchestral music. This particular writer owned a copy on video and was always too scared to watch when Chernabog came on as a child. Putting latent childhood trauma aside, a 10-minute short doesn’t seem much of a basis for a full-length feature. You wouldn’t pick this guy out of a lineup, much less expect him to be getting his own movie. He is effectively a blank slate – what’s his origin story? What are his motives? We basically have no idea at this point. Add to that the fact that the name isn’t very recognizable, and we could be in for a bit of a flop. Who’s going to want to get tickets for this at the cinema if they aren’t a die-hard Disney fan?