Beauty and the Beast is one of the greatest animated films ever created. The world collectively fell in love with the classic tale of a beautiful woman who falls for a prince turned beast, back in 1991. It was eventually nominated for six Academy Awards (including Best Picture), winning two of them. Now, 26 years later, Disney has invested $300 million into bringing this classic animated feature to life. It stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. I am personally very excited for this film and it appears that I’m not alone; its trailer set the record on YouTube for the most views in a 24 hour time period. Even so, $300 million still seems like a huge risk for any studio to take. If this were the first remake/reimagining of a Disney classic animated feature, I am positive that Disney would not have taken this risk. However, they know just how successful their past live-action remakes have been: not only are they box office draws, but they are also hits with the critics. So, love these remakes or hate ‘em, live action is here to stay.
Although it was not the first, the popular new trend among live-action Disney remakes began in 2010 with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. This film originally confuddled many: what was the director of Batman and Beetlejuice to do with an already dark Disney property? Surprisingly, Alice in Wonderland only received mixed reviews from critics; this however, did not stop the live-action film from grossing over a billion dollars, making it the fifth highest grossing movie at that time. It sparked what we now know as the Disney live-action remake movement which does not seem to have any intention of slowing down anytime soon.
Since 2010, we’ve seen a high number of these films: Maleficent–a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with Angelina Jolie as the villain–Cinderella in 2015, Pete’s Dragon in 2016, and Jon Favreu’s The Jungle Book, also in 2016. Maleficent grossed over $750 million, Cinderella grossed over $540 million with generally very positive reviews, and Pete’s Dragon grossed $143 million. The Jungle Book not only enjoyed amazing financial success (grossing $966 million), but also received very positive reviews. This brings us to where we are now: the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.
These reimaginings have been a hit with most fans and critics alike. They have also proven that it is possible for timeless animated classics to be remade into live-action hits that are just as good, or in some cases, possibly even BETTER than the original. Disney is very aware of this fact and currently has other live-action remakes in production; including: Mulan, One Hundred and One Dalmatians (this time, focusing on Cruella), Dumbo, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, The Sword in the Stone, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Aladdin, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
I am thrilled to see the continuation of these remakes. I have loved watching the animations that I grew up with come to life in a way that only modern technology can accomplish. I am excited to see my childhood memories reimagined in this way and will definitely be seeing Beauty and the Beast when it comes out on March 17.