Kendall Langrell | Staff Writer
[This article is part of the series “The Disney Design: How One of the World’s Most Well-Known Industries Reuses and Revamps its Formula.”]
Since its beginning in 1923, Disney has been ever- adapting, adjusting and growing with the change in social and cultural influences.
With Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” live-action remake showing in theaters beginning in March, fans are beginning to wonder, why the sudden urge to remake all the classics?
David Rothweil, a junior marketing major, and Kyle Jancola, a junior biology major, are self-proclaimed Disney experts. Since buying their Disneyland annual passes in August of 2016, they have been to the resort a combined 74 times.
“It’s about product life cycle,” Rothweil said. “[The classics] have hit their maturity phase and now Disney is reintroducing it to a new generation to get people reinterested.”
Jancola also discussed the role movie-making technology can play in the reboots.
“If you show a child today the original Cinderella, they might not connect with it since the technology and CGI is out of date,” Jancola said. He believes the new live-action renditions of the classics appeal to the current generation Disney hopes to attract.
Tom Sito, a cinematic arts professor at the University of Southern California, used to work with Disney as an animator. His previous works include animation on “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Lion King” and several other films.
Call him old-fashioned, but Sito says he will always lean towards the animated versions. However, regardless of his ties to the original films, he understands Disney’s yearning to take a modern stab at them.
Sito believes technology has not been ready for these movies until now. If Disney attempted to do a live-action Beauty and the Beast ten years ago, “Beast would have just been a man with a mask,” Sito said. “But now, they can make the illusions much more realistic; it’s a challenge for the filmmakers to make this kind of living fantasy.”
In a sense, the movies Disney is set to remake are Sito’s “babies.” They are the movies he worked tirelessly on. He would spend weeks to animate just one scene. Sito described animation as a complex art, as everything is hand drawn and then meticulously edited.
“I’m proud that people want to revisit them, but I’m sad because I love the old product and think nothing can improve the old ones,” Sito said. “To me, live-action never quite measures up to it.”
As for some of the classics set to be remade, “Mulan,” “Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Dumbo” and “Peter Pan” are all on the list alongside many others.
While Rothweil and Jancola say they are most excited for “Mulan,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Peter Pan,” Sito says he is not especially excited for any of them.
“A number of my friends are working on these films. I only wish them well, but myself and my heart will always choose the old ones,” Sito said.
As for the rest of the lineup, Tim Burton is set to direct “Dumbo,” Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino is set to voice Simba, and the original Mufasa—James Earl Jones—will be returning; so we can all relive our worst childhood memory again.