Time Wounds All Heels: An Agony of Disney's Modern Moviemaking.
I'm pleased to share an editorial about Disney's focus on live action movies written by the one and only Alex!
In 2010, Tim Burton got it in his head to take his mental stylings to an old English tale, that of Alice in Wonderland. Disney had tried and failed first time round, as had many others, but that never stopped anyone before. The result was a live action/CGI hybrid that was insane in staging and should have died on the vine. The critics ravaged it, but it became, at time of release, the 5th highest grossing film of the year, and Burton's most profitable.
Disney noticed, and followed up on their actions. Cinderella was press-ganged into a remake, which was adequate, but unneeded.
Yet again, the film hit the box office with thunderous success, and alongside it came the official mandate: Make More Of These!
Jungle Book was also successful, mainly due to Jon Farveau, known for Elf and the Iron Man films, reinforcing the idea that Disney had hit the jackpot.
Looking ahead, we can see several films, ranging from obscure to successful in initial release, lined up for conversion. Judge Doom has returned, throwing darts into artists' eyes, and pocketing the money for himself. Disney feels that animation is something that can be reheated in a microwave of live-action, then slapped on the market to sell like hotcakes. We've been here before. This thinking led to the making of several films with the same basic formula and recycled animation.
Both in the 70's, and during Eisner's reign, recycled ideas were the norm. In both instances, the studio suffered .We've already had to bear this lesson twice before, and no one has learned anything, save how to disguise their money-grubbing ways. I implore animation fans to protest these films, and to show up in droves for the actual animated films. No one should pressure one art form out because of what is shiny and new.
If Disney likes their old library of films, then why are they changing them? What do they have to be ashamed of? And why does their studio seem committed to such action, if it already has Star Wars and Marvel? If films like The Finest Hours are still making money, why do you need to change classics that were well received to begin with? Is it all about money now? Or is there one vein of creativity that you haven't bled dry, waiting for the next changing of the guard? Time's catching up to you, mad that you've wasted his gifts, and recycling old ideas won't stop him forever.
There's only two roads open to you now:
Either prove that there's still some glimmer of Walt's innovation inside the studio, or sacrifice it all for the bottom line. The choice is yours. I hope you know what to do. Because if you don't, Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, and Warner Bros. will be happy to take over.
Postscript: The live-action Alice sequel has failed. That said, there's still far too much chance of something backfiring with another live-action film for me to recant this message.
To sum up: Beware of the road that others walk, time and again, while learning nothing, or you'll be trampled by the rush of mistakes that follows. In simpler terms, don't blindly follow the crowd. Show imagination when you make art. Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!