We all know the classic Disney movie “Lion King.” What I wanted to see when I rented the new live-action version was how it compared to the animated original. In short, the CGI movie did not actually live up to the animated version. It didn’t represent what Disney is and aside from the graphics, it was very bland.
Although it checked off the boxes by sticking with the script, it amazed me how good the graphics were. It often seemed as if there were actual warthogs who could sing like Pumbaa and a small meerkat who would feed you bugs off of a log. The attention to detail created an immersive experience that I personally enjoyed.
The 2019 “Lion King” is part of a boom of Disney live-action films, like the new version of “Aladdin” and the upcoming adaptation of “Mulan.” All of them were based on past Disney animated features from the 90s, which automatically creates a factor of nostalgia and familiarity for viewers.
Even though the audience for these films tends to be very young, in the end, the people who choose which movie tickets to buy are the parents. These same parents grew up on movies from the 90s. The more familiar they are with them, the more likely they are going to buy those tickets.
Another thing that affects what the box office results end up looking like is the hype people create. Earlier this year, you may remember how people on Twitter were talking about the upcoming live-action “The Little Mermaid.” While we still don’t know when it is going to be released, we are all excited about it for many reasons.
Most people are excited that the new film features a more diverse cast with the lead, Ariel, being Halle Bailey. Fans of the original are also excited to see how the reimagined version of the story would be produced and executed.
The graph below shows the worldwide box office sales from Internet Movie Database [IMDB.com] comparing the original movies and the live-actions. Making slight
changes to the original story to appeal to the audience creates an overall message that says “Hey, this is what you like, and we’re gonna make it slightly better!” What is interesting and quite contradictory though, is the fact that despite the higher profit, the reviews of the live-action are not as good. In the graph below, the left two are reviews of the original movies, while the right two are reviews of all live-action films that are based on Disney animated features. The reviews came from Rotten Tomatoes.
An interesting thing to note about the results is the fact that critics are usually less impressed by remakes compared to audiences. Critics base their review on the quality of the film. This is different from audience reviews, which although they show a decrease, it’s not as harsh because they have associated memories with the characters.
What this shows is Disney already knows that if people will go to see a new version of something they liked in the past, they don’t have to worry as much about the quality of the entertainment itself. Disney can sit back, relax, and make money on an old idea. This is also seen from a graph based on IMBD’s worldwide box-office results, which shows the worldwide box office sales for Disney live-action movies and original movies from the past 10 years. Having this $25 million dollar gap between the live-action and the animated version creates an incentive for Disney to create even more of these films.
Disney should not have to rely so much on these reruns because they have the power and platform to create amazing and original things. New movies in this decade like “Brave” and “Big Hero 6” are one of the few movies that were created by the minds at Disney recently without heavily basing it on any folktales or legends. I personally liked those movies better because they were stories I never heard while growing up, and they were stories that were never heard before.
What I advise Disney to do is to make more content like that, to show the true minds of the people who want to share an original story, and let them start and finish it the way they want to.
Sasha Tarassenko, 14, is a student at Paul Duke STEM High School who enjoys playing and listening to music.