Everybody's been dancing on DreamWorks Animation sagging spine. But The Atlantic takes a whack at the Mouse's frenzy of live-action remakes:
News of a Beauty and the Beast remake indicates that the corporation is less and less worried about approving unoriginal products as long as they're guaranteed moneymakers.
On Monday, actress and feminist icon du jour Emma Watson announced via her Facebook page that she's committed to starring as Belle in the upcoming live-action Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Yes, that Belle, in that Beauty and the Beast, the film Disney made in 1991. The news comes just before the March release of Disney's live-action Cinderella (directed by Kenneth Branagh) and The Jungle Book (directed by Jon Favreau, due in 2016). ...
Disney’s live-action approach is more than easy money—it's a way to expand demographics without having to worry too much about quality. Both Disney and its subsidiary Pixar make plenty of children's films that adults can enjoy, but usually to pull that off the movies actually have to be good ... Remakes allow the studio to avoid that problem. ...
I think the Atlantic has part of this right, but it also misses a larger point: Disney isn't Disney anymore. It's a collection of brands, a gathering of machines that crank out movies designed to make big money, drive merchandising, and fuel the amusement parks.
The conglomerate is (as I've said before) the Berkshire-Hathaway of entertainment conglomerates. It's now about "increasing share holder value," not about art. This doesn't mean the pictures aren't expensive, or as "good" as they're allowed to be given what each is required to do*. (And this isn't exactly new. There were two live-action 101 Dalmations ... and direct-to-video cartoon versions ... in the nineties.)
I know there are those who wring their hands over the lost purity of "old Disney." But the product under Walt was never as pure and wonderful as memories hold it. (Sword In the Stone has great animation, but a great picture it is not.) Better to accept the reality that everything changes, and enjoy the entertainments the Mouse creates today.
The old magic isn't coming back. So you better damn well settle for the new.
* Reinvigorate the franchise. Put toys on the shelves.