Monday, June 10, 2019

Is Disney Being Smart?

Those of us who grew up watching the classic Disney animated films ask ourselves why they keep putting out live action remakes. Sometimes they're fun, but wasn't it more fun when, for instance, the first Pirates of the Caribbean came out? (That was based on a ride, but it still counts as original.) We decide that, well, they know we'll go to see the movies, anyway, so that's why they keep making them.

But I just realized that it may be something else: they're keeping the beloved stories relevant.

Since we grew up on the old films, we think they're relevant. And they are. But anyone who spends time around kids or people who have kids knows that the reality is usually different. I remember Jennifer Oakes on YouTube mentioning that her children don't like the classically animated films--they only like the newer animation. And I know someone who's said the same thing. So that cuts out Snow White, Bambi, Peter PanCinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, etc. Maybe when they're older they'll rediscover the old classics, but kids these days are watching the new stuff: Tangled, Frozen, and Coco. And yet because Disney isn't just a film studio, they want to find a way to keep kids' interest in the old classics.

They can certainly use Frozen and Coco in the theme parks and for merch. But they still want to keep all that they've built up on the old stories. So how do they do that? By making new films that are a little different but mainly still just the same thing, reworked in a new way that children today will watch today. They don't need to win over the parents to love the new movies and say they're the best thing ever: if the parents just buy a copy at the store when it becomes a low-priced DVD or they turn the movie on at home through Netflix, then the kids are the ones getting to see the story and getting to form a connection with it just like their parents did before them with the animated films. They'll both love the same story, even if they made a connection to it from a different source.

It makes enough sense that I'm sure Disney must have been thinking this all along and I don't know why I only just realized it now. (That is, maybe I had to a lighter degree, but I hadn't quite made that connection with the whole kids-don't-like-old-animation thing before.)

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