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Jul 27, 2023

Many beloved movies come out of Disney. But the Mouse House seems to be losing its touch with live-action remakes.

Disney has captivated audiences for nearly 100 years. Their sweet spot has been animation, but they have been branching out into live-action for the past ten years. Not that they haven't tried live-action before.

The difference is that now they are in a remake mood, taking existing animated properties and turning them into live-action. But, unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be working.

One of the most interesting parts about Disney movies is their originality. Whether animated or live-action, they have produced more exciting children's content than anyone else in the industry.

This has also included a vast number of live-action films that include everything from Mary Poppins to Honey I Shrunk the Kids to the sci-fi visual fun of the original Tron. The movies continue to have broad appeal and feature compelling characters and character actors. It was a sweet spot that Disney was able to fill that did not just pad out their library.

Critics will say that Disney doesn't understand live-action anymore. They have run out of ideas and are unsure how to deal with new content. However, it appears that they are spending quite a bit of time on their animated projects (Pixar in particular) but still want to keep their feet wet in the live-action realm.

The thing is, Disney produces hundreds of hours of new content each year. The Disney Channel is full of popular content, and the Marvel and Star Wars properties are thriving. So why do they feel the need to recycle content that is not part of their lost archives? These stories have been told, shared, loved, put into the "Disney Vault," and reissued on DVD and then Disney+.

Related: Lilo & Stitch: Best Characters in the Animated Disney Classic, Ranked

And yet here comes Disney, making movies that are, in some cases, direct remakes of the classics. The Lion King, Mulan, The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, and now Lilo & Stitch. These movies often do not live up to the originals and even lose their charm when placed in a live-action setting. Disney seems set on continuing this trend with Peter Pan and Wendy and the upcoming Little Mermaid movie.

One of the problems Disney has faced is backlash over casting choices. These often surround the race of the characters and how they are changed from animated to live-action form. Recently, Disney defended its casting of Halle Bailey as the newest Ariel in The Little Mermaid since she is black. Disney has said (and rightfully so) that inclusion is important when creating content for children.

However, they have now encountered a different problem with Lilo & Stitch. While colorblind casting is becoming a usual trend, the company has seen a new form of backlash by casting an actor who had to be fired due to racially insensitive comments online. It isn't an auspicious beginning to a remake of what is arguably one of their most beloved animated movies featuring a non-white cast. Lilo & Stitch is meant to be a cornerstone film for Disney, and it is already making the wrong kind of waves with politics alone.

Related: The Little Mermaid Songwriter Says Song Lyrics Have Been Changed to Avoid Offense

Disney wants to be everything to everyone. Therefore, they believe they can pull two kinds of audiences with these live-action films: nostalgic adults and previously ignored minorities. The problem they are facing is that by remaking movies that feature people (unlike The Lion King or The Jungle Book), they are inserting colorblind casting, leading a variety of idiots to get angry about supposed racial issues, and for those same people to say that these were also the reasons the films were terrible.

Disney shouldn't be listening to these people in the first place, but what they should be doing is creating original content that features non-white characters in their own new stories. Yet they simply cut and paste as they see fit, appealing to such a small group that it doesn't even seem to make financial sense.

In recent months, Bob Iger has not only taken over Disney but has started implementing several large-scale changes. The company seems to have money issues, and Iger is looking to make some cuts.

The odds are that animation will come second to live-action remakes because a quick rewrite and grab-bag casting will give them press and, on the occasion that the movie succeeds, prestige. They seem to think the problem can be solved with volume rather than quality. Make them all and forget about the charm of the originals.

Live-action Disney remakes are unnecessary and unbeloved. Reviews for the new Peter Pan and Wendy film seem to reiterate this point. Disney needs to either acquire new properties (something they’ve been quite good at) or start making their own. The company famous for originality has lost touch with its roots, and it isn't benefiting the people they are attempting to bring in.

No release date has been announced for the live-action Lilo & Stitch film. However, it is scheduled for 2024.