This morning, Disney surprised long-time classic Disney movie fans with a teaser trailer announcing their production of a live-action remake of the 1991 film “Beauty and the Beast.” The minute-and-a-half trailer offers a slow-moving pan of the mysterious Gothic manor hideaway of the Beast with just a few brief quotes as voice over from Lumiere, voiced by Ewan McGreggor, and Cogsworth, voiced by Ian McKellen. The video closes by revealing Emma Watson as our leading lady, Belle, as she reaches for the Beast’s iconic rose.
With the advent of superhero movies, the long-overdue continuation of the Star Wars saga, and the renewed public interest in “Dr. Who,” it’s incredibly apparent that this generation loves a good throwback. Box office numbers certainly prove that it’s worthwhile for film-making companies to recreate classic favorites. According to CNN, Disney’s live-action remake of “The Jungle Book” has brought in $850 million globally since it opened in April. So, it’s no wonder that Disney would be quick to invest their resources into another remake of a beloved classic.
It’s truly magical to see your favorite childhood classics brought to life with the advanced film-making technology that this century has to offer, and I would be lying if I said that I’m not as excited as the next child born in the nineties for this new film. However, I find it unsettling that this generation has traded originality for milking old ideas for every last dollar. That’s not to say that there isn’t some creative merit in remakes, and I’m also not saying that there aren’t any fresh stories being released. I do wish, though, that this generation would emphasize more of its own original stories instead of recycling older ones for profit. Granted, human beings are notoriously creatures of habit, and it’s common, anyway, for creative works to go in a cycle and come full circle. Remakes are profitable because they are safe. Filmmakers and writers already know what stories their audiences love. Conversely, releasing a completely original film is dangerous because there are no guarantees on audience reception. However, for original films that are widely received and successful, they allow a breath of fresh air for their general audiences who are looking for new characters to fall in love with and new stories to experience. Again, it’s still exciting to have a childhood favorite revisited, but there is still nothing like visiting a whole new world.
Speaking of which, I might not think so critically of these things if Disney had announced a live-action remake of “Aladdin.”