Considering how long they’ve been a studio and how strong a brand they’ve created in the global marketplace, Walt Disney Studios seems to constantly be reinventing themselves. Right now, they are in the middle of what seems to be a major shift in terms of identity, turning into a sort of brand-management superstore.
After all, they’ve got Pixar, Marvel, and “Star Wars” all under the broader Disney logo these days, and I hear there’s another mega-brand that they’re possibly going to purchase soon. Disney’s production slate no longer offers up original material. Instead, you’re going to see those brands and nothing else. Even when Pixar makes a non-sequel, it’s all about the “Pixar” brand, and that’s what Disney is selling over any of their individual titles.
Now it looks like we’re seeing another emerging trend at the studio, live-action remakes of their fairy tale classics. “Maleficent” revealed some footage at this year’s D23 Expo, and it’s amazing how carefully they’ve worked to recreate the exact look of the “Sleeping Beauty” world and how much every member of the cast looks like the animated versions of the characters. The studio is also making “Cinderella” right now, with Kenneth Branagh directing what he promises will be a very faithful rendition of the story as Disney told it.
I don’t really see the point of these films beyond recycling some of their time-tested classics, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern for the studio. After all, “Alice In Wonderland” made the studio a billion dollars, and that kind of money sends a very loud and clear message to the people making these decisions. Who cares if it’s a good idea or a bad idea, just so long as you can point at box-office receipts?
Aline Brosh McKenna just wrapped up work on “Cinderella” for the studio, so it makes sense that the studio would lock her down for “Cruella,” which is evidently going to fill in the no-doubt fascinating backstory of the villain from “101 Dalmatians.” I’m not sure why this particular property made the cut, especially considering they made two live-action films in 1996 and 2000, with Glen Close chewing scenery without any restraint at all.
We’ll see what approach they take to this one, but I would expect that if even one of these hits, we’ll see Disney dig even deeper into the archives to turn more of their films into live-action equivalents. If that happens, I’m blaming each and every one of you who takes their kids.
No word yet on when Disney’s planning to try and release this one.