Another weekend, another top three performance by Disney yet again. In it's fourth weekend in theaters, their live action remake of Beauty and the Beast was number two at the box office, beaten barely by The Boss Baby, which entered its second weekend. Worldwide, it has made almost a billion dollars with impressive runs domestically and internationally. It is unbelievable that it's able to make that much very quickly. How and why do these films garner so much success at the box office?
For the 2010s, Disney has lit up the decade. It has had a big resurgence and has had a big era since at least the mid 90s. Their animated films on their own have picked up quite a bit. I see them as a lot more confident in putting them in theaters compared to the decade prior where direct-to-video was one of their big moneymakers. Stuff like Tangled, Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia shows that they can do well if they have the right people involved. Especially if you have people who worked on other project, whether from Disney or not. Of course, their Pixar library has done well despite a few bumps with things like Cars 2. The live action material still has its hits and misses.
With the remakes, it goes back to when Alice in Wonderland hit theaters at the start of 2010. I think what helps with these films is the curiosity of what could possibly happen if you were to see it. In the case of Alice, when it's headed by Tim Burton, you know there will be a style that he has done since the days of Beetlejuice and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Not to mention how it is different from the animated film. It didn't have the strongest reception, which is the case with most of these live action adaptations, but made it to over a billion dollars. Disney had this and Toy Story 3 that year as the top two films that with over a billion each. Woody and the gang made just a little more.
While these next two weren't remakes, they caught some attention. The first was Oz: The Great and Powerful in early 2013. I should say these movies had very expensive budgets. We're talking at least 200 plus million with a few of these films. It made big money, but did not make it to half a billion worldwide and had a mixed reception. The next one was Maleficent in the summer of 2014. From what I understand, this is the villain from Sleeping Beauty. The star power helps when you have Angelina Jolie as the title character. I'm not saying that's the only reason it did well, but it gives a little edge when you make hit after hit. At the same time, you do get to see Maleficent's origins and what she would become. If the idea of a live action Sleeping Beauty does come into fruition, it could be bigger. Once again, there wasn't a hugely positive reception but made over 750 million worldwide.
The last two years prior to 2017, Disney has gotten back into doing remakes. Two years ago, they did Cinderella, which made over 500 million worldwide, and had the cheapest budget of the remakes at 95 million. However, its reception was a bit stronger as it was well received. Last year saw The Jungle Book hit theaters and it was very huge, critically and commercially. Prior to Beauty and the Beast, it was the biggest remake of these films. It's an intriguing thing because you wouldn't think of these necessarily translating well into live action. Cinderella is an odd choice out of the films Disney has done to be put into live action. The Jungle Book would be a lot more demanding due to the many characters and set pieces that are seen. Whatever they did with these two, it worked. The company must be feeling very confident considering they got the same director for Jungle Book, Jon Favreau (Elf, Iron Man 1-2) to direct the live action Lion King film.
What helps a bit is that there are people who obviously grew up on some Disney films as kids, whether seeing them in the theater or seeing them on VHS, DVD or TV. As some have kids of their own, there might still be that love for Disney and you want to show your child some of the stuff you grew up with if they weren't very stubborn in protecting the films. When you look at the company's output since the 1930s, a lot of these animated films have that timeless appeal. Even if you don't have a kid, you could be very excited or concerned and have a certain emotion when you do see the final product in theaters. As I said, it's curiosity for the most part.
I think as long as they don't deviate too much from the source material if it is that and the animated versions, Disney could wind up doing more versions of their animated films in live action. Whenever The Lion King comes out, it's going to be very huge. When it came out in 1994, it was nearly a billion dollars worldwide. It could possibly reach that mark very quickly in live action. If the reception is still good, who knows what it will take at the end of the 2010s and into the new decade. People will always be intrigued and Disney will find a way to put butts in seats.
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