Remakes, revivals, and reboots: They’re all the rage in Hollywood these days, and it seems even dependable old Disney is no exception.
Just a day after “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson announced on her Facebook page that she will be playing Belle in the live-action remake of the Disney animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” Deadline reported that the company is eyeing actor Chris Pratt to star in a reboot of the action-adventure movie series “Indiana Jones.”
“Things are very early,” according to the report. But even the rumor that Pratt – who jumped to star status after landing the lead for the summer blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy” – might be donning Harrison Ford’s famous fedora raises the question: Why?
The answer, according to The Atlantic’s David Sims, has to do with money – but not entirely.
Over the last few years, Disney has been going the way of live-action remakes of its animated films. In 2010, the company released a Tim Burton-directed “Alice and Wonderland” film starring (who else?) Johnny Depp, and last year they had Angelina Jolie retell the story of “Sleeping Beauty” villain Maleficent.
Neither did well by critics, Mr. Sims noted, but both were box-office gold.
At the same time, Disney has been picking up movie licenses left and right. It bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion, then shelled out roughly an equal amount for Lucasfilm, the studio behind “Star Wars,” in 2012. It purchased the "Indiana Jones" franchise from Paramount the following year.
To say the Marvel movies have been a success is an understatement, and the 7th “Star Wars” film is poised to break box office records when it comes out in late 2015.
But Sims pointed out that these movies do more than make money for Disney: By reviving familiar stories and well-loved characters, the company touches both the imagination of children and the nostalgia of adults, broadening the age range of the company’s audience.
And they can do it without the pressure of creating something of the caliber of “Wreck-It Ralph” or “Up," both produced by Disney and its subsidiary, Pixar, from scratch.
“Disney’s live-action approach is more than easy money – it's a way to expand demographics without having to worry too much about quality,” Sims noted.
So even if we moviegoers don't need another Indiana Jones – or, as it happens, a live-action “Cinderella” starring Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Stepmother, or a remake of “The Jungle Book” directed by Jon Favreau – we’ll likely watch them all anyway.