Disney’s Beauty and the Beast live action remake is finally here and whether you’re excited, resentful or just plain uninterested – this is only the start. The House of Mouse have already announced a slew of future reboots & reimaginings and it won’t be long before they’re churning them out twice a year like they’re Tyler Perry films or Spider-Man reboots. So while some may damn this entire endeavour, the past Disney lineup contains too many wonderful stories that deserve a sprucing up, and so we here at ORWAV have taken some time to dig through your childhood and pick out a few classic antiques, underappreciated gems and forgotten favourites that might benefit from a fresh coat of paint.
First up, we’re going back to one of Disney’s darkest outings…
1. The Black Cauldron (1985)
Based on Lloyd Alexander’s high fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain, this infamous disaster made records as the most expensive Disney film to date, and the first to receive a PG rating. The Black Cauldron was meant to be the Snow White for a new generation of animators, an instant classic and a testament to the limitless potential of the art form. Unfortunately, while some appreciated the film’s dark tone and commitment to its fantasy roots, a mixed critical response and poor box office performance left Disney so dismayed they tried to forget the whole film even happened, and delayed the home video release for 13 years.
We actually have The Black Cauldron to thank for Disney’s golden age; the film’s flop led to the entire animation department being unceremoniously kicked out of Walt Disney Studios and sent to a warehouse down the road, tasked with working to tighter schedules and smaller budgets. This led to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and ten years of animated magic. After all that Mickey owes to The Black Cauldron, it seems only fair that it gets another chance in the spotlight – and it’s not like there’s a lack of source material to pull from.
Alexander’s five novels and eight short stories contain a host of fascinating stories that could be incorporated into a remake – and the sequel opportunities are boundless. There’s great visual potential too; the original film’s villain, the Horned King (voiced by John Hurt), and his grisly army of Cauldron-Born could have been pulled straight from a visual effects artist’s dream – or perhaps just a child’s nightmare. Disney’s live action reboots so far have largely focused on mighty castles, humble villages and idyllic forests – a good director could run wild with The Black Cauldron, as adventures unfold everywhere from murky swamps to subterranean kingdoms. Part of the reason The Black Cauldron broke the bank was the producer’s choice to push a revolutionary combination of hand-drawn animation, CG and live action effects, and there’s no reason a live action remake couldn’t adopt a similar approach.
Now we’re heading into the murky depths of the Disney back catalogue for a cult hit…
2. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Another classic-in-the-making brought down by lackluster box office performance, Atlantis faced fierce competition on release from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Shrek. Opening second and pulling in $186 million worldwide just doesn’t cut the mustard with Disney, who pulled the plug on what was set to be a major franchise. But c’mon! Michael J. Fox, Leonard Nimoy, a Joss Whedon script and a bewitching animation style based on Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics – Atlantis deserves more than one lousy DVD sequel and a cancelled theme park ride.
Live action would be a great fit for Atlantis. Mignola’s unique blocky style is proven to translate well into the real word (just look at the Hellboy films, which are nothing if not visually stylish). Hell, just get Guillermo Del Toro in to direct this – his reverence for practical effects, and skill at building moody and immersive worlds, make him a perfect choice to bring the adventures of Milo and the Ulysses back to the big screen. He’s no stranger to fighting mighty underwater beasties either – think of what he could do with Atlantis’ security systems.
Sure, Atlantis isn’t exactly old – but it’s been 16 years, and I doubt the kids of today are that well versed in the exploits of Milo and his misfit pals. The crew of the Ulysses offer a chance for some delicious Whedonesque witty banter – and some much-needed diversity in the Disney live action lineup. Atlantis’ relatively low place in the Disney canon can work in its favour here, as a reboot can stick to or veer from the original movie without causing a riot.
This final one might be a little controversial, but hear me out…
3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Don’t get me wrong: Who Framed Roger Rabbit is fantastic, and does not need rebooting. Any remake would be met with cultural disdain and inevitably flop. That wacky noir plot, combined with incredibly detailed hand-drawn animation and stellar physical performances by Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd – Robert Zemeckis caught lightning in a bottle with Roger Rabbit and there’s no way to recreate it.
But the premise of the film is too good to leave behind. Enter Wreck-It Ralph 2.
The concepts for these two movies mesh perfectly together. You could stick with the Rabbit plot, and have an old-school gumshoe teaming up with Ralph and co. to solve a murder (they could meet legendary game detectives like Nick Valentine and Carmen Sandiego along the way), or maybe try for something more modern – how about a doping scandal? Heroes across eSports are being caught red-handed with 1-up mushrooms and power pellets. A mysterious blue streak has been seen smuggling power-ups into the city – enter a former arcade champion, who is tasked with investigating the most likely culprit: Sonic the Hedgehog.
(Yes, I know, they already have a sequel in production to be released next year, but this could just as easily be the threequel.)
Game characters entering the real world is a tried-and-true moneymaker. Just look at Pixels, which still managed to make $250m despite appalling reviews. We know Disney have the cash to spring for the copyright licenses – and the cross-promotional opportunities are limitless. Disney would be mad to ignore this golden opportunity to combine their love of merchandising with their compulsive need to reboot everything in sight.
These are just a few suggestions of where Disney could go next with their live action reboot plans, but what would you like to see? Let us know via Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below!