Disney’s Secret Plan – Why They Keep Doing Live-Action Remakes

Source: Empire

When you think of classic Disney, what comes to mind aside from Mickey Mouse?

You’re probably picturing the original princesses like Ariel, Belle, and Cinderella. The princesses have been a Disney staple ever since the movie Snow White was released in the late ’30s. 

Even though these types of movies were released so long ago, they continue to stay prelevant today (they’re called classics for a reason). 

In 2010. Disney began their journey of live-action remakes of these classic movies. But why did they decide to do this instead of creating new stories?

Disney is very smart and strategic when it comes to marketing, so there are definitely reasons behind the remakes. Here are three huge reasons why they’re doing them. 

The Nostalgic Appeal

It’s no surprise that Disney wants to keep their longtime audience of those who grew up watching the original movies, wanting to be a princess, falling in love with a handsome prince, singing along to the classics, and of course being captivated by the characters and storylines. 

By remaking the classics, Disney is instilling positive memories and emotions from childhood.  

One of the first classic movies that was remade as a live-action in the 2010’s was Alice In Wonderland, followed by Maleficent (a remake of Snow White), and Cinderella.

Source: Disney
Source: IMDb
Source: IMDb

The original animated versions of these movies came out in the ’50s, but the age range that grew up watching the classics spans all the way to those born in the ’90s.

Adults who remember these movies fondly are likely to go see the remakes in theaters to relive their childhood memories. They already know the storyline, they know the characters, and they know the songs in the movies.

It’s an enjoyable experience for them to go into these movies with background knowledge of the history of them.

They are also likely to watch them out of curiosity. It’s interesting for them to see what a “real” version of their favorite Disney character looks like and if it matches up to the animated story.

The Relevancy Effect

It can be a challenge to bring things back from the past, but Disney knows exactly how to stay relevant.

They start with careful and strategic consideration of who to cast for these important roles.

By combining a well-known story with a well-known celebrity, something old and vintage becomes something new and novel.

Popular Celebrities In Disney Remakes

Disney also knows how to stay relevant with these remakes by sparking buzz online. Those who saw the original versions of these movies tend to share their opinions on social media about the remakes.

For instance, a recent live-action remake that Disney pursued was Aladdinand people were all over social media upon watching it, talking about their opinions and tweeting funny memes. The memes they used showed a positive reaction to the film, enjoying everything from the cast to the music.

Funny enough, when Disney first revealed the Aladdin remake cast in 2017, many people were furious about it. Instead of the funny memes, people were tweeting their angry opinions.

There was even some controversy with the casting of Princess Jasmine. Disney casted a non-Arab actress for this role, and many people were angered by this decision, sharing their negative thoughts online.

em 🙂 on Twitter


People also disagreed with Disney’s choices for the other cast members, such as Will Smith playing Genie. 

David Farrier on Twitter

re: live action simba: “take my money” re: live action genie: “remove my eyes immediately i never want to see again

However, despite the initial negative outlook on social media, Aladdin still became a box-office hit, bringing in over $112 million during its opening weekend.

Whether the opinions of the remakes on social media are positive or negative, it still creates an ongoing conversation that spreads like wildfire and it creates curiosity for those who weren’t originally interested in the movie.

The New Generation

Millennials are a huge portion of the remake audience and tend to get the most excited about Disney movies.

Now that millennials are having children/already have children, the remakes inspire millennial parents to pass on the love of Disney to their kids.

Nowadays, kids are basically born into the Disney fandom, so it isn’t too hard to believe that today’s young ones are always excited about Disney movies.

Disney knows that they can provide a cool, nostalgic experience for the parents, and a fun, new experience for the children. This is such a powerful marketing technique because Disney is combing such a wide range of age groups.

It can be difficult to appeal to both adults and children, but they seem to have it under control.

Disney is no amateur when it comes to marketing to kids. In fact, they knew exactly what they were doing when they released the movie Frozen.

Source: IMP Awards

Psychologists wrote on The Washington Post that young children are obsessed with Frozen for multiple reasons:

  • They relate to Elsa’s emotional impulses
  • They enjoy stories that involve magic and adventure – thanks to their large imaginations
  • They respond well to on screen family relationships and friendships due to the impact of their own families
  •  They absolutely love singing along to the songs – it makes them feel happy and free

This analysis ties together how the new remakes can appeal to both adults and children.

While adults are moved by the nostalgic emotions of familiar stories, kids are enthralled with new emotional connections to characters they are meeting for the first time.

All of the remakes contain elements of adventure. Again, adults get to relive the excitement and see how the adventure plays out in a new way. Kids get to focus in on a new adventure and become attached to the screen thanks to nonstop excitement.

The remakes also all contain music and singing, and let’s be real, there is no age limit to enjoying a fun sing-a-long. Kids get to sing with their parents, forming a joyous bonding experience for all involved. 

Final Thoughts

One may wonder why Disney wouldn’t just create new movies, with new storylines and new princesses. While they have created some fresh ones in the past several years, such as Frozen, a huge portion of their new princess movies have just been the live-action remakes.

Have they run out of ideas? Most likely not; they have a large, successful, and creative team.

My guess is that they don’t want to tarnish the original idea of Disney. They created an empire out of the princesses so it makes sense that they would want to continue to refresh the same ideas. They also don’t want to completely lose their adult audience by abandoning the past. 

They already have the blueprint to the most successful stories over the past 50+ years. Aside from nostalgia and wonder, the remakes bring them higher profit margins from reintroducing these classic stories to new generations. They wouldn’t want to reinvent the foundation that launched them.

Regardless of the reasons, the numbers show that it’s clearly working for them and they already have more remakes in production to be released in the upcoming years. 

About The Author

Laura Wigodner is the Content Marketing Manager for Nex Gen Dynamics. Her lifestyle articles have been featured on Elite Daily, Medium, and Thought Catalog to name a few. She also writes professionally on Content Marketing, Social Media, Branding, and more. A Bradley University Alum with a B.A. in Communications and Creative Writing, Laura loves writing poetry and watching YouTube videos. You can find the Swiftie on Twitter and Instagram, as well as anywhere there is coffee because that is her lifeline.