With some notable creations coming to life, or that have already come to life, live-action is not a bad take from animated predecessors. There are many franchises that have gone through production, only to be met with less than stellar success. Some were only successes as they held the brand over their heads. Other live-action adaptations are either hit or miss and are clearly not made for everyone. We currently have our picks we plan to watch in our heads, if any. From Aladdin, to Detective Pikachu. The question though, are we creating too many? So many live-action adaptations in the works. How can we possibly keep up? We’re here to explore some in production at the moment, as well as those we may have already seen. Let’s begin, shall we?
Why the sudden trend?
First, we must ask about this trend of live-action adaptations. In fact, it’s nothing new. Asian cinema has been doing this for years, with adaptations of Cyborg 009, Lupin III, and Detective Conan. Hollywood in the US have also formed their own live-action adaptation of characters, most known from DC and Marvel comics. The most well-known of these comics being Batman, Superman, Spiderman and X-Men. There is no real difference in terms of character design as most are based around human anatomy. Take movies where you know they were made specifically with animal anatomy in mind. The Jungle Book (1994), being among the first out of a series of live-action Disney adaptations, did relatively well.
It may seem like it’s cut and dry, but there was another film that followed, 101 Dalmations. While 101 Dalmations had done very well at the box office, the sequel to that had done almost half in box office returns. It wouldn’t be for another 10 years after that when we receive a new live-action adaptation, Alice in Wonderland. Now, while Alice in Wonderland was considered a mediocre film for audiences and critics alike, it raked in over a billion dollars globally at the box office. This is when Disney knew they struck gold. There was no denying the numbers, the live-action treatment and success was the ‘boom’ Disney needed to reset their franchises. With new adaptations of their animated characters comes new possibilities and profitability.
However, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice releasing shortly afterwards didn’t do too well and was considered a flop at the box office. This did not stop Disney, and their next film went on to start their live-action adaptation “re-imagining.”
The real start in the trend of live-action adaptations, Maleficent. Still, being only considered a mediocre film, the Disney brand carried it over to successful territory. With Angelina Jolie as the villain, this was supposed to be an amazing film. It did ‘wow’ some people, while others were less impressed. It wasn’t often the backgrounds or acting where some of these films suffered, but the material itself. People would probably have been on better terms with the movie if it went darker, closer to the ending of the original Sleeping Beauty.
Maleficent didn’t have to be exactly interpreted from the original source material, but at the same time it should have felt like an epic story. After this, Disney just continues to churn out further live-action adaptations, with mixed results just the same. It seems Christopher Robin has hit a bit of a snag, but that’s not slowing down the live-action films one bit.
New Releases on the horizon!
With most of these films being mediocre to pretty entertaining, are we just asking for trouble? There was a broadway musical adaptation of The Lion King which is supposed to be extremely well-done. Possibly one of the best. So, in theory, an adaptation translated to a full feature-length live-action film should work out just as well. Perhaps in box office numbers, but a realist can’t hold his expectations up too high, considering previous Disney releases. However, we shouldn’t entirely write off the film either. The CGI looks amazing, as with most other adaptations Disney has done of course. It comes down to a cohesive and engaging story. Do we care about the characters? Are we able to understand what is happening?
Can you get through an episode of Dora the Explorer? Well, how about a live-action adaptation, but she’s in High School? Yep! All grown up! Oh and of course, it is likely to be at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half. It’s intended for kids, or maybe those who grew up watching it, but it still doesn’t look too enticing. There is also a film coming out called Detective Pikachu, and their live-action Pikachu looks both cute and creepy. Dumbo as well, not looking like a very good adaptation of the elephant itself. The Lady and the Tramp, Mulan, Maleficent II (because of course there is), Lilo & Stitch, and The Little Mermaid. Just wow! Disney looks like they are suffocating their original films.
While there is no denying the financial successes of most Disney live-action films, there are still some contenders that might be a solid watch. Detective Pikachu looks interesting and many people feel the same. Some people are adamant about not wanting to go see the film. Being one of the most successful franchises ever, and perhaps the most well-known, a live-action Pokemon movie makes sense. It’s stacking up to be a box office hit. There is barely any mention of anything not Disney, because let’s face it, they practically own the U.S. animated industry. Most any live-action adaptation will be Disney, now and moving forward. Some may escape the cracks, like Kim Possible, but most people are probably still thinking Disney.
Are we creating too many live-action adaptations? Converted from Disney classics, it looks like it. The possibilities are there. If done correctly, those films may even receive universal praise from both critics and audiences. No matter what, the films are looking to become very profitable. As someone who is looking to watch some of these live-action theatrical releases, keep in mind that there is yet to be any one of these films in my collection. Always looking to change that. These directors and producers have to give me a reason.
Aside from Disney, it’s a breath of fresh air to see others getting involved. Disney adaptations are fine, but it helps to level the playing field with other U.S.-based studios being involved. This is just scratching the surface, with Netflix also coming out with their own live-action adaptations. Help us…