The Little Mermaid is only the newest of Disney’s animated adaptations. As live-action takes on Moana, Hercules, Lilo and Stitch, and Snow White are all churning their way through the Mouse House production factory, the man leading the “reimagination” is Walt Disney Pictures president Sean Bailey, who has at least 50 more projects waiting in the wings.
This figure comes courtesy of a new profile in the New York Times. Bailey—whose “division makes two or three big-budget films annually for release in theaters and three modestly budgeted movies for Disney+”—says that one of the main reasons for these live-action adaptations is to find a way to “make Disney stories less retrograde.” By this he means less overwhelmingly misogynist and white. Two admirable goals, but absolutely unnecessary for productions like Moana and Lilo and Stitch. He’s also working on Mufasa, the Lion King prequel directed by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins, due out in 2024. Bailey believes that The Lion King franchise has “big, epic saga” potential on the level of something like Star Wars, noting “There’s a lot of room to run if we can find the stories.”
Additionally, the profile says that “restarting the five-film Pirates of the Caribbean series is another priority” for Bailey. Those films are fine, and that universe is full of opportunity to do other spooky weird supernatural offshoots with other ships. You don’t need to remake the Pirates franchise. When asked if controversial star Johnny Depp would return as Captain Jack Sparrow, Bailey responded “Noncommittal at this point.” Another live-action franchise that still has life left in it, according to the profile, is Hocus Pocus, which now has a third film in the works after last year’s Disney+ sequel to the 1993 cult favorite.
This whole thing is absolutely grim. A bleak look at Disney’s plan to release two to three films a year that prize aesthetics over artistry. And if you can rewrite a classic, why not? That’s easy money.
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