Disney has been creeping its way into an era of live-action remakes for some time now. It started with Alice in Wonderland in 2010 and has expanded to the likes of Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. With the success of the earlier live-action remakes, Disney was quick to announce plenty of upcoming reboots. Some of the films that are set to get the live-action treatment include Dumbo, Lion King, and Aladdin. But for every Disney classic that has an upcoming reboot, there is another one that is impatiently waiting to be remade.
There are varying reasons why Disney may not have yet given the green light to some films to be remade. Some might be considered too recent to be remade, some may not be suited to live-action, and some may have not been as highly regarded as other classics. But there are still plenty that would make great remakes, and we can only assume they haven’t been announced yet because there are too many others on the go.
So without further ado, here is a list of 15 Disney Live-Action Remakes They Aren’t Making – But They Should.
It’s kind of obvious why there hasn’t yet been a Tarzan remake announced yet. The world is already swimming with Tarzan live-action films, with The Legend of Tarzan in 2016 being the most recent. However, no Tarzan film has managed to be as timeless and heart warming as Disney’s. If they created that as a live-action version, it could outdo every Tarzan live-action movie that came before it.
One thing that made Disney’s Tarzan so special was its soundtrack. With a high-budget Disney film, it would be easy to attract a big name to remake that soundtrack and make it every bit as great, but with a fresh take on it. Remember Lana Del Rey’s hauntingly beautiful cover of Once Upon A Dream for Maleficent? We want that same treatment for the Tarzan soundtrack. We can think of plenty of A-listers who would be up to the task – Ed Sheeran and John Legend both spring to mind.
Just like Tarzan, there have been a few live-action films following a variation of the Hercules story. But none of them had the all-singing, all-dancing razzle-dazzle that Disney gave us. They all tend to follow the same overly serious, hyper-masculine tone. A live-action remake of Disney’s Hercules would be the perfect compromise between a Disney animated musical and a testosterone-pumped swords and sandals film. It would be Disney enough that kids would love it, but the parents who are so often are neglected in the family film market would have that dash of epic battle scenes to keep them entertained.
Plus, we would love to see Danny Devito back in his role as Phil the Satyr. As for Hercules, we know Zac Efron has earned his musical stripes with Hairspray and High School Musical (as much as he wants us to forget it). Maybe this one would suit his new beefed-up image? But more importantly, if it was successful then Disney could expand into other Greek myths and create a shared universe of characters and stories.
13. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame became known as Disney’s darkest animated film. The villain seemed far too dark for a cartoon, many of the songs have a sinister tone, and Quasimodo doesn’t even end up with the girl at the end. So if Disney is looking for a film that isn’t too cartoonish to make it in the live-action world, then this is the one. It could make for something more serious and perhaps more adult from Disney, and the torture and prejudice that Quasimodo and Esmeralda endure would be enough to attract some serious character actors. Dare we even dream of Oscar nominations?
Before we get ahead of ourselves though, there is talk of a live-action film about the character of Esmeralda being made by someone other than Disney. This probably means a Disney remake is less likely. But still, there are multiple live-action Little Mermaid films happening elsewhere, and Disney is still getting in on the action there.
Mulan is already set to be remade and, as long as issues like white-washing are avoided, that’s good news for the current cry for diversity in Hollywood. Mulan was praised for giving a Chinese woman a place amongst Disney royalty. It also didn’t hurt that she was a bad-ass woman who went after more than just a prince. However, before Disney got Mulan right they managed to get Pocahontas wrong.
Disney’s adaptation of Pocahontas failed to represent the Native American community in a respectful way, primarily because it varied so much from the true story, which was a significant and dark part of history.
A live-action remake would be the perfect way for Disney to redeem itself. The movie could keep the same catchy tunes and cute animal companions, but learn from its mistakes and make something less problematic and more historically accurate.
11. Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
The live-action remake of The Jungle Book proved to be a hit, despite relying on CGI for the large cast of animals. This gave Disney enough confidence to do a remake of one of its all-time biggest hits – The Lion King – gave us the confidence that it’ll be remade well.
The Lion King is now a massively successful stage musical in London and New York, so we have no worries it will translate well into a live-action film. There were so many things that made Lion King so great: the music, the animal kingdom twist on Hamlet, and there was Timone and Pumba. Hakuna Matata, eh?
But Lion King has one advantage over almost any Disney film ever made: the sequel was good. Like, really good. Anyone who’s sat through a Cinderella sequel will know how bad Disney sequels can be, but Lion King II managed to do its predecessor justice. For that alone the Lion King remake deserves the same great sequel.
Maleficent came fairly early on in the era of live-action remakes, but also bought a big twist to the table. What if live-action remakes delve into a different point of view? More excitingly, what if they tell us the villain’s side of the story? Because, let’s be honest, the villains are quite often the best character of any film.
A remake for Aladdin is already set to go, after the previous idea for a live-action prequel called Genies was seemingly scrapped. If there was interest in a prequel that would explore a different angle of the Aladdin story, so why not channel that into another villain back story? If it worked for Maleficent, why couldn’t it work for Jafar? He’s every bit as evil, every bit as mysterious, and he has a great parrot sidekick. It would be a great companion film for the new Aladdin.
9. The Princess and The Frog
The Princess and The Frog was the last Disney princess film in the traditional animation style, and so represented the end of a much-loved Disney era. It was also regarded as a massively important film, as Tiana was the first black Disney princess, which made the film spread an important message to young people across the world. It also bought something more fresh to Disney, by adding some twists and changes to the story it was based on.
With so many of the Disney princesses getting live-action remakes, we definitely want Tiana to get her own remake too. The only problem is the original The Princess and The Frog was made as recent as 2009, so it’s likely that it’s probably too soon at the moment to expect a remake. We’re certainly ready to see more of Tiana, so we’re hoping Disney won’t keep us waiting too long.
8. Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp contains one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time– something not easy to create out of dogs eating spaghetti. It became one of the most famous romance movies of all time, made all the more adorable by the fact it was about cartoon dogs. It’s the perfect time to bring this story back to life, with a live-action remake.
Everyone loves dogs, and everyone loves movies about dogs. And most decades have an iconic dog movie, with Marley and Me undoubtedly snatching the title for the ’00s. This decade has yet to have a big blockbuster dog film, possibly due to the controversy surrounding A Dog’s Purpose.
If anyone can make a good family friendly dog movie it’s Disney. With past live-action animal films including Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, the studio definitely has experience in this area. Why not satisfy both the trend of live-action remakes and the need for a doggy-themed blockbuster with an adorable Lady and the Tramp remake?
With Pinocchio and Dumbo both set to be remade, and other animal-centric films like Lion King and Jungle Book already getting the remake treatment, it seems impossible that Bambi has been left out. We would definitely bet money on it being announced next if Disney green-lights any more remakes. There is definitely demand for one, and there has even been an SNL sketch about a Bambi remake. It seems like everyone except Disney is ready for another Bambi.
Bambi ticks all the boxes when it comes to a remake. It was made way back in 1942, meaning it’s definitely not too recent to be remade. It’s famous and iconic enough that people are still interested in the story. Also, it’s got enough plot and emotion to keep people of all ages interested. So someone please tell us, why the hell wasn’t this on the top of the list for remakes?
There is no doubting that Ursula is one of the most intriguing Disney villains we’ve seen. Her song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is definitely the best villain song we’ve heard. And unlike many villains, she had more than just one victim. Ariel was just one in what appears to be a long line of souls she’s tricked for her own gain and we’d love to see what she did to them.
We’d also love to know what made Ursula become so evil. After the success of Maleficent and with the promise of an upcoming Cruella movie, we’re confident Disney could do a good job.
To add to all this, in the Little Mermaid 2 we found out that she has an equally evil sister called Morgana. The only thing we can think of that’s better than a film about a Disney villain, is a film about two. The pair could make for a great double act, going around the ocean and preying on innocent mer-folk.
Fantasia might not seem like the most obvious film to get a live-action remake, but hear us out. One tiny part of Fantasia is already being expanded into a live-action remake already. Chernaborg is set to be a feature-length film following the villain from the final segment of the 1940 Fantasia. Little more is known about this, but it would make sense to do a remake of Fantasia to go along with it: or alternatively, make a series of other live-action films based on other segments from the classic.
Plus, Fantasia would be a great movie to update. The segmented format of the original film would allow for both old parts to be remade and new parts to be added without it affecting an overarching plot. They could even play with the idea of doing parts in live-action and CGI and parts with old school animation still involved (a modern twist on the style of Who Framed Roger Rabbit) to keep Fantasia as experimental as it was when it first hit the big screen. It would also keep us from the terrifying idea of Mickey Mouse as a live-action character.
4. The Emperor’s New Groove
The Emperor’s New Groove is one of the funniest Disney films of all time. Period. With all these remakes being made, we can’t help but notice that none of them so far have been heavy on comedy. There’s no reason why we can’t get more of Kuzco’s signature charm.
Made in 2000, it’s arguably either just after or right at the very tail end of the Disney Renaissance, which seems to be the last era that currently qualifies for a remake based on Disney’s announcements so far. However, it’s been 17 years since the film came out and the audience that first watched it are all grown up. Plus, the current list of remakes will be probably pushing the Disney schedule back for many years to go – we’d guess at least til the mid 2020s.
Poor Rapunzel. She’s always been one of the most famous fairytale princesses along with of Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. But it was starting to look like she’d never get a Disney movie, until Tangled was released in 2010. This made her movie vastly different from the typical Disney princesses – her songs had a different sound, the film was computer animated, and the story was given some quirkier twists. These all made the movie great, but it also lacked that classic Disney feeling.
The story of Rapunzel was always an obvious choice for a Disney Renaissance hit, but it missed out on that and was instead made to revive interest in Disney princesses, and pave the way for Brave and Frozen. Since Rapunzel missed out on some of the best eras of Disney, wouldn’t it be a shame if Tangled missed out on the Disney live-action remake treatment too?
2. Brother Bear
Brother Bear is little known in comparison to most of Disney’s animated films, but it’s a beautiful and heart warming film and is cherished by anyone who loves it. A live-action remake would be a perfect way to bring this cult favorite film to a wider audience. It has the perfect balance between animal and human characters to provide something interesting without being too heavy on the CGI.
If we’re completely honest, we doubt it will ever get a live-action reboot. It’s definitely one of the less obvious choices, and given that it’s not as well known it would be a big risk for Disney to sink a lot of money into. It was also made in 2003 and so, like some others on this list, Disney might judge it to be too soon for a remake.
1. Lilo and Stitch
Lilo and Stitch is an endearing story about a kid and her love for her alien pet. It is a refreshing, off-beat Disney film; one of the last made without computer animation. But that didn’t make it in any way traditional. The film had an animation style that was unlike the usual Disney look, which makes it stand out among other Disney animated films. We think that a live-action remake could be just as visually stunning. The story is set on the beautiful island of Kaua’i in Hawaii, and so there’s plenty of opportunity for scenic beach shots.
The Lilo and Stitch brand blew up into numerous direct to video and TV film sequels, a massive range of merchandise, and a television series. These all point to the fact that it’s a profitable brand, and one that can be expanded successfully.
Let’s be honest, the story of Lilo and Stitch is much more relevant than traditional fairytales like Cinderella. It has an important, beautiful message about family, and represents and embraces Hawaiian culture.
Are there any other Disney films that you think deserve a reboot? Let us know in the comments.