Is this the smartest remake formula ever?
When we brought you the first look at the trailer for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast live-action remake from director Bill Condon, everybody noticed pretty much the same thing: how much this new version looks like the animated version the Mouse House cranked out in ’91. The yellow dress, the blue coat, the palace, the ballroom – these and more clued us visually to the fact that these two versions are going to share more than a studio and a title. And that makes sense because like they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Granted, there were some narrative and visual differences between Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent, and the animated versions of The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and their live-action remakes, but Beauty and the Beast has been made and remade and remade. Hell, just a year or two ago there was a live-action version from French director Christophe Gans starring Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux. Getting a fresh take on this story at this point would likely be desperate and exaggerated, kind of like that Ethan Hawke/Bill Murray version of Hamlet, so of course Disney just returned to the well. They can, after all, claim the most successful cinematic version of the film, so why try to top themselves when they can just recreate what make them truckloads of money the first time around?
This might come across as a little cynical, and it would be if the re-creation hadn’t gone so well. That first trailer quickly became the most-viewed in YouTube history within 24 hours, and if half of the 127.6 million people who watched it in that time frame show up opening weekend, this won’t be the last record Beauty and the Beast shatters. And the best part (for Disney executives)? The studio has a bunch of live-action stuff lined up – The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan— so expect this formula to continue.
To reveal just how similar the two Disney versions of Beauty and the Beast are, the fine folks at Glass Distortion have made the following comparative video placing scenes from the live-action trailer alongside some from the animated film. Not only does Disney has a beloved story and one of the most popular actresses in the world (Emma Watson) in their corner, they also have nostalgia on their side. Remember that money bin Scrooge McDuck would swim in on Duck Tales? Yeah, everybody involved in making Beauty and the Beast is going to need one of those come next March.