The highest-grossing animated movie of all time is the 2019 remake of “The Lion King,” and it haunts me whenever I think about it. I have seen several Disney live-action/CGI remakes, and I’ve rarely left the viewing with anything I couldn’t get from the original film.

Take, for instance, the original “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s widely regarded as one of the best Disney princess movies, and for good reason. It’s a great story, with amazing songs and memorable characters. It’s the archetype of a classic Disney movie. 

Take now the 2017 remake of the film, featuring songs slathered in autotune which feel utterly hollow — as the worst pop covers tend to be. Celebrities comprise much of the cast, making the characters feel less unique and like more of a novelty. The CGI Beast and living household objects look off-putting rather than adorable. It also runs longer than the original, while adding nothing of substance that the original didn’t already have in spades. It’s a boring, empty slog of a movie, and you’re better off watching the original movie every time.

There are a few remakes (or similar types of movies, such as “Maleficent”) that are better than this and feel a bit more lively or unique, but, for the most part, these movies are just rehashes — visually bland and feebly attempting to offset their lack of originality with celebrity cameos and nostalgia bait. 

The “Avatar: The Last Airbender” live-action series was released on Netflix recently, and so far it has not been well-received. But I pose a question. Even if a live-action remake was supposedly good — even on par with the original — would that really be more interesting than a great, original film? 

There are so many movies and TV shows out there, and I think we, as avid fans of the art form or just casual viewers, owe it to ourselves to try out other options rather than just banking on what feels familiar every time. There is a reason why “The Lion King” remake made over a billion dollars: Some people clearly wanted to see a CGI version of a classic Disney film. But at the end of the day, Disney is a corporation that is happy to take advantage of the viewers’ nostalgia rather than spend the time to craft an original idea — not only is it less effort, there’s generally a bigger profit risk in creating new movies. And as long as we continue to fall for nostalgia bait and refuse to show interest in new ideas, these remakes will just keep being pumped out forever.



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