As part of its on-going quest to devalue every happy cinematic memory from our childhoods, Disney is looking to turn its animated classic Dumbo into a live-action affair with the help of (wait for it) Transformers franchise writer Ehren Kruger. Because everyone knows that, when you want to make a movie about a kindly elephant with over-sized elephants, there’s no one better than the guy who gave us such gems as “There’s a missile in the living room,” “Prime’s taken my trophy case, and he will feel my wrath,” and my personal favorite, “Autobots, we’re going to prove who we are, and why we’re here” (and that’s just from Age of Extinction).
Justin Springer, who worked on Oblivion and Tron: Legacy, will be producing along with Kruger. Their version will adapt the original movie while “adding a unique family story that parallels Dumbo’s story.” Disney also wants to make use of extensive CG effects to depict Dumbo’s flight. Hopefully they’ll leave out the racist caricature crows and drunken hallucinations that seem more indicative of a horrific acid trip than anything else. Though, given that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had moments of racism as well, I’m not holding my breath.
Of course, we have no one to blame for this latest assault on our childhood but ourselves. Disney has found colossal box office success in wheeling out animated classics as live-action blockbusters over the past few years, none more than the Tim Burton-helmed Alice in Wonderland, which grossed over $1 billion. This year’s Maleficent has also been highly successful, taking in more than $630 million worldwide.
Perhaps audiences will tire of these reinterpretations before Dumbo hits – Disney already has Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, a Beauty and the Beast adaptation with Emma Watson, and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book in the pipeline. But something tells me that audience appetite for the genre will remain unfortunately healthy for a long time to come. So let’s just hope Dumbo can overcome our early trepidation and prove to be something other than a pointless rehash (not that it being awful will have any impact on its earnings whatsoever).