It’s only been a few days since Bob Iger has eased back into his former captain’s chair as the former and now new (and perhaps improved) CEO of Disney and it’s safe to say he found a full plate of tasks waiting on his new/old desk. But he’s already made one major change to the company’s command structure. And that could spell big dividends for Disney fans as well as shareholders.
Iger has dismissed one of former CEO Bob Chapek’s lieutenants, Kareem Daniel, who formerly held the reins on Disney’s multiple creative projects. This will effectively put control back in the hands of the creatives meaning that Disney studios may be on the edge of a new renaissance — if it plays its cards right.
And though Disney is likely to keep making price-saving adaptations of their older animated properties, here are eight ideas for adaptations that may be just as fresh as their cartoon source materials.
The live-action Hercules film has been in the pipeline since April 2020 and still seems to be happening with a script by David Callaham and The Russo Brothers helming the project but, frankly, Disney’s live-action remakes could really use a little lightning in a bottle. Though generally reliable moneymakers (and sourcing your own material is an admitted plus when it comes to saving money) fan reactions to the last few remakes have rated B minus scores at bests from audiences and critics.
Hopefully the addition of the Russos — Disney’s most successful MCU directing team — will bring some out-of-the-envelope magic back to the live-action films. Especially if a great cast is assembled to bring it to life (put us enthusiastically in the pro Danny Devito as Phil camp).
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Disney’s SOP where live action is concerned is to make it all about its past hits. Atlantis: The Lost Empire seemed like a misfire for the studio back in 2001, a fact blamed on competition from Shrek in the same year and the film’s abandonment of its tried and true formula of fairy tale adaptation. But the film has gained a cult following over the last two decades and with its millennial audience having kids of their own the iron may be hot for a live-action remake of one of Disney’s wholly original IPs. Throw in a draw like Andrew Garfield as protagonist Milo Thatch and the studio may find a whole new lease on a potential franchise.
While Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of pirate treasure has been adapted a staggering number of times there’s no argument that a live-action adaptation of this bonafide science fiction version of the tale would look and feel like no live-action reboot that the studio has done yet. And While Joseph Gordon-Levitt is too old to reprise his old role as Jim Hawkins he’d make a fine Dr. Delbert Doppler. And maybe Brendan Gleeson as Long John?
“One thousand years ago, superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear. It was the age of gargoyles. Stone by day, warriors by night, We were betrayed … by executive oversight?” We’ve discussed it at length here at WGTC but if Disney is sleeping on anything it’s rebooting this beloved series in one form or another (even a new animated series would be nice). Disney has already proven it can do live-action fantasy as well as heroic team movies. Why not combine those strengths in a live-action update of one of its best TV franchises?
It doesn’t have to use this exact title (princesses would due as well) but a legitimate Disney romance about two princes who fall in love has long been a longtime dream of the LGBTQ+ Disney-loving community. If Iger is looking to once and for all prove that Disney supports the community and is willing to go there in its storytelling this is the no holds barred way to go about it.
Though Disney’s Pocahontas proved to be a success at the box office it hasn’t exactly aged as well as its other Disney Renaissance contemporaries — not to mention the optics of Mel Gibson playing the love interest now. Just yikes. The film was certainly a better portrayal of indigenous people compared to most movies prior to 1995 but taking the opportunity to tell the real and heartbreaking story of the actual woman would be a welcomed redressing.
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Disney has a proposed remake of 1995’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame up on the boards with legendary playwright David Henry Hwang penning the screenplay and Josh Gad producing. And while the 1939 film version featuring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo will probably remain the definitive live version no matter what, the right musical elements could make this adaptation stand out, especially if Hwang embraces some of the more tragic elements of the source material.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
It may seem like the most unlikely addition to this list (it’s hard to remake what so many consider to be the perfect Halloween family holiday film) but hear us out. Nightmare concert events have been selling out the Hollywood Bowl for years now. A live-to-film concert at the OVO Arena Wembley in London on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 will feature both the film’s composer Danny Elfman reprising his role as Jack Skellington as well as Ken Page as Oogie Boogie. Iger might do well to pick up some synergy with a live-action-ish remake featuring both practical and CGI effects.