Disney Movie Remakes and Reboots – Comparing the Live-Action Versions to the Originals

Last Updated on: March 21st, 2024

Disney’s journey into remaking its classics began in earnest with “101 Dalmatians” in 1996, but it was the 21st century that saw a significant uptick in such projects. Major titles include “Alice in Wonderland” (2010), “Cinderella” (2015), “The Jungle Book” (2016), “Beauty and the Beast” (2017), “Aladdin” (2019), “The Lion King” (2019), and “Mulan” (2020). These films sought to bring beloved stories to a new generation, employing advanced technology and often a more contemporary approach to storytelling.

Disney Movie Remakes and Reboots

The Lion King (2019)

Box Office Success: Numbers Speak

In terms of box office performance, many of these remakes were unqualified successes. “The Lion King” (2019) and “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) grossed over $1 billion worldwide, showcasing the immense drawing power of these familiar tales. “Aladdin” and “The Jungle Book” also enjoyed significant financial success, indicating a strong audience appetite for these nostalgic yet refreshed stories.

As you can see from the data below, aside from the three movies that were released directly to Disney+ and Mulan, each of the live remakes performed significantly better than their predecessors at the box office. While there is a segment of diehard Disney fans that frown upon the remakes, this table shows why the company continues to release them.

Live-Action Disney Movies Versus Original Animated (Box Office Results)

Remake Year Released Box Office Original Year Released Box Office
101 Dalmatians 1996 $320.7 million One Hundred and One Dalmatians 1961 $303 million
Alice in Wonderland 2010 $1.025 billion Alice in Wonderland 1951 $5.9 million
Cinderella 2015 $540.5 million Cinderella 1950 $182 million
The Jungle Book 2016 $967 million The Jungle Book 1967 $378 million
Beauty and the Beast 2017 $1.266 billion Beauty and the Beast 1991 $424 million
Dumbo 2019 $353.3 million Dumbo 1941 $1.3 million
Aladdin 2019 $1.054 billion Aladdin 1992 $504.1 million
The Lion King 2019 $1.663 billion The Lion King 1994 $968.4 million
Lady and the Tramp 2019 NA/Streaming Lady and the Tramp 1955 $187 million
Mulan 2020 $69.9 million Mulan 1998 $304.3 million
Pinocchio 2022 NA/Streaming Pinocchio 1940 $121.9 million
Peter Pan & Wendy 2023 NA/Streaming Peter Pan 1953 $87.4 million
The Little Mermaid 2023 $569.6 million The Little Mermaid 1989 $235 million
Disney Movie Remakes and Reboots 1

The Jungle Book (2016)

Critical Reception: A Mixed Bag

Critically, the reception of these remakes has been mixed. “The Jungle Book” received widespread acclaim for its groundbreaking visual effects and faithful yet innovative adaptation of the original story. “Cinderella” was praised for its charm and visual splendor. However, films like “The Lion King” and “Mulan” faced criticism for lacking the emotional depth or charm of the originals. “The Lion King,” in particular, was seen by some as a technical marvel but emotionally flat compared to the 1994 animated classic.

While we saw in the previous section, that Disney live-action remakes performed significantly better than their original versions at the box office, as you can see from the data below, they almost unanimously performed well under their predecessors in terms of critical reception with the only exception being the previously mentioned The Jungle Book live adaptation.

Live-Action Disney Movies Versus Original Animated (Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Score):

Remake Year Released Tomatometer Score Original Year Released Tomatometer Score
101 Dalmatians 1996 39% One Hundred and One Dalmatians 1961 98%
Alice in Wonderland 2010 51% Alice in Wonderland 1951 84%
Cinderella 2015 84% Cinderella 1950 98%
The Jungle Book 2016 94% The Jungle Book 1967 88%
Beauty and the Beast 2017 71% Beauty and the Beast 1991 93%
Dumbo 2019 46% Dumbo 1941 95%
Aladdin 2019 57% Aladdin 1992 95%
The Lion King 2019 52% The Lion King 1994 93%
Lady and the Tramp 2019 67% Lady and the Tramp 1955 93%
Mulan 2020 72% Mulan 1998 86%
Pinocchio 2022 28% Pinocchio 1940 100%
Peter Pan & Wendy 2023 64% Peter Pan 1953 78%
The Little Mermaid 2023 67% The Little Mermaid 1989 91%

Cultural Impact and Audience Reception

Culturally, these films have reignited interest in the original Disney classics, introducing these stories to a new generation. However, they have also sparked debates about the necessity and creative integrity of remakes. While some audiences relished the opportunity to see updated versions of their favorite films, others questioned whether these remakes offered anything new or substantial beyond technological advancements.

Nostalgia Versus Innovation

A key aspect of these films’ success seems to be rooted in nostalgia. For many viewers, these movies evoke memories of childhood and a simpler time. This nostalgia, however, is a double-edged sword. While it draws audiences to theaters, it also sets a high bar for comparison. The remakes that succeeded in adding something new to the story, whether through updated cultural contexts, as seen in “Aladdin,” or through technological marvels, as in “The Jungle Book,” were generally better received.

The Future of Disney Remakes

Disney’s remake strategy appears to be an ongoing endeavor, with plans for more remakes in the pipeline. The challenge for Disney will be to balance the nostalgia of the originals with the need for innovation and relevance to contemporary audiences.

Upcoming or Rumored Live-Action Disney Movie Remakes:

Remake Year Released Box Office Original Year Released Box Office
Snow White 2025 NA Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937 $418 million
Moana 2025 NA Moana 2016 $682.6 million
Lilo & Stitch TBA NA Lilo & Stitch 2002 $273.1 million
Hercules TBA NA Hercules 1997 $252.7 million
Bambi TBA NA Bambi 1942 $267.4 million
The Sword in the Stone TBA NA The Sword in the Stone 1963 $22.2 million
Robin Hood TBA NA Robin Hood 1973 $33 million
The Aristocats TBA NA The Aristocats 1970 $191 million
Disney Movie Remakes and Reboots 2

Snow White (2025)

Disney’s foray into remaking its classic films has been a lucrative venture, though not without its critical ups and downs. While some remakes have been praised for bringing a fresh perspective to beloved stories, others have been criticized for lacking the soul and charm of the originals. The success of these films, therefore, seems to hinge not just on the power of nostalgia but also on their ability to offer something new and meaningful to both old and new audiences alike.

Disney’s strategy of reimagining its classics demonstrates a keen awareness of the potential in its vast library of beloved stories. As the company continues down this path, it will be interesting to see how it navigates the delicate balance between honoring the legacy of the original films and reinterpreting them for a new era. The enduring power of Disney’s storytelling is evident, but the future success of its remakes will depend on their ability to resonate with a diverse and ever-evolving audience.

Note: A full rundown of upcoming Disney movies & release dates can be found here.

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of DisneyNews.us. My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other sites include DMR and VideoGamesStats.com.