It’s the Circle of Life

Disney’s revamped The Lion King opens today. I normally try to focus on entertainment properties that AT&T owns, since Solid Signal is an AT&T dealer. But this is kind of a big one. Disney is in a mad rush to remake all its classic animated films to look more photorealistic. Note that I didn’t say “Live Action.” This new version’s every bit as animated as the old one. It just doesn’t look it.

All hail Queen Bey

While I’m still not sure this film needed to be made, I think that in most cases, Disney nailed the casting. Replacing James Earl Jones would have been practically impossible, so they didn’t. He’s reprising his role as Mufasa. The rest of the cast is new, and I think they’re great additions. Sure, I miss Nathan Lane and the extraordinary oiliness of Jeremy Irons. But let’s be honest here. Who else could possibly play the Queen of the African plains but Beyoncé? Disney’s released a series of images with the actors and their CGI counterparts, just to prove how perfect the casting is.

My my but a picture does certainly count for a thousand words there.

io9 has the full gallery here. 

But seriously, is Disney being smart?

Disney goes through periods of extreme originality, and let’s be honest this isn’t one of them. Between Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, they are incredibly engaged in reheating every bit of older content they’ve ever has. Don’t get me wrong here because I like a good Star Wars film as much as the next fellow. There just has to come a point where nostalgia stops and people actually begin to take in new forms of entertainment. Right now Disney is counting on parents to pass along their love of older properties to their kids. Eventually that chain is going to break.

I guess we’ll find out how far the nostalgia trail goes when Disney+ launches its streaming service this fall. I’ve been grousing about Disney+ since it was first announced two years ago. The price at launch looks to be a fairly reasonable $6.99 a month and that takes a little of the pressure off. However, I do suspect that Disney will creep the price up as kids become addicted to it. I think that might be a mistake. Disney+ is designed to take advantage of the companies rich heritage. You’ll see all your old favorites there, and new series that build on old franchises. But so far we’ve yet to hear of any truly new content on Disney+. At some point they have to start looking forward and not backward.

That’s when we’ll find out what Disney’s true worth is. When they stop retreading the successes of the past and start building new memories for a new generation, they’ll prove — or disprove — everything I’ve said about them. But I suppose that won’t happen until they’ve done the CGI version of The Aristocats, or a complete reimagining of The Black Hole. If you’re not familiar with either film, don’t fret. They were two of Disney’s big whiffs and if the company gets around to remaking them, you’ll know they’ve just plain run out of ideas.