Come and see the movies being shown in your neighborhood Marcus Theaters and you will realize that many of the movies are from Walt Disney Pictures! Many, if not most, of the Disney films are also blockbusters worldwide, and we can cite The Avengers (2012), The Lion King (1994), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). We also have many film classics that Disney produced since the 1940s, such as Pinocchio (1940), Sleeping Beauty (1959), and The Jungle Book (1967), which Disney has also re-released and re-imagined in subsequent years.
But what makes Disney such a consistent hitmaker where other studios have stumbled? Let’s take a look at the reasons and, in the process, understand its enduring universal appeal.
Even the special effects-heavy movies, such as the hugely successful Marvel franchise, have made and continue to make famous actors more famous, as well as add the human touch to superheroes and aliens alike. Look at Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast, too, and you will agree that her riveting performance made the film enchanting to modern viewers.
In the age of special effects, movie stars as we know them may be becoming secondary to film. But Disney isn’t on that track and we can understand why – like it or not, the human element including human actors is still at the heart of every film ever made and will be made! Humans use films to connect and communicated with other humans so it makes sense.
The bottom line: Say what you want about human actors but they are still and will always be a key part of flicks! Disney knows it and takes full advantage of it through near-perfect casting. We’re waiting for the live-action version of Mulan and the sequel of Maleficent partly for this reason.
Disney may tap into fairy tales where damsels in distress abound but it turned these classic stories on their heads. Instead of submissive female characters waiting for Prince Charming to come rescue them, Disney’s female leads were strong, sassy and smart, even sexy! These aren’t women waiting for rescue but doing the rescue themselves, often not of themselves but of others – Princess Anna and Queen Elsa save their kingdom through true love in Frozen; Meg rescues her father in A Wrinkle in Time; and Mulan saves the empire in Mulan.
Yes, there are still the traditional Disney princesses that still need a bit of rescuing, such as Cinderella, but Disney has made sure that many more of its female characters are kickass heroes. We loved Moana for her determination, Judy Hopps for her cleverness, and Merida for her bravery!
Disney has even turned Maleficent, the wicked stepmother in the tale of Princess Aurora, Sleeping Beauty, on its head. In Maleficent, for example, the titular character proved that true love doesn’t have to between a man and a woman –it can also be between a mother and her adopted child.
Who would have thought that the wicked have a story of their own? Disney did and it worked!
Even its superhero movies, notably the Marvel franchise, even feature strong female characters who won’t be doormats for their male counterparts. The Black Widow is a formidable warrior, as is the case for Pepper Potts and Agent Carter in their own right.
And speaking of superhero movies, the Marvel franchise is among the most popular and profitable franchises today because Disney knows its stuff! There all the elements of a blockbuster in every Marvel movie, from the famous stars with their drool-envy physique to the human elements in the story. The CGI action also doesn’t take away from the story but adds layers to it.
Great Live-Action Remakes
Disney’s early movies – and enduring classics, if you ask us – were animated movies. But through the years, it has also released live-action remakes that resonated with the worldwide audience, too, even when these are heavy on the fairy tales.
Take, for example, Beauty and the Beast (2017), a remake of the classic that went on to rack $1.26 billion in ticket sales. In 2019, Disney also released more than a few live-action remakes – Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King. All three of these films were blockbusters, a tradition continued since these titles were first released as animated films.
But Disney doesn’t just stop with live-action remakes of beloved tales! It’s also known for its excellent sequels to animated stories, and we can cite the Toy Story series as the best example.
There’s been talk that the first three Toy Story movies were already perfect on their own and, thus, there was little to no need to add a fourth movie. After all, why ruin a beloved trilogy or risk a failure with the fourth film? Judging from the huge success of Toy Story 4, Disney definitely made the right move.