‘Dumbo’ kicks off slate of Disney remakes ahead of Disney+ launch

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Fans of “Dumbo” will notice that the new film’s plot strays a bit from the original feature. As Disney has adapted these classic animated films into live-action features, it has not been uncommon for them to update the script to reflect modern storytelling and to expand the scope of the world in which the film is set. Not to mention, the original “Dumbo” was only 63 minutes long, while the new iteration clocks in at over two hours.

In some cases, Disney has even turned the narrative on its head, as was the case with 2014’s “Maleficent.”

Disney’s ticket sales have been bolstered by this series of live-action remakes. In the last decade, the company has released six — “Alice in Wonderland,” “Maleficent,” “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

Disney made more than $4.85 billion worldwide from these releases, according to ComScore data.

This success has led Disney to produce four live-action films due for release this year. “Dumbo” will be the first in March, followed by “Aladdin” in May, “The Lion King” in July and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” in October.

The sequel to “Maleficent” was initially slated for release in 2020, but was moved to this year. Some analysts have speculated that by moving the film release earlier, Disney would be able to add “Maleficent 2” to its upcoming streaming service Disney+ once its theatrical run is completed.

“I have a theory, and it may or may not be right, but I think [Disney] is loading up the schedule this year to — and this is pure speculation — in anticipation of the launch of the Disney streaming channel so that they will have a significant source of product when they are coming into it next year,” Doug Stone, president of Box Office Analyst, said in an interview. “That may be the reason behind it. It seems to make the most sense.”

Disney+ is due to be released before the end of 2019. With theatrical runs typically lasting around 90 days, “Maleficent 2” could find a home on the platform by January 2020, bolstering Disney’s catalog of films available to be added to the service.

“There’s no question it would be a good move,” Robbins said.

Disney has been tight lipped about its new streaming service, revealing few details about when movies and television shows will be brought to the platform. Iger has said that the company will go into its vault to bring classic animated films to the service.

With “Maleficent 2’s” release date moved, “Mulan” is currently the only Disney live-action remake with a release date in 2020. However, that doesn’t mean Disney doesn’t have plans for more of these films.

The company currently has more than a dozen titles in the works, some sequels, some straight-up remakes and some from the perspective of another character.

  • “Chernabog”
  • “Cruella”
  • “Genie”
  • “Hunchback of Notre Dame”
  • “James and the Giant Peach”
  • “Lady and the Tramp”
  • “Lilo and Stitch”
  • “Peter Pan”
  • “Pinocchio”
  • “Prince Charming”
  • “Rose Red”
  • “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
  • “The Jungle Book 2”
  • “The Little Mermaid”
  • “The Sword in the Stone
  • “Tink”

Disclosure: NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, owns Dreamworks and distributed “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

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