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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Disney bottoms out on creativity

    Disney has some explaining to do. Recently recognized by Fortune as the largest media conglomerate in the world, with puppet strings extending as far as theme parks in China and television holdings in A&E and ESPN, the Walt Disney Company is credited for conceiving the films we grew up with (and the memories they inspired). Now it has committed the ultimate party foul of fame: It sold out, big time.

    Disney’s latest creative transgression came with the success of “The Lion King” in 3D last September, grossing $30.2 million in its opening weekend, according to CNN. Its success caused Disney to also re-release “Beauty and the Beast” on Jan. 13 to $18.5 million in its opening weekend. “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “The Little Mermaid” will follow suit within the next two years, with nothing new to bring to the table except supposedly superior visuals.

    There was a time when almost every Disney release seemed fresh and new, able to ignite imaginations long after the last (original) song played and the credits rolled. I can still say with confidence that my best birthday was spent seeing “Mulan” in theaters. Who knows if that’s vaguely pathetic or if the movie really was just that life-changing, but I miss the days when films weren’t flaunted for their usage of the latest technological gimmick or the contributing voices of big-name stars, but were intended to entertain and pique the interests of children.

    It seems ironic that Disney is able to capitalize on new generations with the same old material with much of the original audience of these films either young adults looking for a nostalgic foray into their childhood or young parents who, understandably, want to expose their children to the same movies they knew and loved at their age.

    All hype aside, digging out an old DVD (or VHS, if you’re feeling especially sentimental) at home will provoke an equally satisfying trip down memory lane, guaranteed.

    Of course, Disney isn’t the only culprit guilty of cinematic regurgitation. This year we’ll see releases of two separate films based on “Snow White” (“Mirror, Mirror” with Julia Roberts and “Snow White and the Huntsman,” starring Kristen Stewart), “Madagascar 3,” “Ice Age 4”, and another poorly adapted Dr. Seuss book (“The Lorax”) to name a few. Even if sequels tend to undermine the critical reputation of even the most respected studios, like “Cars 2” did to Pixar last summer, they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

    With hundreds of writers living in Hollywood desperately trying to push their scripts, it seems like studios could do better than attempt to inject new life into stale characters and tired storylines. This especially stands true for children’s films, which really only need a mildly intriguing plot, punctuated by a solid balance of humor and heart, to truly succeed. After all, “Beauty and the Beast” wasn’t nominated for Best Picture its first time around because of how realistic the clock looked while talking to the candle. It used the resources it had at the time and relied on Disney’s (former) high standards of artistry and charm to draw families to the theater.

    In an annual financial report from 2011, Disney President and CEO Robert Iger thanked the 3D release of “The Lion King” for “remind(ing) us of the magic of Disney storytelling.” So, on behalf of the kids, go ahead and keep the magic, as long as you work a little harder on preserving your creative dignity.

    — Kate Newton is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatArts.

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