In 2014, Walt Disney Pictures released Maleficent, a live-action reimagining of their classic animated film Sleeping Beauty. It was a Perspective Flip Alternate Universe take on the story. Maleficent isn't the evil fairy witch she is in the original, as instead she is a troubled, introverted fairy who was spurned into hating humans by a bad experience one year before Princess Aurora is born. Aurora, whose rather Flat Character was replaced with something more in-depth, grew up believing Maleficent was her Fairy Godmother, as much as Maleficent tried to become her enemy. The film's interesting new take on Sleeping Beauty's characters ended in it becoming one of the biggest hits of the year.
With that success, it was unsurprising that Disney tried doing a Live-Action Adaptation again. Cinderella (2015) is a remake of Cinderella. Unlike Maleficent, it stays true-to-the-text for the most part and is still from the POV of Cinderella. However, the Cinderella remake adds new details and character elements to the story. It also used a few long-held fan ideas, such as how "Cinderella" is a nickname for "Ella" (or "Elizabeth"/Elisabeth/etc). The remake ended up selling well, and as a result Disney decided to create more remakes of various animated films of theirs.
Most of the films are Self-Adaptation reimaginings of the Disney Animated Canon originals. They might take inspiration from other adaptations, the original source, or even fan-ideas (for example, "Adam"note as the Beast's name was rarely officially used until the remake of Beauty and the Beast), however they overall take note from the original Disney animated films. Some elements that were scrapped in the original films development are known to be in the remakes. The remakes are not, however, shot-for-shot remakes of the original films. They are more historically accurate than the originals, which means slight differences in designs and other elements, and feature personality changes, name changes, Adaptation Expansion, and even completely new characters.
The Lion King (2019) is also technically not a live-action remake due to the absence of onscreen humans like the original, but still has everything else in common with the current line, hence its inclusion in it. Christopher Robin is also technically not a remake, rather a sequel to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, but it is a live-action film with CGI based on an earlier Disney property that shares the same aesthetics as the others.
- Mulan (2020)
- Cruella (2020)
- The Little Mermaid (TBA)
- Pinocchio (TBA)
- Peter Pan (TBA)
- Tink (TBA)
- Snow White (TBA)
- Lilo & Stitch (TBA)
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (TBA)
- Hercules (TBA)
- The Sword in the Stone (TBA)
- Chronicles of Prydain (TBA) note
- The 1996 remake of 101 Dalmatians and its sequel, 102 Dalmatians.
- 2010's Alice in Wonderland is, per Word of God, completely unrelated to the Disney classic despite being a live-action adaptation done by Disney. note
- The television series Once Upon a Time is also not a part of this franchise, even though it features various reimaginings of Disney characters in live-action form. note
- Disney had made a direct-to-video Live-Action Jungle Book called The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story, that fits a good number of these trappings, as well as Gepetto, a Made-for-TV Movie that is adapted from Pinocchio.
- They had also distributed live-action films based off of The Wind in the Willows (labeled Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) & The Jungle Book by other companies, that were largely unrelated to the Disney films, as well as produced a Made-for-TV Movie based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella.
- The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is the first major Disney work to adapt the story of The Nutcracker, thus it isn't part of the line, although it still has much in common with many of the line's remakes in tone and aesthetics. note
- An upcoming comedy film called Prince Charming is in production by Disney. It is about a Prince Charmless pretending to be his brother (who's a Prince Charming) after several princesses attack Charming for two-timing them (poking fun at Disney having more than one "Prince Charming"), however it's not considered a part of the franchise either.
- Fox Searchlight Pictures produced a Peter Pan-inspired film centering on Wendy Darling, titled Wendy, and Disney inherited it after absorbing Fox. It is scheduled for release on February 28, 2020, and is based on the book rather than the Disney version of Peter Pan (which already has a live-action version in development) and therefore is not part of the line.
Tropes common to the Disney Live-Action Remakes:
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: It's commonplace for characters' traumas, or reactions to the trauma, to be enhanced.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Notably concerning the villains. Angelina Jolie is sure an embellished Maleficent (especially in her youth), and Cate Blanchett in Cinderella (2015), Josh Gad in Beauty and the Beast (2017) or Marwan Kenzari in Aladdin are much more attractive (sometimes, younger) versions of Lady Tremaine, Lefou and Jafar.
- Adaptation Name Change: At least one character per adaptation has their name edited.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Bad or neutral guys often do a HeelFace Turn, or turn out to be good from the start. The title character in Maleficent turned out to be the real heroine, but also Lefou turned his back on Gaston at the end of Beauty and the Beast. The Ringmaster aka Max Medici also Took a Level in Kindness, as V. A. Vandevere turned out to be even worse in Dumbo.
- Adaptational Villainy: In contrast to the above, this happens to Aurora's father in Maleficent and the Duke in Cinderella (2015).
- Ascended Extra: One human character tend to get more screentime in many of the remakes. There was the ringmaster in Dumbo, Aurora and Diaval (a renamed Diablo) in Maleficent, and the Enchantress in Beauty and the Beast (2017).
- Canon Foreigner: Several new characters were added, such as the Captain in Cinderella and Prince Anders in Aladdin.
- Costume Porn: The live action media allow to do more sophisticated costumes (in terms of material and pattern), especially for females characters. In contrast with the two or three outfits they had in the original, most of the time, they have an Unlimited Wardrobe in the remakes.
- Darker and Edgier: The films tend to make the original films more realistic and historically accurate, to varying degrees and mainly from an aesthetic viewpoint. They also have darker colours and feature some darker themes than their animated counterparts.
- Demoted to Extra: Animals sidekicks tends to fall under this, as they lost their voice with the change of medium.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Maleficent started the trend of live-action remakes but it's not a remake. It's a Perspective Flip and is loose with its canon (most noticeable in Maleficent's character change and how the ending is completely different from Sleeping Beauty's) to the point of Alternate Continuity. Although, Cruella indicates that more films will take the Perspective Flip approach, so the weirdness might not apply anymore.
- Even before Maleficent, there was Alice in Wonderland (2010), which isn't a remake either, but a sequel, and supposedly a sequel to the original book (although like Maleficent, it plays fast and loose with its canon), not the Disney version.
- If you consider 1996's 101 Dalmatians to be the unofficial start of the franchise, then it's very different from the live-action remakes that followed. In contrast to the current Darker and Edgier approach, it goes in the complete opposite direction and plays the story for broad slapstick. It has often been said that the live-action 101 Dalmatians is, ironically, more cartoonish than the actual cartoon version, despite the fact that the dogs don't talk.
- Live-Action Adaptation: These movies are live-action remakes (or reinterpretations) of animated films.
- Lost in Imitation: The films naturally stick closer to the animated versions Disney made of fairy tales and novels than they do to said fairy tales and novels.
- Named by the Adaptation: Characters who weren't named in the animated originals, such as the Beast and Cinderella's Prince Charming, are given names in the remakes.
- Perspective Flip: The Maleficent films and Cruella tell stories based on the Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians worlds respectively, but from the perspective of the villains.
- Politically Correct History: Several of the instance of Race Lift described below result in curiosities such as locations having a noticeable POC population during a time where there was none (Beauty and the Beast (2017)) or depicting relationships between people of different racial backgrounds when they were highly improbable (Lady and the Tramp (2019)).
- Race Lift:
- Plumette and Madame de Garderobe in Beauty and the Beast (2017) are played by black actresses, while town inhabitants are more ethnically diverse.
- In Aladdin, the Arab Prince Achmed became the European Prince Anders. And while the Genie appeared as white when he was masquerading as an human (with visibly lighter skin tone than the Arab citizens of Agrabah), he is played by Will Smith in the remake.
- In Lady and the Tramp, the white Darling became bi-racial as played by Kiersey Clemons.
- The Little Mermaid: Ariel, who looked like a European woman originally, is set to be played by an African-American actress.
- Scenery Porn: A lot of efforts are usually put into the look of the settings, which are more detailed than they were in the animated versions.