Disney and Enchanting the Film Industry


Courtesy of shanghaidisneyresort.com

Nick Felides, Staff Writer

From the forests of Germany to the desolate lands of Tatooine, Disney has come a very long way from a small screen in Walt Disney’s office, to the household of almost every person in the country.

Walt Disney started from small beginnings, producing short films with his brother Roy Disney. Disney had his big break in 1944, when Snow White and the Seven Dwarves hit theaters. After that, everything changed: Animation changed, storytelling changed, Walt Disney changed the film industry. He kept his streak of fantastical movies going until his passing in 1966, but even after that, his legacy still lives on in later Disney films. Not even Walt Disney himself would have predicted where his blueprint for enchantment has gone.

Nobody would have expected Marvel to be a branch of Disney back in 2009, but it happened. Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment for around four billion dollars. And 10 years later, Marvel Studios has become one of, if not, the biggest franchises of all time. With Robert Downey Jr. as the poster boy for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney had a hand in making comic book movies relevant again. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, was able to make Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor household names. After their massive success in both TV and film, Marvel Studios is getting even more films and TV shows on their plate, with over five movies and even more TV shows coming out in the next three years.  

Following the deal with Marvel, Disney zeroed in on the all-mighty Star Wars, the previous biggest franchise in the history of cinema. They bought out the films’s rights to the ever-expanding galaxy far, far away for over four billion dollars. Since then, Disney has produced four Star Wars movies, one of which, “Star Wars the Force Awakens” is on the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time. Disney has gone as far as adding a whole new area to Disney World, now known as Galaxy’s Edge, where visitors can get a first hand experience of what it’s like to be in Star Wars. Being able to board the Millenium Falcon was something nobody in 1983 would expect to do, but Disney made it possible.

 After buying two of the biggest franchises in cinema, Disney bought out one of its biggest competitors. 20th Century Fox, home to multiple big name movie franchises such as “Alien”, “Predator”, “The Simpsons”, and multiple animated films. Disney acquired Fox for 71.3 billion dollars beating out Comcast, who was originally planning on buying the massive corporation. 

While this is beneficial for a lot of movie fans, witnessing the Fantastic Four and the X-Men finally return to Marvel Studios, over 10,000 Fox employees have lost their job during the merger.

After seeing Netflix make over half a billion dollars through their streaming service, Disney intends to replicate that same magic with their new streaming service: Disney+. It will be every user’s one-stop shop for everything Disney. Whether it be on another planet in the galaxy of Star Wars or on earth in New York City, in Avengers Tower, Disney+ will launch with over a thousand new and old titles.

The platform plans on bringing in a plethora of all new content, including original Disney movies and TV shows such as, “The World According to Jeff Goldblum”, “Encore!”, and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”. Later next year, the platform will also stream several Marvel titles such as, Falcon and Winter Soldier, starring Captain America’s best pal Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan, and faithful sidekick, Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie. 

Earlier this month, Disney announced even more original titles, including trailers, at the “D23” Expo. They showcased trailers for new content like “The Mandalarian, Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow”, and “Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker”. Fans were also blown away by multiple announcements for future Star Wars and Marvel content. Surprising everybody with an onstage appearance, Ewan McGregor, would announce that he would be reprising his role as Obi Wan Kenobi in a spin-off series titled Kenobi. 

Along with dominating the movie industry, Disney is setting its sights on the TV industry.

Over the past decade, Disney has made its mark in several ways, having the biggest presence in film. Of the 10 highest-grossing films of all time, according to Box Office Mojo, six of them are Disney/Marvel Studios films. The most notable, at the moment, being the live-action remake of “Lion King”. Even before Lion King’s massive success at the box office, Disney was already planning on multiple live-action adaptations, attempting to copy that trademark Disney magic. 

Films like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Lady and the Tramp”, “Mulan” and “Peter Pan” will all receive live-action remakes.

All of this begs a larger question: is it working? The short answer is yes, Disney has already made over a billion dollars just from their previous remakes. But are they able to translate that special magic that they were able to do more than two decades ago?

It all comes down to the viewer, since film is subjective. But, there has been a very vocal group of people that don’t appreciate Disney producing these live-remakes for a quick cash grab. For example, many argue that everything that was captivating and enchanting from the original Lion King was all torn away from this live action adaptation. One of the defining characteristics of the original Lion King was its breathtaking scenery. The opening shot alone, is otherworldly with a wide array of colors. Not only that, but all of the definition of characters’ facial expressions would be stripped away in order to maintain the realism that Disney is trying to achieve. 

Regardless of whether or not Disney is upholding creative integrity, they’re still making massive amounts of money and they won’t be stopping anytime soon. Disney has become the biggest entertainment company in all of film. They’ve purchased a lot of their competition, and who knows what they’ll buy next. No matter what they produce and come out with, there will always be people that consume it. Will our future entertainment be dominated by Disney? Only time will tell.