Via Rotten Tomatoes: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs.
“Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle.
Disney remaking it’s classic animated movies as CGI’d live action isn’t anything new. A new spin on existing intellectual property has been Disney’s strategy for the last few years. Already on the slate for live action treatment is Tim Burton’s take on Dumbo and The Lion King which just picked up Donald Glover as Simba and James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa.
Beauty and the Beast serves a dual purpose to this piece of the Disney puzzle:
- continuing Disney’s established trend of live action rebooting their vault and
- the comic book movie-ization of their most legendary characters.
In thinking about this strategy, I am reminded of one of the laws of improv comedy – Freedom, Power, and Responsibility. For an improv scene to make sense, the actors on stage have to agree on the world in which they are creating. They have the freedom to create the world of the scene, the power to dictate the stakes, and the responsibility to make it matter for the audience. If at any moment the actors punt on one of those laws, the scene fails.
While nothing about Beauty and the Beast is improvised – I’d wager a guess that every aspect of a $160 million movie gets meticulously planned – it is the ‘Power’ role in my improv analogy.
Efforts like Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book were Freedom – they were big bets by Disney to see if audiences would respond to a live action retelling of classic animated movies more than likely already sitting on the DVD shelves or On-Demand video libraries of their customers. If audiences respond favorably to Beauty and the Beast – spoiler alert: they will – both Hollywood and moviegoers have agreed that this is what we can expect from Disney for the next few years. Disney then assumes the Responsibility to continue this trend of combining A-list talent, with big budget special effects, and modern day updates to their most popular stories.
It’s the same exact approach that has made the Marvel movies so successful. Remind audiences that they love Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor (the Sleeping Beauty mythology, Cinderella, and Beauty and The Beast) and introduce them to some of the deeper cuts (Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, and the forthcoming Captain Marvel). Freedom + Power + Responsibility = Trust. Everybody wins.
Beauty and The Beast opens this weekend, and if I were to guess, it’s going to smash to bits the box office receipts of Logan, Get Out, and Kong. You can’t stop the Disney machine; you can only hope to contain it.