The Lion King, one of Disney’s crowning achievements is about to hit the big screen in its new live-action style remake form, and with Aladdin having set the box office on fire we give you five Disney animated films perfect for the live-action treatment.
In the pipelines is Mulan and Lady and the Tramp so they can’t be included and neither can The Little Mermaid or Lilo & Stitch, but all others are good game to be selected.
5) BROTHER BEAR (2003)
The story of Brother Bear is an interesting one: an Alaskan tribesman is turned into a bear after killing one out of revenge for his brother, to teach him the importance of life and love he is tasked by the Spirits to walk as a bear and there he meets a small cub – Koda.
Brother Bear would be a chance for Andy Serkis style performance capture work on the bears, with photorealistic special effects taking center stage as actors portray bears much like Serkis did in Mowgli. It’s also a story about man’s inhumanity to animals, a very important lesson in today’s climate, and about the native people of the US. Casting would need to be sensitive to the time and the people, but a big budget movie that follows Native people could be a big step forward for representation. There might need to be changes to the film to include more women roles as it’s a male centric one, but the story at it’s heart is moving and fun enough that it could be a big film.
Plus it features two Canadian moose who make jokes.
4) THE FOX AND THE HOUND (1981)
In a similar vein to Brother Bear, The Fox and the Hound could be done in a similar fashion to what is being done with Lady & the Tramp or The Jungle Book, mixing live action actors with state-of-the-art visual effects. The story follows a red fox cub – Tod – who is adopted into a farmer’s home when his mother dies, and his friendship with hound puppy Copper. As the rival farmers divulge into anger, nature begins to enclose and it becomes clear that Copper’s destiny is to hunt and kill Tod.
The story of fox hunting is very timely in the United Kingdom with many right wing types wanting to bring it back, and while the story might have moments that are a little too intense for the youngest of kids, the story about being who you are and not what others think you should be is one that children should always learn. The mixing of human actors with CGI animals might be a tough one, but Favreau proved it with The Jungle Book and if the voice cast is done right this could be a film for the ages.
3) TREASURE PLANET (2002)
A cyber-steam-punk mash up of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and mad post-Star Trek alien adventures sees Jim Hawkins go through the story of boy to man with monsters, pirates and robots. The basic outline of the story remains the same in the animated film as in the book but with both the advances in both prosthetics and performance capture there is no doubt that characters like Doppler, B.E.N., John Silver and Captain Amelia among others could easily be brought to life.
The adventure narrative could provide the push forwards for people who want a Star Wars void filled while we wait for new ones, and the chance to get a decent ensemble cast together for the film could potentially bring in big bucks at the box office. Timing would be everything, Treasure Planet is taking a well worn story and doing something different but it needs to come with nothing remotely close to it in competition. Jim Hawkins is the perfect role for someone like Tom Holland, while Brian Tyree Henry would smash the role of cyborg mentor-figure John Silver.
2) THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009)
Disney made a grab for nostalgia with this old style Princess story, hand drawn with good old fashioned show tunes. Set in Louisiana it follows Tiana a black waitress and aspiring chef who goes on an adventure when she kisses a frog who is actually a prince, and is turned into one herself. The film, like Brother Bear would require a lot of performance capture but the songs are solidly written and more could be added.
The leading roles of Tiana and Naveen are perfect POC roles for rising stars, unknowns or broadway types while juicy voice / performance capture roles could be given to characters actors looking to play Louis the trumpet playing Alligator and Ray the cajun Firefly, most importantly the role of villainous Dr Facilier is the kind of camp but evil turn that a seasoned movie star could turn in on a dime to add some credibility to the whole thing.
1. ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE (2001)
The cult following that has followed Atlantis is in no small part to it’s Mike Mignola-inspired animation style and incredible steampunk plot. A group of explorers, lead by the research of Smithsonian linguist Milo Thatch, and overseen by Commander Lyle T Rourke to find the lost empire of Atlantis. The romance between Milo and Atlantean princess Kida could be something of a break out role for whoever gets the coveted role of Kida, though racial sensitivity is a must, and the role of Milo needs to go to someone with a sort of Eddie Redmayne vibe, while the ensemble could be filled by more standard movie actors.
The design and adventure would be something people would want to see so practical sets with CGI touch ups would be the order of the day, and while the film might not have the fanbase to begin with, a huge family adventure movie could be just the sort of thing to bring in Christmas.