When thinking of Disney, it’s hard not to quote from the music of Peter Pan: “Think of the happiest thing/ it’s the same as having wings.” Living the #DisneyLife keeps us sane in a world filled with controversy. Disney reminds us of our happy place and if you aren’t fortunate to live next to one of their theme parks then you have to get your fix by watching one of their numerous movies. And with the House of Mouse owning so many of the biggest movie franchises, there looks to be plenty of ways to fill your Disney coffers in 2019. We’re breaking down the live-action movies the Walt Disney Company is releasing next year, so whip out those calendars on your phone and prep for a date with Mickey Mouse (and friends).
‘Dumbo’ (March 26, 2019)
Dumbo is a story with a lot of emotional pull. Originally released as an animated feature in 1941, the story about a little elephant with big ears was aimed to tug on heartstrings. Even today, you have to carry a heart of stone not to tear up a little watching Dumbo swing on his mother’s trunk during the film’s iconic “Baby Mine” sequence.
For the live-action version, Disney aims to update the story for a modern audience, and we can anticipate it will be much more aware of diversity than its predecessor. There are other changes, too. The first teaser for the new movie, being directed by our favorite impresario of the weird, Tim Burton, shows a number of human characters, a far cry from the original film. With a cast that includes Colin Farrell, Eva Green and Danny Devito, it’s understandable that you’d like to show them off, but this movie is named for Dumbo, after all. We do get a tantalizing, fleeting glimpse of the little elephant, but we’ll need a full Dumbo trailer to really to determine how he (and the movie) will fly. Regardless, Dumbo definitely proves Disney can live-action anything into success.
‘Aladdin’ (May 24, 2019)
In 1992, audiences were transported to the city of Agrabah where they met lovable “street rat,” Aladdin, and his merry band of friends, including Robin Williams’ iconic Genie. It’d be hard to top Williams’ performance alone – just try counting how many celebrity impressions he does in that movie – but the Walt Disney company is hoping to at least endear the story to a new generation with another take on the tale, this time told in live-action.
This new take on Aladdin is definitely a diamond in the rough, much like its title character. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film will lay out Aladdin’s (played by Mena Massoud) journey to becoming an unlikely suitor to Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). He’ll have his trusty monkey sidekick, Abu, a flying carpet and of course, the Genie (this time voiced by Will Smith).
It’s hard topping such an indelible classic, but I’m willing to give Ritchie the opportunity to try. Considering Ritchie graced us with the cult classic The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – itself an adaptation – says a lot. The cast for this is also fantastic, with Will Smith potentially being the real “wow” factor here, giving us a Genie that will probably be short on celebrity impressions but long on humor and charm. And let’s not forget Marwan Kenzari, who’s playing Jafar this go-round, a far cry from the old grizzled vizier of the animated movie. The first teaser didn’t give us much, just a brief glimpse of Massoud as Aladdin, the magic lamp, and an orchestral take on “Friend Like Me,” but that’s more than enough to whet our appetites.
‘The Lion King’ (July 19, 2019)
When Disney announced plans for a live-action remake of The Lion King it was met with a bit of skepticism. For starters, the term “live-action remake” is a bit misleading considering the studio will be using motion-capture technology like it did with The Jungle Book. No real-life lions singing “Circle of Life” here. But it’s also understandable fans wouldn’t want to mess with the memory of a movie that was pretty perfect when it debuted in 1994. The winner of two Academy Awards, how can Disney top a movie that already has a host of great songs and one of the great villainous voices of all time? (Jeremy Irons FTW!)
Well, if you’re Disney, you try to make lightning strike twice by hiring who you know. Director Jon Favreau has created some incredible family features from Elf to Iron Man to Disney’s aforementioned Jungle Book retread. They’re also pushing for a more diverse cast, hiring Donald Glover to voice Simba and Queen Bey herself, Beyonce, as the voice of Nala. If anything, hearing those two sing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” is game, set and match. I’m personally excited to hear Chiwetel Ejiofor’s take on Scar, especially as he’s already a villain in the Disney family (hello, Baron Mordo), as well as Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner’s new Timon and Pumbaa, which is perfect voice casting. Be prepared to cry all over again during that stampede scene (too soon?).
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