Disney are taking adults from around the world back to their childhood with remakes of several of their classics. Over the past couple of months there have been reports of live action remakes for some of their most iconic films. The live action remake of Cinderella was released in UK cinemas last month and has been a success with critics (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/reviews/article-3014004/Cinderella-...) and fans alike. The success of this remake and last year’s Maleficent has seen Disney confirm live action remakes and releasing details for Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Mulan, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh and the Jungle Book. Work is already underway on all these remakes, with Emma Watson, Emma Thomas, Luke Evens and Dan Stevens announced as just some of the new inhabitants of the enchanted castle (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2771200/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm), Peter Hedges rewriting Pinocchio for a modern audience (http://variety.com/2015/film/news/pinocchio-live-action-movie-disney-120...) and the remake of the classic Jungle Book due for release in just a few short months.
But despite some of these films having only just been announced there is already controversy surrounding them. Mulan in particular has seen fans call for Disney to preserve the integrity of their characters ethnicity with the petition “Tell Disney you don’t want a whitewashed Mulan” (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/505/768/292/tell-disney-you-dont-want-a-w...) having almost 70,000 signatures and gaining more daily. The cast for Mulan has not been announced yet but concerns over Hollywood, and Disney in particular, using well know white actors for characters that are clearly not Caucasian has been growing since they cast Johnny Depp as Tonto in The Lone Ranger Remake (http://mic.com/articles/52413/the-lone-ranger-movie-why-are-native-ameri...). Despite Depp publically acknowledging his Native American heritage critics “still perceived him as a white man playing a minority role.” The cast of Mulan is yet to be announced and although petitions like “Tell Disney you don’t want a whitewashed Mulan” raise the importance of casting actors who can realistically represent the characters they are playing and the ethnic diversity of the world as a whole.
Like their original cartoon counterparts the remakes have been selected to appeal to a wide range of viewers from different backgrounds around the world; Mulan is set in China, The Jungle Book in India and Beauty and the Beast in France. The flipside to criticisms of the potential mistakes Disney could make is that if they cast and script the movies in the right way it will bring a more accurate representation of the world and its ethnic diversity to children’s movies. The traditional films could also be updated to make them culturally accurate and relevant, as the remakes we have seen so far are have been. In Maleficent they looked into the background of the character and explored how the effects abuse can have on a person. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2655642/Angelina-Jolie-reve...). With the Mulan remake being written by two female writers some believe (http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/why-disneys-live-action-mul...) that it will follow in Maleficent’s footsteps and make it relevant to adult audiences as well as entertaining for children.