By Liv Barry
On Sept. 8, Disney released Robert Zemeckis’ “Pinocchio,” the latest in the company’s string of critically panned live-action reboots.
According to IMDb, the Disney+ original had an estimated budget of $150 million. Since the film was only released on streaming, however, its box office gross is not publicly available.
While the original “Pinocchio” is a classic, with Jiminy Cricket’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” cemented as the Walt Disney Company’s signature song, its 2022 reboot is a misfire.
Immediately after the film’s release, critics and audiences took to social media to share their — mostly negative — thoughts.
Many were frustrated with the reboot’s shallow retelling of the original story, feeling as if the modern updates to the story, like Pleasure Island’s anti-cyberbullying messages, were shoehorned into the film to appease younger audiences.
“The instinct to update an 80-year-old film in such a manner makes sense, but these fixes too often feel empty and add no insight,” RogerEbert critic Christy Lemire said.
Others were disheartened by the lack of care that Disney, a company cherished for its high-quality family entertainment, put into the film.
“…Do you think Disney makes things like ‘Pinocchio’ 2022 so that things like ‘Encanto’ seem even more amazing? How can one company do both of these and have them SO harshly different in quality,” Twitter user @Blackdragonsama said.
“Pinocchio” is the most recent Disney reboot to be so widely lambasted, but the film follows in the footsteps of its predecessors; 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” 2019’s “Dumbo” and “The Lion King,” and 2020’s “Mulan” all received similar criticisms upon release.
Despite the critiques lobbed at the many reboots, spin-offs, and sequels that Disney churns out, there is no stopping The Mouse. According to Insider, Disney has 15 live-action reboots slated for release within the next decade.
“Hocus Pocus 2” and “Disenchanted” both have streaming-only releases lined up for this fall.
Although the attachment of the Disney brand to these films would typically merit a theatrical release, the company opted for streaming releases to appeal to niche audiences.
Judging by the previews for “Hocus Pocus 2” and “Disenchanted,” the films seek to appeal to older audiences who grew up on these franchises.
Throughout the trailer for “Hocus Pocus 2,” the original film’s trio of witches cause chaos while interacting with “modern” aspects of life, like hoverboards and sheet masks. Likewise, Princess Giselle undertakes an HGTV-like “fixer-upper” project in the “Disenchanted” trailer.
While these are obvious attempts to modernize the films, these changes seem disingenuous and cheap to some fans.
“‘Hocus Pocus 2’ is gonna be super-cringe. I hope ya’ll are happy. You wanted this,” Twitter user @ohsogeekyblog said.
After the critical failures of Disney’s updated properties, it is difficult to understand why the company continues to churn out new installments to their beloved films.
Despite building their brand on the pretense of childhood magic, Disney is ultimately a billion dollar corporation looking to increase revenue. While a handful of their reboots flopped at the box office, nostalgia still manages to turn a major profit for the company.
Profit is king, and if a film might generate buzz, Disney will not hesitate to release it, regardless of quality.
“We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective,” former Disney CEO Michael Eisner once said.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
On Sept. 8, fans celebrated Disney+ Day to commemorate the third anniversary of the streaming service. During the celebration, new titles like “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Pinocchio” were released on the platform.