Disney has been going back into the old catalog of late and using their previously animated movies to feed the pipeline for new films. It’s been a smart strategy, getting into live-action remakes involving and centered around their most popular characters. And now Disney is apparently thinking even further ahead. According to insider Daniel Richtman, the studio has even begun plans for live-action movies whose animated versions haven’t even hit the screen yet. One of those films is Raya and the Last Dragon.
The news of Raya and the Last Dragon getting a live-action version is surprising considering we haven’t even seen the animated version yet. The movie, which hasn’t yet released, follows the titular character as she sets about to find a long-lost dragon that can help to save the world. Raya will technically enter the Disney princess ranks joining a group that’s diversified over the years in terms of casting and story. Check out the trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon which looks like it’s going to be pretty fantastic.
It’s clear from the trailer why Disney would see an opportunity for a cool live action flick based on this movie. It has a heavy martial arts vibe with some stunning visuals in the backdrop and setting. Plus, it appears the main character Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) is a lone wolf type, capable and head strong who can handle herself in a fight. That could definitely play on the big screen with real actors.
Disney has had to delay Raya and the Last Dragon because of pandemic-related closings and regulations. It was originally supposed to hit screens in November of last year, but was pushed back and now will come out on March 21, 2021. The plan is for a limited theater run, but in keeping with the state of movies these days, will also release the same day on Disney+.
If Disney decided to push quickly forward on a live-action version of the movie it wouldn’t be a surprise. In recent years, they’ve put a number of these out, typically one-to-one remakes of the original. Those include The Lion King, Aladdin, Dumbo, The Jungle Book ,and Beauty and the Beast to name a few. To a movie, almost each one of these was a monster box office success. In fact, of that group, only Dumbo failed to rake in a billion (with a “b”) dollars at the box office. Mulan took the same route but underperformed thanks to coming out in pandemic times. Other than that poor timing, do you see why Disney might want to keep going this route?
It might be putting the cart before the horse for Disney to begin considering a live-action version of a movie that hasn’t even hit screens yet. But if they are looking at their track record with taking this approach, it’s tough to argue with at least giving it strong consideration. It’s tantamount to double-dipping on a strong initial story and I suspect most studios would love the chance to be able to have two different and distinct versions of the same film.