Peter Pan & Wendy is a historic disaster for Disney with a 12 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Live-action remakes are always risky business, and in the case of Disney’s Peter Pan & Wendy, the risk was seemingly not worth the reward. There is a saying that numbers don’t lie, and the only reward this film received was the worst audience score for a live-action Disney remake on Rotten Tomatoes at an abysmal 12 percent. And since there’s nothing but honesty behind raw numbers, then it’s safe to say that the truth most certainly did no favors for this particular remake.
Though Peter Pan & Wendy fared better on the critical front with a 62 percent rating across 130 reviews at the time of this article, we can’t help but wonder why this movie received some of its worst reviews from audiences. The audience reviews cite a lack of imagination, and an overall underwhelming plot story considering how engaging the source material proved to be in the past. But there may be a reason for this film being so cynically received.
One very important factor to consider is that a lot of the reviews for Peter Pan & Wendy were obviously written by adults who fondly remember the animated 1953 film. In other words, they’re potentially viewing this remake through the cynical lens of adulthood despite the fact that this film is intended for children. It’s also worth noting that although critics of the original Disney animated film didn’t give it the worst reviews, it did receive a healthy amount of criticism for its lack of faithfulness to the original 1904 play it was based on.
And critically speaking, the original Peter Pan has a 77 percent rating, which isn’t too far off from Peter Pan & Wendy‘s 62 percent. It’s only natural for somebody who’s heard variations of this story time and time again throughout their life to think of this version as the worst version. And we don’t necessarily blame them for feeling this way.
One of the most glaring criticisms of Peter Pan & Wendy, however, is that it missed the opportunity to be a modern twist on such an iconic classic. The general consensus is that it “barely resembles the original” and that it “panders to modern audiences” instead of leaning into the whimsical charm of its animated predecessor. And some of the worst audience reviews state that Peter Pan & Wendy is an insult to both themselves and the animated version.
When a live-action remake is pitted against an animated legacy property, it goes without saying that it will fail to meet a lot of people’s expectations. Our sense of nostalgia is too strong to allow any other possible outcome when comparing apples to apples in such a way. And though Peter Pan & Wendy may be considered to be the worst live-action adaptation to date, it does give us a fresh perspective on Peter Pan’s past friendship with Captain Hook, and we do get to see Wendy get rescued from a plank walk by using Tinker Bell’s pixie dust to escape danger.
It’s also worth noting that audiences in general are growing tired of live-action remakes of older properties. But it’s hard to blame companies like Disney for pursuing projects like Peter Pan & Wendy considering how lucrative it is to combine modern cinematography and our ever-growing penchant for nostalgia. In many cases, it’s easier to get a return on your investment by leaning into an already-established intellectual property rather than coming up with something new from scratch.
Although Peter Pan & Wendy is shaping up to be the worst of the bunch, it may still be too early to tell.
But if you’re a fan of Peter Pan, you might still want to give Peter Pan & Wendy a look. At the end of the day, you’re going to like what you’re going to like. Even though some fans say that this is the worst Disney live-action adaptation to date, you may disagree with them.