Isn't it great when your favorite animated characters are brought to life? The 1996 reboot of "101 Dalmatians" — which celebrates its 25th anniversary on Nov. 27, 2021 — was among the earliest live-action remakes. Glenn Close stars as Cruella De Vil in the movie based on Disney's 1961 cartoon. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work as the fur-loving villainess in the adventure-comedy flick that proved to be a big moneymaker, grossing more than $320 million in theaters. It also generated the 2000 sequel "102 Dalmatians" and inspired the 2021 origin story "Cruella" starring Emma Stone. In honor of the film's milestone anniversary, Wonderwall.com is rounding up the biggest live-action projects of the past, present and near future…
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Take two! Emma Stone brought the famous Disney villain Cruella de Vil from "101 Dalmatians" back to life in 2021's "Cruella," which focuses on the iconic baddie's origin story. The crime caper performed well at the box office, earning $233 million worldwide.
Angelina Jolie blew us away in 2014's "Maleficent," a reimagining of Disney's 1959 animated flick "Sleeping Beauty." Instead of telling the story from Aurora's perspective, "Maleficent" focuses on the story's well-known villain, giving some much needed background and context to explain her evil actions. "Maleficent," which also featured Angelina's daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, as a young Aurora, was a major hit. It grossed more than $758 million at the box office, won an Oscar for best costume design and spawned a sequel…
Angelina Jolie returned as the titular fairy-gone-bad in "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" in 2019. The sequel to 2014's "Maleficent" — a reimagining of Disney's 1959 animated flick "Sleeping Beauty" — continued to give Maleficent's perspective, with Elle Fanning reprising her role as Aurora and Michelle Pfeiffer joining the cast as Queen Ingrith. Though it was a success, the film didn't measure up to its predecessor, earning $491 million at the box office.
"Mulan" got the live-action treatment in 2020. The world premiere of the new Disney classic was held in March that year but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its theatrical release so it was moved to Disney+ that September. Yifei Liu took on the titular role in this action-packed and stunningly shot adaptation.
"A Whole New World," the Cave of Wonders and Will Smith in blue from head to toe? Sign us up! "Aladdin" got the live-action reboot treatment in 2019. Mena Massoud starred as Aladdin, Will portrayed Genie and Naomi Scott brought Princess Jasmine to life in the remake of the 1992 animated classic, which went on to bank more than $1 billion at the international box office.
"Aladdin" isn't the only popular Disney cartoon that scored a live-action remake in 2019. The studio also revamped its beloved 1955 animated classic "Lady and the Tramp" that year. The remake was a live-action and CGI hybrid that starred Tessa Thompson as Lady (brought to life by Rose the cocker spaniel), Justin Theroux as Tramp (brought to life by Monte the terrier mix), Kiersey Clemons as Darling, Thomas Mann as Jim Dear and Sam Elliott as Trusty.
"Dora and the Lost City of Gold" — a live-action remake of the Nickelodeon series "Dora the Explorer" — arrived in theaters in 2019. The film focuses on a teenaged Dora as she ditches high school to go on an adventure to save her parents (and solve a mystery!) deep in the jungle. Isabela Moner starred as Dora while Danny Trejo voiced Boots and Eva Longoria and Michael Peña rounded out the cast as Dora's parents.
Disney's 2019 remake of "Dumbo" stars Colin Farrell as the caretaker of the titular newborn elephant that can fly. The Tim Burton-directed movie is loosely inspired by the 1941 animated film and co-stars Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Nico Parker and Alan Arkin. Though "Dumbo" was poorly received by critics, it ultimately grossed more than $353 million worldwide.
"Beauty and the Beast" continued Disney's reign as a live-action powerhouse, earning more than $1.2 billion worldwide as well as two Oscar nominations. The 2017 film, a remake of the beloved 1991 animated movie of the same name, stars "Harry Potter" alum Emma Watson as Belle and "Downton Abbey" alum Dan Stevens as the Beast. The cast was rounded out with some of the industry's best including Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson. "Beauty and the Beast" went on to become the highest grossing live-action musical film of all time.
We can't wait for the return of Ariel! The Rob Marshall-directed live-action remake of 1989's "The Little Mermaid" is set to hit the big screen in 2023 (two years later than planned thanks to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic). Chloe X Halle's Halle Bailey stars as Ariel, Jonah Hauer-King plays Prince Eric, "Crazy Rich Asians" star Awkwafina is Scuttle, "Room" star Jacob Tremblay is Flounder and Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy is Ursula.
"Alice in Wonderland" is definitely one of the most impressive live-action remakes. The 2010 flick is loosely based on Disney's 1951 animated film of the same name. In the 2010 version, a 19-year-old Alice must work with the Mad Hatter to restore the White Queen to the throne and slay the Jabberwock, who is controlled by the Red Queen. "Alice in Wonderland" starred some of Hollywood's finest including Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Alan Rickman and Michael Sheen. The Tim Burton-directed film was also a juggernaut at the box office, earning more than $1 billion in ticket sales and becoming the fifth highest grossing film of all time during its theatrical run. "Alice in Wonderland" also took home two Academy Awards: best art direction and best costume design.
In 2016, "The Jungle Book" returned to the big screen with an all-new, live-action upgrade. The Jon Favreau-directed flick was inspired by the 1967 animated film and tells the story of Mowgli, an orphaned boy who sets out on a journey to find himself — with help from his animal guardians — while he's hunted by the evil Shere Khan. "The Jungle Book" enlisted an all-star cast of A-listers including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken to bring its characters to life. All that talent paid off: "The Jungle Book" was critically acclaimed, grossed $966 million at the box office and earned an Academy Award for visual effects.
There have actually been several live-action iterations of "The Jungle Book" over the years. Actor-director Andy Serkis took a stab at the legend with "Mowgli," which debuted on Netflix in late 2018. But it didn't fare quite as well as the version that came two years before it, scoring a paltry 52% fresh rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes in spite of an impressive voice cast that included Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, Matthew Rhys and Freida Pinto.
"Scooby-Doo" hit theaters in 2002 before the live-action craze really took off, but it's just as good as many of the remakes being released today. The film is based on the long-running Hanna-Barbera animated TV series of the same name and stars Linda Cardellini as Velma, Neil Fanning as Scooby-Doo, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred and Freddie's real-life wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar, as Daphne. In the movie, the gang reunites after a two-year disbandment to investigate a mystery at a popular resort. "Scooby-Doo" earned more than $275 million worldwide and spawned a 2004 sequel, "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed."
In 2015, Disney remade its 1950 animated classic "Cinderella." Like many of the remakes released both before and after, "Cinderella" starred an ensemble cast of high-profile actors including Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgard and Helena Bonham Carter. The Kenneth Branagh-directed film closely follows the original story: Cinderella attends a royal ball with the help of her fairy godmother and falls in love with Prince Charming, much to the dismay of her evil stepmother. "Cinderella" grossed more than $543 million at the box office and earned an Oscar nomination for costume design.
In 2006, Paramount released a live-action remake of "Charlotte's Web" featuring the voices of Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, Oprah Winfrey, Kathy Bates, Reba McEntire and Robert Redford as Charlotte and Wilbur's barnyard friends. The movie faithfully follows the 1973 animated film (which is based on the 1952 children's book). It was a critical and commercial success that earned more than $148 million in ticket sales.
This isn't your mama's Snow White! In 1937, Disney released the very first full-length animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," which is loosely based on a Brothers Grimm fairytale. In 2012, Universal took a stab at the same story with "Snow White and the Huntsman," a reimagining that saw Kristen Stewart's Snow White facing off against Charlize Theron's evil Queen Ravenna with the help of Chris Hemsworth's huntsman. Critics might not have been impressed, but that didn't hinder box office sales. The film scored two Oscar nominations (for costume design and visual effects) and a 2016 sequel.
Our love for Winnie-the-Pooh grew tenfold with the release of "Christopher Robin" in 2018. The film — which centers around the characters created by English author A. A. Milne in the '20s and brought to the small screen with the TV show "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" — follows an adult Christopher Robin as he reunites with childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh after losing his sense of imagination. Ewan McGregor stars as Christopher, with Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett and Sophie Okonedo joining him in the film. "Christopher Robin," which received an Oscar nomination for best visual effects, grossed more than $197 million at the box office.
We all love the 1966 animated holiday classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," which is based on the beloved Dr. Seuss story. So you can imagine our excitement when the live-action remake hit theaters back in 2000. The Ron Howard-directed flick perfectly cast Jim Carrey as the Grinch (he spent more than three hours in the makeup chair every day) and reimagined much of the traditional Grinch story. In this version, the Grinch is given a backstory to explain why he's so mean. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was a huge box office success that earned more than $345 million worldwide and received an Academy Award for best makeup.
You know a movie is impactful when you can make an entirely new film from just one sequence. The 2010 flick "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is based off a segment in Disney's 1940 animated film "Fantasia" — in the scene, Mickey Mouse portrays a sorcerer's trouble-prone apprentice. In the newer movie, Nicolas Cage plays Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer in modern-day Manhattan who's fighting against the forces of evil while searching for the person who will inherit Merlin's powers. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" has a fun plot, amazing CGI effects and quality acting, which all added up to a $215 million box office haul.
There have been several live-action films based on Disney's 1953 "Peter Pan" cartoon — from a 2003 film of the same name starring Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook to the 2015 prequel "Pan." But our favorite by far is 1991's "Hook," which sees an adult Peter — who was first created by writer J. M. Barrie in the early 1900s — returning to Neverland to save his two children after they're kidnapped by Captain Hook. Robin Williams was perfection as Peter, while Dustin Hoffman took on the role of Hook and Julia Roberts portrayed Tinker Bell. Steven Spielberg directed the adventure-comedy flick, which scored five Academy Award nominations.
In 1994, "The Flintstones" made the jump from the Stone Age to the big screen. The comedy, which is a live-action remake of the 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, starred John Goodman as Fred Flintstone, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma Flintstone, Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble, Rick Moranis as Barney Rubble, Elizabeth Taylor as Wilma's mother and then-newcomer Halle Berry as a new character. "The Flintstones" added adult humor and tone to the franchise, leading to major box office success. The film earned almost $342 million worldwide against a $46 million budget.
Back in 2003, Mike Myers portrayed the titular troublesome feline in "The Cat in the Hat." The live-action film — a reimagining of the 1971 animated TV special and the original 1957 Dr. Seuss story — added new characters, adult humor and subplots to the story. Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Alec Baldwin and Kelly Preston also starred in the movie, which tanked with critics and fans. In fact, Dr. Seuss's widow, Audrey Geisel, was so upset by the finished product that she decided to block any further live-action adaptations of her husband's work from being produced.
Back in 1977, Disney released the original "Pete's Dragon," a live-action musical centered around an orphaned little boy and his friendship with a sometimes invisible dragon — who was animated in the film. In 2016, the studio released a remake starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban and Robert Redford. The newer iteration, which features a CGI version of the titular dragon rather than a cartoon character, received rave reviews from critics and grossed nearly $144 million worldwide.
The 2019 remake of "The Lion King" is a bit controversial: Though it's been billed as a live-action remake, the Jon Favreau-directed version of the beloved 1994 cartoon musical actually employs a photorealistic form of CGI animation … meaning it's also, technically, an animated film — despite what Disney brass would have you believe. The studio secured the best of the best for the cast: Donald Glover as Simba, Beyonce as Nala, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, John Oliver as Zazu and James Earl Jones — once again — as Mufasa. The remake was a huge hit at the box office, banking more than $1.6 billion worldwide in spite of the fact that it scored a measly 53% fresh rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes.