Disney Switches from Rereleasing to Reimagining

April 18, 2015

For years Walt Disney Studios thrived by strategically reissuing its catalogue of animated classics on home video. Starting out on VHS and continuing with DVD and Blu-ray, the company rereleased a movie every seven years, updating the special features and packaging into something new for consumers to purchase. With digital downloads rising and DVD sales on the downturn, however, Disney’s longtime cash cow is starting to run dry. As a result, the Mouse has switched focus to reimagining its past triumphs rather than simply rereleasing them.

The studio’s Cinderella is the first in an upcoming line of live-action updates to classic fairytales. Featuring top-of-the-line special effects and vibrant costumes, the movie has already raked in more than $150 million at the domestic box office while collecting nearly double that amount abroad. Much of the movie’s success can be attributed to the broad appeal of live-action remakes. Not only do kids get a kick out of the colorful spectacle flashing on screen, but also parents enjoy seeing stories they loved as children take on new life. What’s more, these movies present Disney with the opportunity to develop loads of related merchandise. Just as so many little girls demanded their own princess dresses after watching Frozen, the company hopes that Cinderella will make the demand for glass slippers go through the roof.

Nevertheless, Disney isn’t the only studio producing fairytale-inspired films. In fact, Universal beat Disney to the concept with 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Since many fairytales exist in the public domain, anyone can bring these stories to the big screen. That’s why Warner Bros. has a Jungle Book-inspired movie slated for release in 2017, more than a year before Disney’s own Jungle swings into theaters. Disney is hoping its signature visual flair and unique eye for storytelling will keep the company ahead of the competition. Still, the studio has other things to worry about besides competing live-action remakes. With more consumers tethered to their TVs than ever before, movie studios must create an “experience” that draws people into theaters. Disney hopes that combining real-world glitz with classic tales of adventure and romance will fit this requirement, although only time will tell if it works in the long run.



  1. Will Disney’s latest attempt at brand extensions be successful?
  1. Does a product such as Cinderella have a product life cycle?


Source: Christoper Palmeri and Anousha Sakoui,” Disney’s Princesses Get a Little Live Action,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, March 5, 2015. Photo by: Tom Bricker.