We recently got to chat with Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, the immensely talented filmmakers behind Disney classics Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, for our Collider Connected series. Our full, super-sized conversation will be coming soon, but today we wanted to share their thoughts on the Disney’s live-action remake phenomenon.
Obviously, their Beauty and the Beast was turned into a $1 billion smash and Josh Gad, who costarred in Beauty and the Beast as the bumbling LeFou, is producing a live-action remake of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Also, rumors of varying degrees of believability, persist for a live-action Atlantis: The Lost Empire. (We’d watch it.)
“I have mixed feelings about the live-action remakes. On one hand, it’s great to have been involved in movies that have had so much longevity and have created so much affection for them in the audience that they’d be excited to see a new adaptation of the movie,” Wise said, diplomatically, before continuing. “But also, it’s like … go watch the old one.”
Trousdale was more direct. “My completely objective and non-varnished opinion is that the animated ones are better anyway,” Trousdale said. “And that’s just me.” Wise then chimed in: “It’s not just you.”
There has also been controversy about proper accreditation and compensation. Everyone knows that animated movies take a small army, from animators to story artists to writers and technicians. Take the animated Mulan, for example. The original 1998 animated classic has five credited screenwriters and 12 credited story artists (including the co-head of story), and another 13 names credited with “additional story material.” None of them are credited on the new live-action movie.
Most of this has to do with arcane details of animated films being represented by a different union than the live-action films. Still, with something like Beauty and the Beast, where Wise and Trousdale are credited as executive producers and whole swaths of the movie are lifted, shot-for-shot, from the original animated film, I figured the directors would get something for their trouble. As it turns out, not so much.
“I didn’t get a red cent from the new Beauty and the Beast,” Wise said. (The sound you hear after is my jaw hitting the floor.) “No, there was no financial to it. And the fact that we got credit was a surprise to me,” Trousdale confirmed. Wise exclaimed: “Me too! Thanks!”
Trousdale then explained how he even found out that they would be receiving credit. “I got invited to the premiere at the El Capitan, which was a surprise. I know Don Hahn [who produced the original Beauty and the Beast] pulled strings to make that happen,” Trousdale said. “And I’m sitting there with my girlfriend and the credits went by was like ‘Holy crap there I am!’” Again, he thanks Hahn: “Don worked his magic with that as well.”
So, just know that even if you directed the animated movie that is getting the fancy live-action overhaul (which borrows liberally from your original creation), you won’t make any money … even if that remake makes over $1 billion worldwide.