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Though not all audiences are happy about it, Disney has landed a good deal of success re-releasing its beloved animated classics as live-action remakes. Some are legitimate live-action remakes, and others are closer to photo-realistic CGI that gets the label because, well, it looks realer than regular animation. Both forms of these remakes have raked in big bucks for Disney, which has me wondering, why haven't other studios followed suit?
Particularly given studios like Dreamworks, Universal, and others are sitting on successful animated properties that could potentially rake in major profits with their own live-action adaptations, it seems odd this hasn't really been tried elsewhere. Especially considering there are some animated projects from other studios that would be far more exciting than some of the remakes Disney has done, and might even offer a chance at re-invigorating a property for new audiences.
Perhaps Disney just has the better infrastructure for this sort of live-action remake right now, and perhaps some of these live-action pitches have already slid across the desks of Hollywood executives. At the end of the day, it's hard to deny that remaking any of these would get some folks excited, and potentially be more exciting than the eventual reboot of the next Disney animated classic on the list.
Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003, and every year that's passed without the discussion of a live-action adaptation feels like a crime to me. The story of Chihiro Ogino's time in the bathhouse serving mystical creatures is entertaining from start to finish, and would look stunning with today's special effects. A live-action No-Face would be slightly horrifying for children, but that would make the experience all the more memorable!
Granted, live-action anime adaptations can be hit or miss, but that's usually more of a testament to budgets for these adaptations being lower than the typical Hollywood blockbuster. Adapting anime can be a risk, but when the adapted anime came from a superstar of the genre like Hayao Miyazaki and the iconic Studio Ghibli, one would think his name recognition would loosen up the purse strings and encourage a studio to take a risk.
As horrifying or ridiculous as this concept may sound, there's been progress towards a Shrek reboot, and it wouldn't be surprising if it were brought back as a live-action movie. Memes have consequences, ladies and gentlemen, and if Dreamworks executives continue to see the youth of today pumping "All Star" and making videos of a miniature Shrek running a dog agility course, eventually one of them is probably going to sign off on a live-action Shrek.
Which wouldn't be as terrible of an idea as it may sound, honestly. Shrek The Musical was a fairly popular thing on the stage, so there's reason to believe audiences would respond well to the thought of seeing a live-action version with the ogre recreated with practical effects. Hell, with how much Mike Myers likes prosthesis and character roles, a studio might even convince him to suit up for it!
The Iron Giant
The Iron Giant got a brief cameo in Ready Player One, and it was glorious. It looked exactly like someone would've imagined a live-action version of the massive robot would look like, and left little doubt that the character could be recreated in a live-action setting and look pretty legit.
The million dollar question is, will a live-action film ever happen? Brad Bird has made it clear a sequel will not happen, although that doesn't necessarily rule out a remake. Additionally, Vin Diesel has expressed interest in reprising the role in the past, so Warner Bros. theoretically has the voice of the character ready to go should they decide to bring it back. I say why not? It seems like a cool idea, especially when the film's cult status could potentially lead to mainstream success a second time around.
Pokemon: The First Movie
On the heels of the announcement that Detective Pikachu is officially the highest grossing video game movie ever, now feels like the perfect time to throw every Pokemon movie idea out there at a wall to see which one will be the next to be made. Pokemon: The First Movie is an obvious choice, and could finally give the world the first official live-action Ash Ketchum.
Pokemon: The First Movie was actually recently remade in CGI and was just released in Japan. One has to think there are folks watching that release very closely, and possibly wondering if it may be the blueprint for the live-action equivalent in the states. Let's hope that's happening, and in the meantime start fan casting for who would be the ultimate actor and actress to play Team Rocket!
How To Train Your Dragon
This is another no-brainer that someone at Dreamworks has to be considering, right? After all, how awesome would it be to see the world of How To Train Your Dragon recreated in a photo-realistic setting? Game of Thrones has shown the technology is there to make a pretty convincing dragon (or wyvern, whatever), so one can only imagine what one of these more cartoony dragons would look like with the average budget of a Hollywood Blockbuster.
The only real downside of a How To Train Your Dragon live-action is that folks like Jay Baruchel and America Ferrara are too old to play characters like Hiccup and Astrid--at least at their ages in the first animated flick. There would seemingly have to be new actors in the roles, which can sometimes be jarring for audiences to see. With that said, good castings often make any discomfort a fleeting feeling, as evidenced by Tom Holland's current run as Sony and the MCU's Spider-Man. Now, if they end up giving Toothless non-retractable teeth, then we may have a problem.
The Secret Of Nimh
Lots of older folks may remember The Secret Of Nimh well, probably because it scared the hell out of them in their youth. This bizarre animated adventure really didn't play down to its audience with its tale of highly intelligent lab rats, and it deserves some real admiration for that.
There has been chatter about a live-action hybrid remake of The Secret of NIMH since 2015, but that's been about the extent of it. If there's been some serious steps forward on this project the public doesn't know about it, although the fact that someone is trying to make it happen gives us hopes that it might someday. Let's just hope it's as dark as the original, and not some toned down version that won't scar future generations for life.
Of course, it's also worth mentioning that there are plenty of animated Fox movies that could do well being adapted into live action. We didn't include them on this list due to Fox being owned by Disney now, but it would be interesting to see, say, live action versions of Anastasia and Titan A.E., as a pair of examples.
Got a suggestion that isn't on this list? Be sure to mention it down in the comments below and continue to stick with CinemaBlend for the latest in movie and television news.