Disney live-action remakes ranked worst to best – GoldDerby

Written by on June 4, 2023

When it comes to deciding what constitutes a theatrical live-action remake of a Disney animated classic, every film fan seems to have an opinion, with many voicing them loudly following the release of Rob Marshall‘s “The Little Mermaid” (2023). For those of us at Gold Derby, however, we are strict constructionists as to what constitutes a genuine example, so here are the rules for our photo gallery of Disney live-action remakes ranked:


*Any live-action theatrical remake of the story of the original animated film. Where animal characters are depicted, computer-generated images are acceptable. (No cartoons!)


*Sequels or prequels to Disney remakes. Same characters but different story? Not a remake.

*Original films based on characters from the remakes. So “Cruella,” “Maleficient” and “Christopher Robin”? Bye.

*Remakes designated for Disney+ premieres, such as “Lady and the Tramp,” Robert Zemeckis‘ “Pinocchio” and “Peter Pen and Wendy.” The sole exception is “Mulan” (2020), which was just days away from its theatrical release when theaters shut down due to COVID. It was forced to premiere on Disney+ as a pay-per-view option, though it did play theatrically in theaters around the world where the streaming service was not yet available. Given the circumstances, the Motion Picture Academy ruled it eligible as a theatrical release and nominated the film for two Oscars. We’ll follow the academy’s lead here.

Though Marshall’s “The Little Mermaid” preserves most of the strengths of the beloved 1989 original, his rendition deserves its place in the upper tier of Disney’s live-action remakes for two key new additions. First, there’s a more developed growth of the romance between young mermaid Ariel (Halle Bailey) and island prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) that raises the stakes of the life-and-death struggle at the film’s climax. More important, however, is the casting of Bailey, a young actress who has the voice to dazzle an audience as Ariel (her “Part of Your World” will give you goosebumps) as well as the acting chops to make us all care about this little mermaid.

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