As I sat and watched Cruella, I couldn’t help but think “is this all that Disney has to offer?” It’s a movie that was scatterbrained. We had an intro that felt rushed yet never-ending, an average middle portion, and an ending that was just bleh. Indifference might be the best word to describe this movie. It didn’t suck, like some of the more recent live-action movies from Disney, but it didn’t live up to the potential it had.
This makes me ask: what happened to Disney movies. I’m not talking about Marvel, Star Wars, or Pixar. With the exception of a clunker here and there, those franchises are good movies and guaranteed fun. But what happened to their core intellectual properties. AKA the movies that you think of when you hear Disney.
They have a wealth of IP that could make for great reboots. Even Cruella has a strong story, albeit one of the weaker ones in my eyes. Furthermore, they almost always have the cast to back it up. But their movies fall short of what they could be and it seems like playing it safe has become the status quo.
Walt Disney had a saying: “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” It seems like Disney flipped that saying and committed to making movies to make money. Yes, the economics of movies were different when Walt Disney was alive. But that core idea shouldn’t need to change.
You make movies to be creative and creativity takes risk. It takes vision. It means you look at the status quo and either reject it or say “I could do this better.” Walt Disney knew that and deep down, I think current Disney executives know that. Disney, always focused on squeezing the largest profit out of their films, now makes movies to please everyone. You can’t make a good movie if that is your goal, yet that is what Disney does these days. They play it safe because of their profit line. They don’t dare push the boundaries of their IP because they fear the unknown. Simply put, Disney is becoming stale.
As a result, we get movies like Cruella. Is it awful? No. Is it amazing? Absolutely not. It falls somewhere in between in the comfort zone. It has all the elements of a movie where people can leave feeling like they didn’t waste money but still wish they got a little bit more. Sadly, there is no end in sight for this. It seems as if Disney is doubling down on this mentality. The best example of this is the slated Lion King prequel.
Congratulations, Disney. With Curella, you made a movie to make money. In the process, you continue to lose what made your movies so special. The charm we fell in love with has shipped off to the creativity you bought at Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar. We can only hope that they continue to push the boundaries of creativity and filmmaking.