Disney, in the 80s and 90s, relied heavily on princesses to pull itself out of a financial slump. However, now that it is one of the largest companies in the entertainment world making huge profits, have the princesses gone? Has Disney decided to grow up finally? And what changed in the process?
With Disney’s acquisition of Marvel, Fox, and Star Wars, the company has moved steadily into the realm of science fiction and speculative fiction. However, one of the critical elements that showcased Disney’s early rise to prominence is absent now. Whatever happened to the Disney princesses?
- Disney princesses played a large part in the Disney renaissance
- Lack of Disney princess movies
- Will Disney move on from its princess background?
The Disney Renaissance
The Disney renaissance began in 1989 and included movies like ‘Hercules,’ ‘Mulan’ and ‘Pochahontas.’ The film most commonly associated with Disney was released in this era. Disney’s renaissance was important because former Disney animator Don Bluth had started to give Disney stiff competition during the earlier years.
Disney was battling competition from American movies and the Studio Ghibli movies, both of which started appearing on the American shores around the time. After Walt Disney died, he had left a void to be filled, and few people had his vision and determination.
Disney made prestigious animated films, and with the recent success of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, Disney wanted to hit it off and start doing more live-action films.
However, Disney animation struck back with ‘The Little Mermaid’. The shenanigans of Ariel became a global superhit. With subsequent releases of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Aladdin’, Disney cemented itself in the worldwide market again.
What followed was a brilliant coup; there were regular releases of Disney movies, and the television properties all became iconic. Disney was built on the back of fairy tales, and with these modern interpretations, Disney became one of the driving forces of film production in the world.
When you have as much money as Disney, you can afford to do experimentation. Disney made acquisitions throughout the 2000s and 2010s. Getting Star Wars, Marvel Comics, and Fox Studios, Disney became one of the largest companies in the media world.
Currently, Disney and Warner Brothers control most of the entertainment industry. The 2000s also saw the emergence of the most powerful Disney Princess in Elsa. ‘Frozen’ and ‘Frozen 2’ are some of Disney’s most popular properties at this point, with a steady rise in toy sales. However, the priorities changed firmly after the release of ‘Avengers’, suddenly, it appeared that Disney was interested in superheroes more than princesses.
Even the movies changed in appearance. ‘Brave’, ‘Tangled’, and ‘Frozen’, all feature princesses with their individual stories and paths. The Disney princess movies’ entire structure changed with the changing times and became more focused on unique stories.
One of the main contention points has been that Disney princess movies mostly exist as live-action remakes and sequels. Individual stories are rare and far between after 2010. The remakes are popular, and they do cash in on nostalgia, but they haven’t racked up the numbers that Disney renaissance movies did.
One of the critical points in this change is that the acquisitions by Disney company have been extremely profitable. Not only did MCU become the most famous film series in terms of revenue, but Star Wars has also been breaking records at the box office. The new merger with Fox also has the potential to turn in significant profits.
So, what happens to the princesses?
The future of the Disney Kingdom
MCU is here to stay, and Disney princesses don’t seem like a leading priority for Disney. While this might means that no more Disney princess movies would become as primarily marketed, Disney would still be making princess movies.
The more worrying trend is the multiple remakes that Disney seems to be doing every day. Looking at this ‘Lion King’ remake still sends people to the uncanny valley, and the entire exercise appears to be a cheap cash grab from the minds of Disney. Original films by Disney have lessened in the past few years, and this might be the story that continues down the line too. Meanwhile, there would be some independent films, but there will not be large properties particularly geared towards telling an individual story.
With the renaissance era of Disney closing shop, Disney princesses have become rarer on the screen. While it doesn’t signal the end of Disney princesses for the media giant, it does mean that the princess properties will not be the main focus of the Disney brand moving forward. Disney has come of age, and it seems that princesses have little role to play in their adulthood.