Disney likes winning. The studio isn’t remaking hits like Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book because it’s excited by the creative possibilities of bringing animated films into another medium; it’s doing it to stack money into mountains for its shareholders. But what if Disney tried making live-action versions of the animated films that underachieved, either creatively or commercially? Could it turn these losses into (CGI-heavy) live-action wins?
The Wind in the Willows (1949) A missed opportunity: The short film that inspired Disneyland’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride doesn’t even feature that attraction’s namesake car chase. A rollicking action-comedy could be created from this minor classic.
The Aristocats (1970) Produced as the studio tried to find its footing in the wake of Walt Disney’s death, this one isn’t as good as you might remember it—the storytelling is flat, and there’s some straight-up racist stuff going on. Do-over. Who doesn’t love cat videos?
The Black Cauldron (1985) Bet you’ve never even heard of this sword-and-sorcery epic, Disney’s first PG-rated animated film and a massive flop. Its bones are good, though, if a bit Hobbit-like.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) If this hand-drawn film had been made when CGI animation finally caught up with its ambitions, it might have worked. Of all the possible live-action films on this list, Atlantis could be the most visually dazzling.