by Caitlin Rathbun
Dear Disney Family,
As you know, we here at The Walt Disney Company pride ourselves on our ability to seamlessly reimagine timeless, animated Mouse House classics for the moviegoers of today. However, our executive management team is also aware that movie critics have voiced a few concerns that the studio’s live-action interpretations are “tainting” or “callously desecrating” our IP in the process! I see, now more than ever, that it is imperative for me to assuage these concerns, and affirm Disney’s unwavering commitment to the characters and stories that hold such a special place in the hearts of millions.
And if that means publicly defending my bimonthly pilgrimage to bury VHS copies of beloved animated Disney movies in the rotten earth of a children’s pet sematary, then so be it.
Mining an old Native American burial ground for nostalgia (through what is, to my limited understanding, ancient black magic) aligns perfectly with Disney’s strategic priorities. I won’t bore you with the details, other than that it involves me, Bob Iger, booking a seven-hour flight from the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, scaling a copse of fallen trees with Motion Picture Production President Sean Bailey, and performing necromantic rituals deep in the accursed, satanic woods of rural Maine.
If you ask me, that doesn’t make Disney’s brand any different from the one we all know and love! That’s just us remaining competitive in an ever-changing entertainment landscape.
But when it comes to a leading pioneer like Disney, there will always be naysayers. Occasionally, those naysayers will be a folksy old man who warily guides you to the burial ground after listening to your plans for a live-action The Little Mermaid, and attempts to stifle imagination with a foreboding: “Sometimes, Bob Iger, dead is better.” In response, I always ask, “What would a certain man named Walt Disney do; the legendary animator with an unparalleled vision of combining magic with the art of storytelling? How would he react to the idea of resurrecting that 1989 classic?”
By knocking a Disney Vault security guard unconscious with a rusty shovel in the dead of night, digging crude graves for the original animation concept art he’s just stolen, and getting The Rock to voice the fucking crab, that’s how.
As any artist knows, creativity and originality can take countless forms. Sometimes, that form just happens to be a soulless, blue Will Smith genie crawling out of its shallow plot, its eyes insensate and empty; its rictus smile glutted with leaves and dirt, as if silently mocking us for begetting mankind’s hubris. That, and also a photo-realistic, CGI Simba playing with the intestines of now-deceased studio Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Alan Horn, all the while singing a haunting, unearthly reprise of “The Circle of Life.”
By now you might be asking yourself, how in the world did 2019’s The Lion King only get a 52% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes? Well, that’s only because we waited too long, damn it! Yes… I understand now. The ground desires a fresher offering. It’ll be different with Lilo & Stitch, you’ll see!
I know it will.
The Walt Disney Company