Nostalgia sells, and Disney is in the business of cashing in on that. Over the past decade, the company has been churning out live-action remakes of its classic films as a way to entertain viewers of all generations. Of course, some films have proven much more profitable than others.
Sometimes Disney gets remakes very right, which results in glowing reviews for films and higher box-office profits than anticipated. Even Disney can’t win them all though, so it’s inevitable that some remakes don’t generate the anticipated level of buzz — or money. Regardless, it’s not uncommon for Disney remakes to gross more than $1 billion at box offices worldwide.
Want to see how your favorite measured up to its peers? Here’s a look at the most and least successful Disney remakes in recent history.
Released in 2019, “Aladdin” was a huge success, scoring $1.05 billion at box offices worldwide on a $183 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. Will Smith starred as the Genie and scored an upfront payday of around $12.5 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He also reportedly received a solid backend cut of the film’s profits, which raised his total salary above his original quote.
‘Alice in Wonderland’: Win
In 2010, Johnny Depp starred as the Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland.” A huge success, the film garnered $1.03 billion at box offices worldwide, on a $200 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. Depp also won big, as he earned a $40 million payday from the film, which included backend pay based on its gross, according to Vanity Fair.
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‘Beauty and the Beast’: Win
Worth the investment, “Beauty and the Beast” had a $160 million production budget, but earned $1.26 billion at theaters worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Emma Watson played Belle in the 2017 film and took in $3 million upfront for her work, according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, sources revealed her contract included the ability to earn up to $15 million if the movie reached earnings similar to “Maleficent” — which it far surpassed.
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Grossing $542.4 million at box offices worldwide, “Cinderella” was one of the lower-earning Disney remakes, according to BoxOfficeMojo. However, the 2015 film also had a more modest $95 million production budget than others in its category, so it was still extremely profitable. Salaries weren’t made public, but the starry cast included Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham Carter.
Released in 2019, “Dumbo” had a $170 million production budget, but earned just $353.3 million at box offices worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Given the size of the budget, Disney executives likely expected the film to earn more, but regardless, it still came out on top.
The A-list “Dumbo” cast included Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, whose salaries were not made public. However, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Will Smith was originally in negotiations to join the cast but backed out after his demands for a $20 million salary were not met.
A major box-office win, “Maleficent” grossed $758.4 million worldwide on a $180 million production budget, according to Box Office Mojo. The 2014 film starred Angelina Jolie as the title character, which earned her a base salary of $20 million, plus profit participation, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Released in 2019, “Maleficent 2” was a smaller scale win for Disney, generating $491.7 million at box offices worldwide, on a $185 million production budget. In 2018, Forbes estimated Jolie’s earnings at $28 million, crediting the film for most of it.
‘Mary Poppins Returns’: Win
At first glance, the $349.5 million worldwide gross from “Mary Poppins Returns” doesn’t seem like a lot compared to most other Disney remakes, but it was still profitable, according to Box Office Mojo. The film had a $130 million budget, which according to Variety, included a salary of around $8 million to $10 million for Emily Blunt, who played the title character.
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Originally slated for release on March 27, Disney pushed the “Mulan” release date several times before ultimately opting to make it available exclusively to its streaming service subscribers for an additional $30. The film hit Disney+ on Sept. 4 and was streamed by approximately 1.12 million households over Labor Day weekend, according to Samba TV.
“Mulan” also had a small international release in theaters, which generated $66.8 million, according to Box Office Mojo. When added together, the $33.6 million streaming revenue and the $66.8 million international box-office gross equals $100.4 million. According to IndieWire, the film had a $200 million budget — before marketing costs — making it a major loss for Disney.
‘The Jungle Book’: Win
Another success for Disney, “The Jungle Book” scored $966.6 million at box offices worldwide on a $175 million production budget, according to Box Office Mojo. The 2016 film’s star-studded line-up included Scarlett Johansson, who voiced Kaa. Her salary was not publicly revealed, but a Forbes article published in 2015 estimated she earned about $10 million per project at the time.
‘The Lion King’: Win
“The Lion King” grossed $1.66 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. It’s $260 million production budget proved a solid investment, which included one cast member’s eye-raising salary.
While never officially made public, a tweet from @TheBeyHiveTeam generated a lot of buzz by implying Beyoncé earned $25 million for her contributions. Beyond voicing Nala in the film, she also worked on the film’s soundtrack and released the album “The Lion King: The Gift.”
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