clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Every live-action Disney remake ranked from best to worst

SALT LAKE CITY — For the past five years, Disney has released at least one live-action adaptation of an animated film every year, and it doesn't look like the filmmakers will be stopping any time soon.

This year saw a signficant increase in this trend with three films released already — "Dumbo," "Aladdin" and "The Lion King" — and two more, "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" and "Lady and the Tramp," set for release by the end of the year. Disney can count on its adaptations to consistently draw in big crowds and make lots of money, but the critic reviews aren't always so predictable.

Here's a list of every Disney live-action remake ranked from best to worst based on its Rotten Tomatoes critical score, as well as a list of Disney's upcoming remakes.

1. The Jungle Book (2016)

Tomatometer score: 94%

Directed by Jon Favreau, this adaptation of the 1967 animated feature "The Jungle Book" is the highest-rated Disney reboot of all time. Its impressive combination of CGI and live action earned the film an Oscar in 2017 for best visual effects. A film review from the Deseret News called "The Jungle Book" a "landmark in special effects advancement" and a "visual leap forward."

It should be noted that Disney released a live-action "The Jungle Book" in 1994 that has a 79% Rotten Tomato score, though it doesn't hold up to the 2016 film.

2. Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Tomatometer score: 88%

We are including this remake in the list even though the 1977 film on which it was based wasn't a fully animated movie. The original "Pete's Dragon" was a mix of hand-drawn animation and live action that received mediocre-to-poor critic and audience reviews, but the 2016 remake directed by David Lowery elevated the story with high-quality production, a CGI dragon and performances from big stars such as Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard.

3. Cinderella (2015)

Tomatometer score: 84%

The remake of Disney's 1950 "Cinderella" animated feature is considered among critics to be one of the best live-action Disney films. A film review from Forbes declared it Disney's "best film yet in their 'turn our animated classics into live-action blockbuster' sub-genre." "Cinderella" stands out particularly for its score and costume design and received an Oscar nomination for best costume design in 2016. Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter star in the film, giving depth and emotion to traditionally flat characters.

4. Christopher Robin (2018)

Tomatometer score: 72%

"Christopher Robin" is an adaptation of Disney's Winnie the Pooh franchise, which put out its first feature film in 1977 — "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." The film was received well by critics and was even nominated for an Oscar in 2019 for best visual effects. The film stars Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell.

5. Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Tomatometer score: 71%

This remake of the 1991 animated film received generally positive reviews, but where it really shined was in the box office. "Beauty and the Beast" made more money in the box office than any other Disney remake to date, with an incredible $1.264 billion worldwide. The film stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans and more.

6. The Lion King (2019)

Tomatometer score: 58%

With the same director behind "The Jungle Book" heading up the project, "The Lion King" was expected to have a similar positive response, but critics were unimpressed, saying it was essentially just a shot-by-shot copy of the 1994 original. However, with the help of impressive CGI and big names like Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, Donald Glover and more, the movie had a large audience turnout in the opening weekend and was generally well-received.

7. Aladdin (2019)

Tomatometer score: 57%

Though it didn't do too well with the critics, "Aladdin" gets the honor of the highest audience score of any live-action Disney movie with a 94%. It also has the biggest gap between the critic score and audience score on Rotten Tomatoes out of any live-action Disney remake. The reboot of the 1992 animated film stars Will Smith as the genie with Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud as Jasmine and Aladdin, respectively.

8. Maleficent (2014)

Tomatometer score: 54%

This reimagining of Disney's 1959 classic "Sleeping Beauty" is told from the perspective of the evil fairy Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie. It had below-average ratings, but Disney considered it enough of a success to greenlight a sequel titled "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," which comes out later this year.

9. Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Tomatometer score: 51%

Tim Burton's take on the 1951 "Alice in Wonderland" is visually stunning, but critics were overwhelmingly bored with the other elements of the film. Starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, the film brought in enough interest from audiences to warrant a 2016 sequel — "Alice Through the Looking Glass," which got a dismal 29% Rotten Tomatoes score.

10. Dumbo (2019)

Tomatometer score: 46%

"Dumbo" is another Tim Burton film that didn't go as planned. Not only was the reboot of the 1941 animated film not received well by critics, it also didn't do as well at the box office as Disney expected. "Dumbo" had the "lowest domestic opening yet for one of the studio’s re-imaginings of its animated classics," according to Variety.

11. The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

Tomatometer score: 40%

Technically, this live-action movie is a loose adaptation of a segment of an animated film. In 1936, Walt Disney had an idea to create a cartoon short called "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," which eventually grew into a larger project that became the classic 1940 Disney feature "Fantasia." In the 2010 movie, Nicholas Cage stars as a sorcerer who prepares a teenager to inherit "Merlin's powers." As expected, critics didn't take too kindly to the movie.

12. 101 Dalmations (1996)

Tomatometer score: 39%

According to critics, "101 Dalmations" is the worst live-action Disney reboot of all time. The sequel, "102 Dalmations," did even worse with a 31% Rotten Tomatoes score, showing it's hard to beat the 1961 original. The movie stars Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, Jeff Daniels as Roger and around 230 live puppies, according to the Mirror Online.

Upcoming:

  • "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" will be in theaters Oct. 18, 2019. See the trailer here.
  • "Lady and the Tramp" comes out Nov. 12, 2019. But here's the catch: it will only be available on the Disney+ streaming service that launches the same day.
  • "Mulan" drops March 27, 2020. The movie will reportedly stray from the original, as it will not be a musical. Watch the trailer here.
  • "Cruella", a retelling of "101 Dalmations," is set for release on Dec. 23, 2020. Emma Stone will reportedly play Cruella De Vil, according to Digital Spy.

In the works:

  • "The Little Mermaid" is currently in production and, as confirmed by Disney, will star Halle Bailey as Ariel.
  • "The Sword in the Stone" is in the works and will be released on the Disney streaming service, according to Screen Rant. No release date has been announced yet.
  • "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is reportedly being written by David Henry Hwang with music by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Josh Gad, who is a producer for the project, is rumored to star as the lead, according to Deadline.