Disney’s Bambi is returning to the screen but this time he will roam a digitally created photorealistic forest and interact with animals that have been brought to “live action” cinema via a hard-drive not a soundstage.
Following in pixel paw-prints of The Jungle Book and The Lion King, the next Disney classic from the hand-drawn animation era to get a 21st Century revamp will be the 1942 tearjerker about a fawn finding his way in a hard-knock world.
The Farewell team of Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz and Andrew Miano will produce under the banner of Depth of Field, their production company. Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel) and Lindsey Beer (Sierra Burgess Is a Loser) are on board to write the script that will include a rabbi named Thumper, a skunk called Flower, and all the other denizens of the FDR era classic.
Depth of Field is also in Disney revival mode for Pinocchio, the Robert Zemeckis take on the beloved tale of wooden puppet who becomes a real boy with the help of the Blue Fairy. That project, like Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin, will be a hybrid of live-action performances and real-world sets that interact with digitally invented characters.
Disney’s immersive photo-realistic creations have vexed observers because they are neither fish now fowl — they don’t “look” like animation but they can’t rightly be called live-action when everything on the screen is conjured up by digital wizards.
Expect the debate to continue with the success of the approach. Jon Favreau’s The Lion King brought back $1.66 billion in global box office last year as a follow-up to his The Jungle Book in 2016 which piled up $966 million in worldwide box office.