Musical resurgence in film: top Disney live-action remakes to catch

Catching a great film is still one of the best things to do when you have some spare time. The best films not only take us away to somewhere better but also make us laugh, cry, cheer and everything in between. Of course, everyone loves a good musical too, which means that any film based on a musical is a great idea. Sometimes, films are so successful that they are made into musicals themselves afterwards for people to catch live.

Of course, the popularity of musical theater with the general public has never gone away. You only have to look at the Louise Gund produced Fiddler on the Roof to see this. The amazing songs in this top theater success really helped audiences get into the story. What has changed a little recently though is how successful musicals have seen a real resurgence in modern filmmaking.

This has led to filmmakers starting to produce movies based on musicals more and more. Disney has really ramped this up by remaking some of its most well-loved stories as live action versions, based on the popularity of the musical versions of them. While not all of them worked out amazingly well, some did and contain awesome music to make them more enjoyable.

Here are some of the best to check out the next time you need a fun night in.

The Jungle Book

Perhaps the best live action Disney remake to date was this 2016 cracker. It is also proof of a real musical resurgence in film, as the original 1967 film had been turned into many successful theater productions in the intervening years. The best compliment that you can give it is that it actually improves on the original in many ways. Directed by Jon Favreau, it follows the same story as the original tale but somehow makes it more riveting and touching. Most of this is naturally down to the music and songs included, but the awesome CGI effects play their part too. Lead actor Neel Sethi is super as Mowgli and his central performance helped the film gross $966m worldwide when released.


From the 1957 Rodgers and Hammerstein production to the 2013 Broadway show, this is a story that has been seen widely in theater. It was also one that inspired an original Disney film that was remade in 2015 to great effect. Although this is a well-told story, the verve and sensitivity with which it is retold here makes it fabulous. Lily James is perfect in the lead role, while Cate Blanchett’s wicked stepmother never fails to delight. A witty and touching reboot, it is not only ideal for kids but also adults. It also manages to use the music within the film to not only add a fresh feel but also help move the story along at key points.

Pete’s Dragon

When looking at the way that musicals are seeing a real resurgence in modern films, Pete’s Dragon is a great example. Taking its cue from the 1977 musical film by Disney of the same name, this live action remake is both sad and touching. It tells the story of a bond between a boy and his dragon in a low-key yet gripping way. Released in 2016, it uses CGI effects well, and the dragon in particular looks very realistic. Although this may be too sad for younger children, it is a pleasingly grown-up Disney story taken from the theater that sticks with you.

The Lion King

When it comes to films being inspired by musicals, The Lion King is a fantastic example. Although the original Disney film was out before its musical brother, the number of people who enjoyed it live was sure to have prompted Disney to make this modern screen version. Released in 2019, the CGI work looks very realistic and adds a real depth to the movie. Sticking close to the well-loved tale of Simba and his struggles, it shows just how a popular musical can prompt an even better film. Having said that, the musical version of The Lion King is still a must-see too!

Musicals and film combine well

What the above shows is that musicals are really starting to influence filmmaking again in a big way. Although all the live-action remakes we looked at were Disney original films first, it is the impact of their subsequent musical productions that gave many of them real life and popularity. With the musical’s the ability to add pizazz, energy and fun to any production, it is easy to see why so many more studios are looking to them for inspiration now. This is set to great news for film fans, who can look forward to even more superb musical-inspired blockbusters to catch in the near future.

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