(Welcome to Classically Contemporary, a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.)

In 1941, in the midst of World War II, the Walt Disney Studios put out a movie about a little elephant with big ears. Dumbo was the savior of the Disney Company at the time, swooping in to save them after a huge financial loss after their experimental musical, Fantasia, the year prior. The film became Disney’s biggest hit of the 1940s, producing an iconic moment with the sweetly tempered “Baby Mine” sequence. With 78 years passed, it’s time to remake Dumbo, at least according to Disney, and Tim Burton’s feature owes more to the circus worlds of his own films (Big Fish) and the studio era than it does to its predecessor.

Somewhat similarly to the original, the film follows a playful pachyderm named Dumbo whose large ears give him the ability to fly. He’s helped in his quest to rescue his mother by the precocious Millie Farrier (Nico Parker), a budding scientist, and her father, former cowboy star, Holt (Colin Farrell).

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Dumbo Box Office

When Disney brings a new movie based on one of their classics to theaters, you can bet they’re going to take the top spot at the box office. That’s especially true when the only real competition is holdovers from the previous weeks. But in this case, even though Disney’s live-action remake of Dumbo soared to the top spot with $45 million, it didn’t quite match the expectations put forth by the studio and analysts.

Meanwhile, Jordan Peele’s Us and the Avengers: Endgame predecessor Captain Marvel are still riding their own waves of box office success.  Read More »

Avengers Endgame - Chris Hemsworth as Thor

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, watch the third and final video essay in a series about the limitations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Plus, watch as Dumbo director Tim Burton and his costume designer Colleen Atwood break down an exquisite scene from the Disney remake, and listen as the Fab Five from Netflix’s Queer Eye answer the web’s most searched questions about them. Read More »

10 Things I Hate About You Comparison

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, check out a comparison between the 1999 teen romantic comedy 10 Things I Hate About You and the classic story that inspired it. Plus, learn about the origins and things you might not know about the beloved animated series Futurama, and listen as Dumbo co-stars Colin Farrell and Danny DeVito answer the web’s most searched questions about them. Read More »

dumbo

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with producer Justin Springer and screenwriter/producer Ehren Kruger about their new film, director Tim Burton’s live-action remake of Dumbo.

During the chat, we talked about the challenges in adapting Dumbo for modern audiences, the progressive animal rights message of the film, making a remake and a sequel at the same time, the possibility of a connected live-action Disney universe, inspiration from Walt Disney’s Disneyland, and more, including updates on Tron 3, which Springer has been developing for years.

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dumbo trailer

Some stories are best left as they are. This is a fairly unavoidable takeaway from Tim Burton’s unnecessary live-action/CG remake of the Disney animated classic Dumbo. Though not remotely as noxious and garish as his 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland, Burton has not solved the puzzle of figuring out a halfway decent creative reason for this film to exist. An A-list cast, high budget, and all the other trappings of a modern blockbuster can’t get this thing off the ground.

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dumbo easter eggs

Since the animated musical Dumbo hit theaters in 1941, the lovable, big-eared elephant has become an iconic Disney mascot, as recognizable as Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. That can be partially attributed to Dumbo’s outsized presence at Disney Parks, with the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride becoming a longtime hallmark of Disneyland, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. But the original 1941 animated film also holds a special place in Disney fans’ hearts, not just for the heart-wrenching effect of the film’s famous “Baby Mine” scene, but for Dumbo‘s bolder, weirder sequences, like the trippy pink elephants.

Tim Burton‘s Dumbo pays homage to all of this and more. The film has to fly high while carrying the baggage of expectations before it, but producers Derek Frey and Justin Springer, as well as costume designer Colleen Atwood, told journalists during a visit to the set of Dumbo that this will only make the live-action adaptation soar more.

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dumbo circus performers

“The unique thing about making a movie is making a sort of circus anyway,” Dumbo producer Justin Springer told us and a group of journalists on the set visit to the Disney live-action movie. But Dumbo takes that circus to a whole new level.

The Tim Burton-directed movie has a fantastical bent to it, a “storybook” approach to 1919 that’s seen in the anachronistic elements and the lavish settings. But there’s still a more grounded feeling to Dumbo that Burton and producers Springer and Frey wanted to bring with the involvement of real-life circus performers in the film. Because Dumbo may be a CGI elephant that can fly with the help of his oversized ears, but at least everyone around him can abide by the laws of physics.

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Dumbo early buzz

Tim Burton has largely built his career making movies about societal outcasts, and he’ll be back with the story of another outcast later this month in Dumbo, his second live-action remake of a Walt Disney animated film. The earliest reactions have arrived, so read on to get a sense of what critics are saying about Burton’s latest cinematic spectacle. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Dumbo Clip

Dumbo soars into theaters later this month, and will likely give Disney another box office victory after the outstanding performance by Captain Marvel this past weekend. However, there are probably some viewers out there who need a little bit of convincing to head out for yet another live-action remake of a Disney classic. That’s why Disney is starting to make their big marketing push with the release of the first Dumbo clip, showing off the cute little blue-eyed, floppy-eared baby elephant. There’s also a new featurette going behind the scenes of the extravagant circus set. Read More »