With a new “Aladdin” movie soaring into theaters at the end of May, Disney continues to turn their popular animated movies into live action films for a new generation. Earlier this year, the company released a live action version of Dumbo and next year “Mulan” will get the same makeover.
“Disney movies are known to be something everyone can enjoy. It’s a multi-generation experience, and now an older generation gets to share that with their children,” said Amber Hutchins, associate professor of Communication at Kennesaw State University.
Hutchins, who studies fandom and participatory culture, says there is no bigger fan community than those who love Disney.
So, what makes Disney so popular and their fans so loyal?
“Disney is the gold standard in fan appreciation and serves as a model for how other fan-based organizations should interact with consumers to build their following.”Amber Hutchins, associate professor of Communication at Kennesaw State University
Offering what she calls an “extended narrative immersion,” Hutchins says that by providing a variety of ways for fans to interact with their world, Disney is able to strengthen the connection between the fan and the company.
But Disney does something that Hutchins suggests is unique to the media company: they allow their fans to be a part of the experience.
“It has to be a conversation with fans, not just this one-way targeted marketing,” she said. “Disney recognizes that and has embraced it.”
Hutchins says that the company encourages fan-run websites detailing hidden scenes in movies and podcasts discussing the latest Disney news.
This type of relationship has helped Disney avoid the cash grab reputation that has plagued other film remakes, she argues.
“Because of the care they have taken to build these relationships with their fan community, most of Disney’s movies are seen as authentic tributes, not just a get-rich-quick plan,” Hutchins says.
For now, the fans remain supportive of Disney’s newest remakes, and with a variety of avenues available, including Star Wars and Marvel properties, Disney has shown no signs of slowing down to appeal to its fans.
“It’s Disney’s world, we just live in it,” Hutchins says.