This Christmas, Disney releases "Into The Woods," Rob Marshall's interpretation of Stephen Sondheim's musical about classic fairy tales including "Jack and Beanstalk" and "Rapunzel."
Disney isn't the only film distributor to cash in on retelling stories for a new generation—and the parents who take them to the movies. Warner Brothers' "Jack & the Giant Slayer" and "Red Riding Hood;" Universal Pictures' (part of NBCUniversal, parent of CNBC) "Snow White and The Huntsman;" and Paramount Pictures' "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" have all followed the trend since 2010.
With "Maleficent" grossing $757 million globally so far this year, Disney is likely to keep the trend going. It has future adaptations of "Cinderella" and "Jungle Book" set to be released in 2015. Rumored projects in development also include "Beauty and the Beast" and "Dumbo."
What's significant about these adaptations—both fairy tale and children's beloved stories—is the lengths Disney will go to reconfigure its original.
Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co, told CNBC via email about the relationship that Disney has with fairy tales as a never-ending one.
"Every generation has been brought up on these films, so adapting them from animated to live-action is appealing not only from a monetary standpoint but to lure new generations," Bock said. "The success of 'Maleficent,' and likely 'Cinderella' this spring, is a huge reason why these adaptations will continue. And the fact is, outside of Disney, fairy tales haven't done too well except for Universal's 'Snow White and the Huntsman.' There is definitely something about that Disney magic!"
And it's not just the format that has changed in these recent films. In "Maleficent," "Oz, The Great and Powerful," and "Alice in Wonderland," Disney has changed the main character, period, and even the classic ending.
Dr. Elizabeth Dearnley, a research associate at the School of European Languages, Culture and Society, told CNBC via email that "several recent versions challenge our perceptions of which characters are the heroes and which are the villains. This can partly be traced back to the idea of fairy tales being subversive; the kaleidoscope of story elements can always be shaken again to bring out a fresh meaning."
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