By now, most people should be familiar with Disney’s first PG-rated film that flirted with the notion of CGI. That film was none other than 1985’s The Black Cauldron.
The film only received mixed reviews from critics and bombed at the box office, making only $21 million at the box office on a budget of about $44 million.
The movie saw a young pig-keeper named Taran who is instructed by his master Dallben to flee with the pig Hen Wen after realizing that The Horned King is looking for the animal understanding that the pig is able to locate the Black Cauldron, which could revitalize the undead and create an invincible army.
Obviously, that sounds way too close to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The themes and visual style certainly hearken back to that era and landscape, but I’m not here to talk about the similarities between the two films. While we’ve previously discussed some animated titles worthy of the live-action treatment, I’m here to talk about why The Black Cauldron specifically would be a worthy film for Disney to pursue for live-action.
And it honestly only boils down to one thing…
Much like the David Lynch film Dune which failed to impress audiences at the time of its initial release, Denis Villeneuve revamped the film to a more technologically advanced film that was deemed more relatable to audiences.
In that same vein, The Black Cauldron was somewhat campy at the time of its release in 1985 that didn’t mix CGI with 2D animation as evenly as the filmmakers had hoped.
However, given that it is 2023 and the technology has jumped lightyears ahead, perhaps remaking this film is the success that Disney needs. Since the 1985 film was not a success, revamping some tech and changing around a few plot threads and characters with a more compelling twist could make the remake a huge success by doing something better.
The film could easily be Disney’s version of Lord of the Rings, especially with its fantastic themes and characters. Not only would it benefit greatly from the tools modern filmmakers have at their disposal, but it would also benefit from the greater interest there is in these niche mythological epics.
This is a story that just deserves to be told on a greater scale. Many of the live-action remakes have been given derision by critics by taking something that already worked and trying to retool it which hasn’t always been positive. I don’t agree with the assessment, but remaking a film that hasn’t done well or is very well-remembered opens the door for a brand new generation to fall in love with the lore.
Long story short, if it can work for Dune, it can work for The Black Cauldron.