I know I harp on new versions but bear with me for this post. I have too many thoughts and feelings. Sorry this got a little too long, scroll to end of the post for TLDR
I used to think that for content any new version of Hunchback regardless of its quality was a good thing. A new notable movie or TV show adaptation with a wide release would mean more current content and hopefully views, that’s always the hope.
Since this blog started WAY back in very late 2010 there hadn’t been a new movie/TV adaptation since 1999 which isn’t a well known France version and I can’t honestly speak to its lasting impact. Prior to that it would be 1997 TV adaptation with Mandy Patinkin and Salma Hayek. And again it doesn’t have the same cultural significance as the version that came out the year before which is the Disney version. The Disney movie is the de facto movie version along with the 1923 Lon Chaney film. The 1939 and 1956 are both highly regarded but really only for movie buffs or Hunchback completionists.
In the intervening years between the Disney version and now, multiple movie and tv versions have been announced and then quietly canceled.
However the one “version” that did get announced and released since 1996, the one that broke the 27 year gap between versions, or 24 year if you want count the 1999 version, was Quasi. A version that is only nominally a version (you can read my review of it here). At at best it’s pseudo-sequel of Hunchback. However it’s really a lie, it’s has as little to do with anything similar to the source material or any other version. They could have easily name drop a character even by their job title. Like a line about Quasi having a crush on a dancing girl would have been at least something.
Quasi gave me an existential crisis. After over a decade of nothing (aside from musicals) this what came out? Then to pile on, not long after Quasi came out there was the “news” about Disney getting cold feet about their Hunchback live-action remake.
When Disney first really started getting into the trend of live-action remakes I thought it was a forgone conclusion that they would give Hunchback the same treatment. In 2019 it was announced that they were going remake it with Josh Gad. And then Menken recently said the project was in limbo. There seems to be some dispute on “Hellfire” though that could have been an example that Menken offered and there is more issues that not being reported. Prior to this Gad had alluded to the hope that the ‘powers that be” letting them make the movie in a way that the original movie deserves. Seems like the executives and the creatives have differing opinions on how this movie should be handled.
Disney has always been blind about Hunchback. Many have mused that they marketed the film all wrong which focused on the “Topsy Turvey” number and the gargoyles making it seem fun and bright for kids and while for it’s for kids, it’s not the typically Disney fare. Then there is what happen with the musical and Disney not being clear about the reason it didn’t go to Broadway. The darker tones and social commentary doesn’t fit neatly into Disney’s brand. It seems the don’t mind dipping their toes in it but the original Disney movie was a too deep a plunge.
Disney hasn’t officially scarped the live-action Hunchback version yet but the live-action remake format does seem to be getting old. Some people like the new takes on the older movies but many more do not. And the Disney remakes are a whole other can of worms/discourse.
So as of now I’m of two minds. I loathed that Quasi was the version that got made and I loathe that Disney is trying is trying to pull out the remake. Good or bad I wanted that remake. At least that was back in 2019 which feels like a different era for multiple reasons. Since the Hunchback remake announcement in January 2019 there had been only 8 remakes in this tread cycle not including the 3 prior to 2010. Since January 2019 there has been 10 remakes to come out. On average these 10 movies have a Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score of 57% with an audience score of 65% and a Metacritic critics’ score of 53 and Metacritic user of 4.6/10 on average as this post. (I hope my math checks out)
The feelings of the live-action remakes differs for person to person, movie to movie. Some love the new takes and others don’t think they hold a candle to original animated movie as Disney just doesn’t understand the original animated movies. Of course this could be the result of fairytale sentimentality not working in the meta-modern film landscape. Also what works in animation does not work in live action as they are different film mediums and Disney should take different fairytales, or myths or folktales and make those into live action movies. There are plenty live-action fairytale movies out there for inspiration. But that method would be more of a risk for company and they do like the tried and true even if the onset of the Disney Renaissance proved antithetical to that way of thinking.
Given the state of the trend of live action remakes maybe it’s a good thing if Disney is forgoing Hunchback for now but in the same beat I do hate that a very bad non-version even got made. And there it is! I no longer want a “new” version simply for its existence. Just for content fodder. Realistically Quasi should not counted as version but that was it was promoted so it is sadly part of the conversation.
I do want a new version done with some earnest endeavor but if that is not to be then so be it. I will be grateful for the versions that already exist. The ones we have right now, the good parts and the bad parts, I am content with them. Perhaps I will revisit them because as I said things have changed.
TLDR- I used to want new version of Hunchback just to have a new version, quality didn’t matter because content. But with Disney get cold feet regarding the Hunchback remake and the Disney live action remake trend floundering (no pun intend) mixed with how bad 2023’s Quasi was and just the world and life changing I longer want that. I’d rather have a good solid well-crafted version than a bad or lazy version just for content or just for something new. Instead I will be grateful for all the versions we have right now, the good parts and the bad parts.Follow thehunchblog