Last week, Disney announced the delay of the studio’s upcoming live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, much to the delight of some fans who are hoping the film will eventually be scrapped entirely. Now, one Hollywood celebrity is taking the heat for Disney’s decision, and it isn’t actress Rachel Zegler.
On Friday, the top story of the afternoon was Disney’s decision to scrap the planned box office debut of its Snow White remake, titled Disney’s Snow White, as well as the company’s decision to get back to the basics with the Seven Dwarfs.
Disney Takes a Step Back
The theatrical release of the film, which was originally slated for March 22, 2024, has been postponed 364 days to March 21, 2025. While The Walt Disney Company’s official announcement included no information about the specific reasons for the postponement, many outlets cited the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike that began in mid-July and has since passed the 100-day mark.
Others suggest it’s related to the studio’s need for additional time in which to make changes associated with Disney’s late-in-the-game backtrack on its representation of the Seven Dwarfs–an element of the film that is as steeped in controversy as Disney’s decision to cast a Latina as the princess with “skin white as snow.”
A Hollywood Actor/Activist Takes a Stand
In early 2022, as news of Disney’s casting choices in the live-action remake of Snow White was first shared, controversy seemed to take over at every turn. Some were angry that Disney cast a Latina in the role of a princess whose very name is derived from the light complexion of her skin. Others took issue with the lead male role in the film having nothing to do with a prince.
Others, like actor Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones star who plays Tyrion Lannister in the HBO series, were angry over Disney’s decision–in his perception–to continue reinforcing stereotypes and stigmas associated with little people in the dwarfism community. According to Dinklage during an episode of the Marc Maron podcast, Disney’s take on its live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is “backward.”
“[Disney was] very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White,” Dinklage said on a podcast with Marc Maron. “But you’re still telling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Take a step back and look at what you’re doing there, you know? It makes no sense to me.”
Disney’s Dwarf Dilemma
Dinklage’s criticism made national headlines and prompted Disney to issue a statement in response, saying, “We are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community. We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period.” But only a day later, news about Disney’s decision to scrap the use of dwarfs altogether began to replace news of Dinklage’s rant.
According to MovieWeb, Disney made the decision not to use dwarfs in the film at all, choosing instead to use substitutes that the studio would only describe as “magical creatures:”
“Instead of dwarfs, Disney will fill the void with a group of what they describe as ‘magical creatures,’ according to casting sheets that TheWrap has seen. (They are currently looking for voice actors to give these creatures personality.) It’s unclear if they will inhabit the same roles as the [Seven] Dwarfs; will they be mining for jewels, will they have names like Sleepy, Grumpy, and Bashful–but these magical creatures will be the substitutes for the original seven dwarfs.”
Though some members of the dwarfism community were happy that Disney responded to the backlash, others were enraged with Dinklage’s comments, saying that his criticism took opportunities from them–opportunities that were already challenging to come by. Some went so far as to say that Dinklage doesn’t speak for the community as a whole, as evidenced by their clearly opposing viewpoints on the subject.
“With what Dinklage said and his comments, he’s taking dream roles away that were made and set in stone for seven dwarf actors–actors that dream of being in a Disney film,” explained actor Dylan Postl, a member of the dwarfism community, on ITV’s This Morning. “By being progressive in his mind and what he was trying to do and says he is trying to do, [he’s] really doing the opposite and taking dreams away and potential roles from seven dwarf actors–I think it’s a shame.”
Disney’s Decision Only Made Things Worse
While many classic Disney fans were thrilled about news on Friday that the studio had opted to produce the live-action Snow White with the Seven Dwarfs rather than the aforementioned “magical creatures,” others took issue with the fact that Disney hired only one actor for the Seven Dwarfs roles, and used CGI to fill in the other six dwarfs.
But instead of bashing Disney for the decision, many immediately laid the blame at Dinklage’s feet, saying he was behind the loss of six acting opportunities for members of the dwarfism community.
One user on X, formerly Twitter, posted, “You can lay this entirely at the feet of Peter Dinklage” with an image of the CGI-created Seven Dwarfs.
— Based Korben Dallas (@basedkorben) October 28, 2023
Another user named Amber equates seeing the live-action Snow White film to using the self-checkout lane at a retailer, noting that “real dwarves lost out on a paycheck thanks to CGI.” She goes on to say Dinklage for serving as a facilitator during the process.
Seeing the new Snow White in theaters would be the equivalent of using self checkout…………..Real dwarves lost out on a paycheck thanks to CGI.
Shame on Peter Dinklage for facilitating this. https://t.co/c9cEORGa9C
— Amber (@NYCdeb8tr) October 30, 2023
One More Reason to Stop the Remakes?
Twitter user @SurlyGirl criticized Disney–not for using CGI dwarfs, but for continuing to produce remake after remake. She ended by calling on Disney to get back to its own brand of originality and creativity.
“Peter Dinklage isn’t the problem,” she posted. “When is Disney going to understand not every beloved animated film needs to be (or even should be!) made into a live-action remake? Make an original movie already!”
Peter Dinklage isn’t the problem. When is Disney going to understand not every beloved animated film needs to be (or even should be!) made into a live-action remake? Make an original movie already! #SnowWhite pic.twitter.com/FMoq4ZdUgF
— Surly Girl (@debbles773) October 28, 2023
Whether moviegoers are fans of Disney’s seemingly endless stream of remakes or not, there’s no denying that the take-two attempts of nearly every original animated film by Disney are at the center of a growing number of controversies related to The Walt Disney Company. Over time, fans have to wonder whether it makes sense for Disney to continue down a path that seems to be increasingly fraught with controversy with each new live-action title.
Disney’s Snow White is directed by Marc Webb and stars Rachel Zegler (West Side Story), Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen, and Andrew Burnap. As of Friday, the film is slated for a theatrical release on March 21, 2025.