How Can We Modernize The Princess Diaries?

The past few years brought us a myriad of rumors about another sequel to the beloved 2001 Disney classic The Princess Diaries. In 2017, Anne Hathaway reported that there was already a script for The Princess Diaries 3 and that most of the talent behind the original including Queen Julie Andrews herself were interested in participating in the project. Of course, it's one thing for them to say they're interested and another for Disney to actually produce it, especially when they are already up to their eyeballs in sequels and remakes. The advent of Disney+ gives them a new platform for original content that makes the distribution of their smaller films easier and cheaper than worldwide theatrical releases. They are already taking advantage of this with several upcoming princess-related movies that will be exclusive to the new streaming platform. Whether or not The Princess Diaries 3 will be released in theaters remains to be seen, but it was announced last week that Disney+ has a Princess Diaries spin-off in the works that might just take its place entirely.


The new Princess Diaries spin-off and/or sequel is reported to be about a bi-racial teen who learns that she is Mia's half-sister and must claim her place as the newest Princess of Genovia. Wait, isn't that the same movie? In the age of no more original ideas in Hollywood, Disney has found a way to remake The Princess Diaries for a new generation while simultaneously keeping the same talent that everyone loves from the original. It's more or less what they did with The Little Mermaid 2, in which Ariel had a human daughter who made a deal with "Ursula's crazy sister" to become a mermaid and visit the unknown world of Alantica. While The Little Mermaid 2 was released a little over a decade after The Little Mermaid, it's already been nearly two decades since The Princess Diaries first hit the big screen. Times have changed, and princesses have become more independent. Plus, if you take into account the fact that Mia's father died two months before the events of The Princess Diaries and assume that the spin-off takes place in real-time, the new heroine can't possibly be younger than 19, and that's only if it drops on Disney+ this year. Chances are that the filmmakers will use some kind of movie magic to set the spin-off a few years in the past so they can hit their target age group.

In some ways, The Princess Diaries was ahead of its time, but in others, it was quite dated, which is something that the new movie will most likely address head-on. The makeover trope is very much a product of the late '90s and early 2000s. Today's starlets are all about flaunting their natural beauty, and makeup has become more of a personal choice than a requirement. The new Princess Diaries will probably not feature a scene in which our new Mia is forced to alter her natural hairstyle and buy contact lenses after her makeup artist breaks her glasses without apologizing. She will certainly get a pretty dress and tiara, but any other changes will be subtle and applied behind the scenes. There is also a high probability that she will not have a love interest. The Princess Diaries had a faux romantic comedy feel to it when Mia confides to her mother how she wants her foot to pop when she got her first kiss. The Princess Diaries 2, which had a lot of contradictory dialogue about how a queen shouldn't be required to marry, was even more of a rom-com with a story that focused almost entirely on Mia choosing a suitor. These days, princess movies like Moana try to avoid the love interest subplot entirely in order to really drive the point home.

I'm sure there are those of you who saw the subject of this post and worried that I would accuse The Princess Diaries of being outdated. That is not my intent. It was a fun movie that I liked a lot better than the book. I am simply trying to predict how Disney might treat this faux remake to be more relevant to today's audience. The bi-racial protagonist does not come as much of a surprise considering that Disney has not been subtle at all about their push toward more diversity. The Disney Channel sitcom Sydney to the Max, which features a bi-racial girl raised by a single white father is a good example of this. Though it's certainly believable that Mia's father shacked up with a woman of color before his untimely death, it does feel somewhat forced in terms of Disney's agenda. I'm sure many of us would prefer an entirely original story for the remake with a few subtle throwbacks.

At this time, Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is the most original title that Disney+ has to offer in the coming year. Yet, it continues to push the agenda of the super independent warrior princess who doesn't need a man to protect her. The spin-off of The Princess Diaries will likely be just as much a product of its time that will force Disney to modernize the story of an ordinary girl learning that she is actually a princess in the same way. Whether or not the spin-off and the anticipated Princess Diaries 3 sequel will be one and the same is anyone's guess. I'm sure there will be plenty of similarities between the new movie and the original, but it will also follow modern tropes that showcase how princess changed over the years. What do you hope to get out of a spin-off of The Princess Diaries with a new teen heroine? Let me know in the comments!

Comments

Anonymous said…
(Sorry if my writing is weird. English is not my first language)

I can see why Disney would want to make a sequel/spin off with a new, younger actress in the lead since they probably want to market it to a younger audience, while also drag the old fan-base along just because it has The Princess Dairies attached to it.
But to me that seems pretty pointless since I think the fan-base is strong enough to get pre-teens to watch it anyway. I can really see many mothers wanting to watch a third movie with their daughters.

Speaking of that, instead of giving Mia a half sister, why not a daughter? I think The Princess Diaries would be an interesting world to explore a mother and daughter relationship in. A mother who did not grow up in luxury, raising a daughter who is used to all the luxury? That would be interesting to explore.
And after that Disney could make a spin-off series about the daughter.

Now for the bi-racial protagonist.
I have absolutely nothing against that Disney wants to make more diverse content but like you said, the whole idea of Mia’s dad shacking up with a woman of colour just before he dies seems very forced. Shouldn’t Disney have learned by now that they don’t need to rely on a franchise to make diverse content?
But hey, it’s all about playing the safe card, right? That safe card really annoys me. Disney has the money. They have the platforms. They can afford taking risks.

Now for something else.
Yesterday I learned that a completely new stage musical of the tale of Cinderella has started its production. I thought that it would maybe interest you.
Here’s the Youtube channel and website.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEOt63LwPACnlwJtZs0hPYQ
https://andrewlloydwebberscinderella.com

Have a nice day!
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi, friend! First of all, your English is absolutely fantastic! I never would have known it wasn't your first language if you didn't tell me. That is an interesting idea about Mia having a daughter, but that would also make it feel even more like The Little Mermaid 2. I agree that a lot of Disney's recent projects have felt forced, and that's actually the topic of my next blog post.

Thank you so much for telling me about the new Cinderella musical! I had never heard of it before. I signed up on the website for updates. Personally, I don't think anything could compare to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, but I'd be willing to at least give it a chance.

Have a great day!
Anonymous said…
Hi again!
Thank you so much for the compliment on my English! It made me really happy! <3

I do agree that giving Mia a daughter could make it look a little like Little Mermaid 2. If they just did a reverse plot thing Im pretty sure that many would compare it to Little Mermaid 2.
I just think that The Princess Diaries would be a great franchise for mothers and daughters. But Disney will never turn it into that so… I better not dive to deep into this or it will just make me sad.
But I’m looking forward to you next post! <3

You’re very welcome!
The actress Carrie Hope Fletcher who will play this new Cinderella is also a Youtuber I’ve followed for many years, and I’m so happy to see her in this role since she’s always wanted to play a princess.

Have a nice day!
Lisa Dawn said…
Actually, I think mothers and daughters could be the next selling point for Disney because they're focusing more on relationships between strong women now than on romantic relationships. I think one of the reasons Frozen was so successful is because it focused more on two sisters than it did on romantic love. I recently heard from someone on Twitter that one of the reasons Disney's Gigantic was canceled was because it had a male protagonist and didn't go with their new image, so you might be onto something. Plus, princesses appeal just as much to adult women who grew up during the Disney Renaissance as they do to children, so maybe that will be the next big thing.

It's so great to hear that the actress playing Cinderella always wanted to play a princess! When I go to meet princesses at the Disney Parks, I can always tell which ones really want to be there and which ones don't. Even though they all act the same, it shows in the way they express themselves and interact with the guests. Laura Osnes, who played Cinderella in the Rodgers and Hammerstein revival, loved being a princess so much that she started the Broadway Princess Party, which I've seen her in twice now!
Anonymous said…
That’s interesting. I never thought before that mother and daughters could maybe be Disney’s next ‘thing’. It would be quit fun if I’ve just predicted something here.
We’ll have to see what the future brings.

I’ve never been to a Disney Park so I have no experience with princess actresses. But I do have experience with acting and I’ve played a lot of happy-smiley-pretty-cute characters (but never a princess which is quit funny) and it’s not for everyone.
I really would like to go to a "Princess event" someday. I could maybe make one myself someday just like Laura Osnes.
Lisa Dawn said…
Good luck! I have a friend who performs in musicals and dreams of becoming a Broadway actress someday as well.
Anonymous said…
Thank you very much! <3

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