Punters who specialise in the Academy Awards know that it can sometimes pay to take a chance on a long-shot contender in the Best Picture market, particularly at this early stage of the year, with the Oscars still ten months away. And one of the outsiders that, on paper at least, ought to be in with a shout, is Tim Burton’s live action take on Dumbo.
Based on the story portrayed in the 1941 original, this is one of four Disney live action releases originally slated for 2019, following the relative success of Cinderella (2015) The Jungle Book (2016) and Beauty And The Beast (2017). Another eagerly-awaited live action Disney contender, The Lion King has also appeared in some bookmakers lists for Best Picture betting, but whereas The Lion King is generally available at less then 20/1, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power rate Dumbo a 50/1 shot.
That might be a surprise to some, given the credentials of those associated with this movie. A cast list that includes Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, Eva Green and Alan Arkin suggests plenty of box office appeal and critical potential, and the story of the lovable elephant with the enormous ears is a familiar and well-loved tale. One reason for the long odds is that Disney movies, whether animated or live action, don’t have any record of success in the Best Picture category.
The other barrier to success for Dumbo is more significant. The movie was released at the end of March, but a combination of indifferent marketing and a lukewarm critical response resulted in a disappointing box office performance, and unless there is a sudden and dramatic reversal of critical opinion on the movie, it is hard to see how Tim Burton’s remake can challenge the likes of Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman (3/1) or Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat (4/1) for Oscars glory.