I was hoping to stay away from this discussion but this statement really caught my eye. If you truly believe that humour isn't the main draw in animated films today then you're either in denial or running out of reasons to support your argument. Shrek, Madagascar, Over the Hedge, Ice Age, Kung-Fu Panda... You really think these films drew audiences because of their emotional weight? And to say that Beauty and the Beast would have the same effect now is simply not true. Firstly, traditional animation looks dated compared to CG which is the main turn off for children. Secondly, in the 20 years between that film and now there has been a degradation of innocence in family films and a strong tendency towards comedy over pathos. Finally, the musical has fallen largely out of favour since the mid-90s and the occasional success of films like Moulin Rouge and Chicago have merely proven to be the exception, not the rule.But what one Earth makes you think different audiences means more slapstick and whacky humor and a new, funny title? What makes you think audiences wouldn't want another Beauty and the Beast? If that serious, dramatic film came out now instead of back then...it would still be smash. If mainly by word of mouth, so be it.
Even if one looks at Pixar's films, as brilliant as they are, there is no denying that there is an overt "cartoony-ness" that features far more prominently in CG than hand-drawn animation. Even Up, for all of its emotional complexity, fails to come close to the dramatic seriousness and maturity of The Lion King, Pocahontas or the Hunchback of Notre Dame. This is not to say that CG is incapable, merely that Toy Story was both a gift and a curse in that it opened the gates for second rate studios to throw up pretty visuals at expense of the story. With the success of the comedy toon and the realisation that they didn't have to copy the Disney formula, these studios have been able to establish a new market for kids who no longer have to turn to Disney for entertainment. Consider the films that attempted to compete with Disney during the 90s. Thumbelina, Fern Gully, Titan A.E.; box office disappointments which failed to steal away the Disney audiences because they attempted to replicate the Disney formula. And coincidentally, these films weren't billed as comedies either. But then a switch to CG comedies and... low and behold, a new market is born.
This entire basis behind this debate has reached an absurd level. So certain people don't like the title. Neither do I. Life goes on. Disney has not said screw you to its fans, it's changed a title. Get over it.