Remakes are nothing new in Hollywood, of course, but few studios have demonstrated quite as much commitment to the concept as Disney. While the studio had previously reimagined animated classics like 101 Dalmatians as live-action fare, it has kicked this approach into high gear with hit films such as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, and Cinderella. Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book is the latest example of the Mouse House returning to a proven franchise for a live-action remake.
While the studio has yet to attempt redemption for any of its worst efforts, a surprisingly high number of live-action remakes of its beloved animated archives is making its way to theaters in the next few years. Alice Through the Looking Glass and Pete’s Dragon will arrive this year, but let’s take a look at just a few upcoming films on Disney’s plate that are starting to gain traction.
1. Beauty and the Beast (set to hit theaters on March 17, 2017)
This Bill Condon-directed musical will attempt to offer a satisfying new take on the Oscar-winning 1991 animated version. Though the film is in for a challenge, its cast and pedigree certainly indicates a winner. Emma Watson plays Belle opposite Dan Stevens’s (The Guest) Beast and Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6) as Gaston. Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Kevin Kline, and Josh Gad round out the main supporting cast. Despite the popularity of the animated version, this film could prove to be as big a success, especially if it draws any inspiration from the stage version. With filming already complete, Beauty and the Beast could be even bigger than The Jungle Book at the box office.
[Update, 9/16/16: Added new trailer for live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ movie (see below).]
Tim Burton is attached to bring this 1941 animated classic to theaters, and following the $1 billion worldwide gross of his Alice in Wonderland, it’s no wonder why Disney wanted the filmmaker behind another of its projects. Development on Dumbo is still in the early stages, though Burton’s dark sensibility does seem to be a natural fit for this particular story. It’s unclear what aesthetic the film is targeting, but perhaps the same motion capture approach applied to The Jungle Book could work. After all, the Ringmaster is really the only major human character in the original Dumbo film.
Sure, Disney already made a live-action 101 Dalmatians back in 1996 (and a pointless sequel four years later). However, Disney villains don’t get much more memorable than Cruella de Vil. After Maleficent proved that presenting a well-known tale from the villain’s perspective is a formula that equals piles of profits, Disney applies that same approach here. Though we remain unsure how much a new film can bring to the character (after all, Glenn Close was pretty great in the role), there is one element of this project that has us intrigued: star Emma Stone.
4. Tinker Bell
After her appearance in Disney’s 1953 Peter Pan, Tinker Bell became something of an iconic character for Disney. Throughout the years, she’s popped up in promotional material and in brief cameos in films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit as an embodiment of that ineffable Disney magic. More recently, she’s served as the jumping-off point for a series of direct-to-DVD films centering on the Disney Fairies franchise. Reese Witherspoon is set to play the role in a live-action film for Disney, and the casting couldn’t be more perfect.
5. Peter Pan
Even though a solo Tinker Bell film is in the works, Disney has recently announced that it also has a live-action Peter Pan film in development. Last year’s Pan may have called the mainstream appeal of J.M. Barrie’s tale into question, but as Disney’s version remains one of the most popular, this film should be an easy success. It remains to be seen if this release and Tinker Bell will be connected as a sort of shared universe. Disney is taking a similar approach to a live-action Aladdin film and a prequel titled Genies. So we imagine this is indeed the case.
6. The Lion King
[Update, 9/28/16: Added news of live-action remake of ‘The Lion King’.]
Walt Disney has announced that director Jon Favreau will be helming a live-action remake of the classic animated movie The Lion King. Disney noted that, “Like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King will include songs from the animated film.” No release date has been announced yet.
7. Snow White
Snow White is the latest animated classic to jump on Disney’s live-action remake train. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Erin Cressida Wilson (The Girl on the Train) is in negotiations to write the screenplay, while songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land) will be working on some new songs. Although other studios have brought alternate live-action versions of the Snow White story to the screen before, such as Snow White and the Huntsman, this will be the first time Disney is remaking its original animated classic as a live-action feature film. No word yet on casting or a release date for the film.
Additional reporting by Nathanael Arnold
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