This probably doesn’t come as a surprise for anyone who pays attention to Hollywood, but Disney is planning a sequel to last year’s successful fairy tale revision Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie. Disney has a reputation for endless remakes, reboots, revisions, and revivals, rather than taking chances on original material — not that one can blame them much with flops like Tomorrowland. But this project is still a bit of an eyebrow raiser given how much of that film’s success rode on its star, and that star has insisted she’s going to retire from acting in order to focus on work behind the camera.
Deadline reports that Disney has hired a screenwriter for the sequel to Maleficent. The publication said that Disney is “keeping Jolie in the loop” and the sequel is being written for her to reprise her role as the misunderstood villain from Sleeping Beauty.
Maleficent and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland are the two Disney films credited with starting the company’s feminist revisionist take on fairy tales trend. Both featured huge stars, Johnny Depp in the case of the latter, both were based on material from Disney’s animated classics which were themselves based on classic literature, and both put a twist on their stories to give the female characters more agency and more fleshed-out backstories. Most importantly, both movies made a ton of money. Maleficent cost $180 million to make and went on to make $758 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo. Alice in Wonderland cost $200 million to make and grossed over $1 billion worldwide.
This has kicked off a revisionist remake trend with Disney’s fairy tale properties. While this spring’s Cinderella stayed a bit closer to the original than the previous two films, it still gave the Cinderella character more of a real life than she gets in the animated film. The company is also planning live-action versions of Beauty and the Beast and Mulan, both animated princess movies from the ‘90s that fall towards the feminist end of the spectrum and Disney is likely hoping will appeal to a similar audience as Maleficent.
What’s more risky is planning a Maleficent sequel when the film’s only draw, a witch Jolie in horns and cheek prosthetics, might not come back to do it. Jolie recently told DuJour magazine that she “absolutely” plans to give up acting, adding “I’ve never been comfortable as an actor; I’ve never loved being in front of the camera.”
She later clarified those remarks to Entertainment Weekly by saying she has a few more projects on the horizon before she steps behind the camera, rather than in front of it, for good. “I see myself moving into directing more and doing much less as an actor,” she said. “I have a few more in me, ones I have been developing for some time, so I will do those before I step away.”
Upcoming projects for Jolie include her next directorial effort By the Sea, which she co-stars in with husband Brad Pitt. She’s also rumored to be starring in the sequel to the spy thriller Salt and is reprising her voice role in the third Kung Fu Panda film. Disney is definitely hoping that Maleficent 2 will make the cut for movies she’s willing to do before giving up acting to direct.
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