There’s no denying that 2019 and beyond is going to be a banner year for Disney, and not just because they’re going to be releasing new films from their various in-house brands, like Pixar (Toy Story 4), Marvel (Avengers: Endgame), or Lucasfilm (Star Wars Episode IX). All of that is true, but they’re also going to be continuing to turn their classic animated films into live-action movies. In fact, they’ve released a new trailer for Aladdin, featuring footage of Will Smith as Genie and it’s awesome. Look for the film May 24.
As Will relayed to Entertainment Weekly, he did not take on the role originated (vocally at least) by the late Robin Williams lightly. “Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying,” he admits. “The question is always, ‘Where was there meat left on the bone?’ Robin didn’t leave a lot of meat on the bone with the character. [He] infused the character with a timeless version of himself. I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams, but was musically different.”
The most recent of Disney’s live action films to be announced is an adaptation of 1996’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which itself had been based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Josh Gad will be producing along with Mendeville Films, with David Henry Hwang, who won a Tony Award as the playwright of M. Butterfly, writing the screenplay. The music for the film will be composed by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.
In the film version, the disfigured but overall tender and sensitive Quasimodo (voiced by Tom Hulce), who serves as the bell-ringer of the Notre Dame Cathedral, is locked away in a tower, his only company being the gargoyles all around him. He sees the opportunity for much more when he encounters Esmeralda (Demi Moore), a gypsy, who he ultimately must prevent from falling into the hands of his evil guardian, Frollo (Tony Jay).
Deadline, the site that originally reported the news, comments, “The new film will pull from [the] 1996 animated film and the Hugo novel, but not the stage production that Schwartz and Menken collaborated on in Europe. David Hoberman, who runs Mandeville with Todd Lieberman, has been fixated on a live-action Hunchback for over 30 years going back to when he was Disney film president. An early attempt led to the animated film and another resulted in a limited TV series on ABC. Now it has come back around as a feature film, and while it is early and not on the Disney release calendar, Hunchback has some of the most storied players from the stage and musical realms.”
The next live-action Disney film will be Tim Burton’s Dumbo, a new teaser for which the studio recently released — check out the clip below!
— Walt Disney Studios (@DisneyStudios) December 31, 2018
This, of course, is only the beginning of what promises to be a long line of such adaptations, which is obviously thrilling fans. For many years, those animated classics entertained generations of fans, at first on the big screen, then on television broadcasts, and from there every form of home entertainment (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, streaming).
Then they realized that they could start producing made-for-video sequels to their classics, which worked tremendously well. So well, in fact, that someone asked, “Why should we stop there?” The idea was floated around that CG technology had come so far that they could transform those animated films into live-action adventures, and appeal to audiences all over again. And it’s an idea that’s worked beyond anyone’s imagination.
The live-action films we’ve had so far are 101 Dalmatians and its sequel, 102 Dalmatians (1996 and 2000, respectively), Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass (2010 and 2016, respectively); The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010, taken from a segment of Fantasia), Maleficent (2014, from Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Christopher Robin (from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh). In development (but without release dates) are Cruella (which is to star Emma Stone in the title role), Lilo & Stitch, The Little Mermaid and Snow White (who recently joined all the other Disney princesses in Ralph Breaks the Internet).
Beyond all of that, there are currently seven films in various stages of production (see below) which are promising to capture the magic of their inspiration. The big question will be whether or not those films will be able to branch off in some different and exciting original directions, or if they’ll be more or less scene-by-scene remakes of the animated counterparts (which, as wonderful as the Emma Watson/Dan Stevens version of Beauty and the Beast is, is not something that that particular film was able to overcome).
For an overall guide to what’s coming your way over the next couple of years — and there are definitely some potentially huge ones there — just scroll down!