Disney has captured our imagination for decades, and continues to find new ways to return to stories that defined the studio. The company’s current strategy is revisiting animated classics such as CINDERELLA, SLEEPING BEAUTY, and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in live-action and photorealistic CG remakes.
The success of recent films like THE JUNGLE BOOK and MALEFICENT means those movies will be getting sequels, establishing a whole new run of Disney stories. Meanwhile, the Mouse House is hard at work on a whole slate of live-action retellings of some of its most beloved classics. Let’s take a look at all the remakes currently in development.
DUMBO arrives on March 29, 2019, but don’t expect a direct adaptation of the animated original. This movie follows Holt (Colin Farrell), a war veteran hired by circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) to look after Dumbo, a baby elephant with abnormally large ears. Holt enlists the help of his two children to take care of Dumbo. The trio forge a strong bond with the elephant and they soon realize that he can use his ears to fly. The baby elephant becomes a star, attracting the attention of a villainous businessman named V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton). DUMBO is directed by Tim Burton, who’ll surely bring his distinctive charm to the story.
ALADDIN flies into theaters on May 24, 2019. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the movie stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine, Will Smith as the Genie and Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. In the 1992 animated film, Aladdin is a young thief who falls in love with a princess named Jasmine. Aided by a genie trapped inside a lamp, Aladdin and Jasmine join forces to fight the power-hungry Grand Vizier Jafar. It remains to be seen how close this adaptation will adhere to the source material, but the movie is expected to feature songs from 1992’s ALADDIN alongside new material written by composer Alan Menken.
The Lion King
OK, so this one isn’t strictly live-action, but the film’s CG animation is so realistic as to appear like real animals star in the movie. THE LION KING arrives on July 19, 2019. Jon Favreau, who previously helmed 2016’s THE JUNGLE BOOK remake, directs from a script by Jeff Nathanson (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES). According to VFX supervisor Rob Legato, cutting-edge techniques have been employed to bring the animal kingdom to life. THE LION KING boasts an impressive cast that includes Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones, Billy Eichner, and Seth Rogen. The original music is also a big part of the film, so expect to sing along to ‘Hakuna Matata’ in the theater.
MULAN opens on March 27, 2020. This remake of Disney’s 1998 animated epic is directed by Niki Caro (THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE) and stars Liu Yifei as Mulan. Similar to DUMBO, MULAN is taking some liberties with its source material to craft a fresh take on the heroine and her world. Expect to see brand new characters, such as Mulan’s sister (played by Xana Tang), Mulan’s love interest, Chen Honghui (Yoson An), and a villain named Bori Khan (Jason Scott). The movie also features Jet Li as the Emperor of China and Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Mulan’s mentor.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The bells of Notre Dame are ringing again! In early 2019 Disney put development into motion on a live-action remake of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang was hired to write the script, based on the 1831 Victor Hugo novel and Disney’s animated musical from 1996. He’s not alone, either. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the music for that ’96 version (and got an Oscar nomination for doing so!) are coming back for this live-action re-do. Josh Gad is a producer on the remake, which immediately led to speculation that he might play the title character, but no cast announcements have been made. Initial reports say this project is queued behind LADY AND THE TRAMP and MULAN, so we might not see it until at least 2021.
Lady And The Tramp
LADY AND THE TRAMP is one of the projects Disney is developing for its upcoming streaming service. Written by Andrew Bujalski and directed by Charlie Bean, the CGI/Live-action hybrid is set to star Tessa Thompson as the voice of Lady, Justin Theroux as the voice Tramp, Yvette Nicole Brown as Aunt Sarah, and Kiersey Clemons as Darling, Lady’s owner. No release date is set, but with Disney’s streaming service launching in late 2019, it shouldn’t be long until audiences are able to see it.
The Sword In The Stone
Like LADY AND THE TRAMP, SWORD IN THE STONE will be released exclusively on Disney’s streaming service. Arthur, Merlin and his trusty owl Archimedes will return in the film directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 WEEKS LATER) and written by Bryan Cogman (GAME OF THRONES). Like the animated 1963 version, expect this retelling to present a family-friendly (but not necessarily accurate) take on the Arthurian mythology.
A PINOCCHIO remake has been in the works for quite some time. Sam Mendes was initially set to direct, but he eventually stepped away and was replaced by Paul King, director of the two wonderful PADDINGTON films. King will work from a script by Jack Thorne (WONDER). While details regarding PINOCCHIO’s plot and characters are scarce, it shouldn’t be too long until we learn more about the film, as producer Chris Weitz says production is expected to kick off at some point in 2019.
Cruella de Vil is arguably one of Disney’s most popular baddies, so it’s no surprise to Disney lining her up to headline a movie. Since 2016, Disney has been working on a live-action Cruella de Vil film written by Kelly Marcel (SAVING MR. BANKS). Expect the film to explore Cruella’s younger years, with Emma Stone attached to play the villainous fashionista. In late 2016, Alex Timbers, best known for co-creating MOZART IN THE JUNGLE, was in talks to direct.
The Little Mermaid
Get ready to sing and dance with Ariel and Flounder once again. Jane Goldman wrote the script for this musical re-imagining of the 1989 underwater adventure. Lin-Manuel Miranda, a fan of the animated original, is writing new songs for the movie alongside legendary composer Alan Menken. A director hasn’t been officially announced, but Rob Marshall, who helmed INTO THE WOODS and MARY POPPINS RETURNS, has been reported as Disney’s top choice to direct the film.
SNOW WHITE is in development with a script written by Erin Cressida Wilson (GIRL ON THE TRAIN). Like CINDERELLA and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, SNOW WHITE won’t follow its animated precursor beat for beat, but will expand upon the original plot of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. Of course, a proper Snow White film needs a charming musical repertoire. To that end, Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, songwriters for LA LA LAND, are writing new songs for the movie. No director is currently attached to the project, however.
We’ll also see an expansion of Snow White’s world, as Disney is working on a Rose Red movie, written by Justin Merz and reworked by Evan Daugherty (DIVERGENT and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES). The film focuses on Snow White’s sister, Rose Red, who goes on a quest, alongside the Seven Dwarfs, to save her sister after she falls ill from biting the poisoned apple. Rumors say Brie Larson has been approached to star. Nothing has been confirmed so far, however, and it remains unclear whether this project will tie into the aforementioned SNOW WHITE movie.
David Lowery, who remade PETE’S DRAGON for Disney, has been contracted to direct a new Peter Pan film. He’s co-writing with Toby Halbrooks, but we don’t know much about their take. The original film is mainly told through the perspective of Wendy, Michael, and John, three siblings who’re taken to Neverland by Peter Pan. The trio helps Peter battle Captain Hook, who’s hellbent on getting revenge on the boy who never grows up. No release date is set for PETER PAN.
We know everything about Peter Pan, but what about Tinker Bell? Development on the live-action TINK was revealed in 2015, with Reese Witherspoon to star as the fairy. The film, written by Victoria Strouse (FINDING DORY), is expected to dive into Tinker Bell’s previously unexplored history. It’s important to point out that this project doesn’t seem to be connected to the Peter Pan remake currently in the works. Updates on the project have been minimal since it was first revealed, so it remains to be seen when it could hit theaters.
Don’t expect this to be your typical fairy tale movie. Written by Stephen Chbosky (THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, and WONDER), PRINCE CHARMING aims to take a new view of the title character by looking at the idealized royal through the eyes of his less-successful brother. Not much is known about the film at the moment, and a release date has yet to be announced, but its unique premise makes it a promising addition to Disney’s live-action slate.
Check back with AMC for Disney updates as news arrives!