In the mood for nostalgia and good news? We've got it here in our Cineworld blog list of Disney's upcoming live-action remakes.
By now, the studio has established a track record of box office success by dusting off animated family classics and giving them a bit of sparkle and polish. This usually involves a reinstatement of the original songs and score, combined with several big-name A-listers and big-budget CGI gloss to give everything a spectacular sheen.
This trend has worked wonders in the likes of The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. And Disney aren't stopping any time soon. Scroll down for the lowdown on the Disney hits that will very soon be getting the live-action treatment.
La La Land Oscar winner Emma Stone steps into the furs of iconic Disney villain Cruella de Vil in this prequel/origin story. Set before the events of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, this seventies-set tale will explore how Cruella rose to power to become the feared, puppy-hating fashionista.
Reportedly, a character played by Emma Thompson named The Baroness is critical in transforming young fashion designer Cruella into a cackling baddie. Behind the camera is I, Tonya's Craig Gillespie, himself a veteran of Disney live-action movies having helmed Million Dollar Arm and Their Finest Hours.
The supporting cast includes Mark Strong, Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry, while there's a credited role for Emily Beecham as Anita. How, exactly, will this link up with the story seen in the beloved Disney animation?
We'll find out when Cruella is released on 26th May 2021. And if you need more convincing, here's a shot of Stone looking fierce in her furs.
Here’s your first look at Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil in Disney’s Cruella. The film, also starring Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, and Joel Fry, comes to theaters May 28, 2021. #D23Expo pic.twitter.com/fvRntdIVar— Disney (@Disney) August 24, 2019
2. The Little Mermaid
Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall promises to reinvent a jewel in the Disney animation crown. The Little Mermaid, released in 1989, is credited with kickstarting the 'Disney renaissance' period of the 1990s, emphasising lush animation, witty characters and the Broadway-aping songs of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.
This classic story of mermaid Ariel and her romance with landlubber Prince Eric is one of Disney's most beloved treasures. From the calypso-inflected 'Under the Sea' to the roster of scene-stealing characters such as fiendish sea witch Ursula, it's little wonder The Little Mermaid blew away the cobwebs of the studio's stagnant 1970s period.
It also presents Marshall and his cast and crew with a formidable challenge, as he criss-crosses live-action with CGI animation. Fortunately, he's got a talented cast on board, led by Halle Bailey as Ariel who is set to bring greater diversity and representation to the traditional Disney princess role. She's back up by Bridesmaids and Spy showstopper Melissa McCarthy as Ursula and Skyfall's Javier Bardem as King Triton while, in the CGI realm, Hamilton's Daveed Diggs voices Sebastian and Room's Jacob Tremblay voices Flounder.
Fuse all that with a script from Kick-Ass's Jane Goldman and the presence of original composer Alan Menken, and there's more than enough reasons to be optmistic. Filming was initially delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic so it's unclear when the movie will be released, although Menken has confirmed that the songs are recorded.
3. The Lion King 2
Released in July 2019, the remake of Disney's The Lion King was a roaring box office success. Buoyed by its gorgeous, photo-realistic CGI effects and starry voice cast, including Donald Glover as Simba and Beyonce Knowles-Carter as Nala, it grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
But was it a live-action movie or an animated one? While that debate continues to rage, it's been confirmed that original director Jon Favreau will hand the baton to Barry Jenkins for The Lion King 2. The critically acclaimed Moonlight helmer is set to dramatise the origins of Mufasa, Simba's proud father who famously meets a heart-wrenching end at the hands (paws) of his conniving brother Scar.
James Earl Jones voiced Mufasa in both the 1994 animation and the 2019 reboot, but given this will be a prequel, we imagine a younger actor will take over. Whether Chiwetel Ejiofor will reprise his voice role as Scar (he took over from the original movie's Jeremy Irons) remains to be seen. There's also no word yet as to whether composer Hans Zimmer, and songwriters Elton John and Tim Rice, will be back on board.
"Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters," Jenkins said. "Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true."
Disney's wisecracking take on Greek mythology may have rubbed purists up the wrong way, but it certainly charmed and entertained a whole generation of youngsters. To the sound of Alan Menken's Gospel-inflected score and songs, we accompanied Tate Donovan's ridiculously handsome Hercules as he battled the nefarious lord of the underworld, Hades.
The latter character is the most fondly remembered aspect of the movie, voiced with scene-stealing relish by James Woods. Now, the titular Hercules is set to go from zero to hero again in Disney's live-action movie, produced by Avengers: Endgame filmmakers the Russo brothers. Meanwhile, fellow Marvel alum Dave Callaham is on script duties – he's penned the screenplay for Marvel Phase Four movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
There are no details on casting, soundtrack or release date, so watch this space.
5. Lilo & Stitch
One of Disney's final hand-drawn animations, Lilo & Stitch is the story of an unusual and wonderful friendship. The eponymous Lilo is a lonely young Hawaiian girl who forms a bond with a stranded blue alien named Stitch. He's been sent to our planet to wreak destruction and chaos, but through his bond with Lilo he learns to embrace the traditional Hawaiian notion of 'ohana'. And learn about the music of Elvis Presley along the way.
The original film's hand-drawn approach allowed Stitch's irreverent craziness to pop off the screen, so we can only imagine how this will translate into the live-action realm. The Hollywood Reporter (THR) states that Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu will helm the Lilo & Stitch remake, with Aladdin remake producers Dan Lin and Jonathan Elrich also on board.
Mike van Waes will be writing the screenplay, although there's no word yet as to casting.
Back to the Future helmer Robert Zemeckis is set to tackle the timeless tale of the wooden puppet who longs to become a real boy. Disney's original animation, released in 1940, remains one of their most cherished and heartwarming fables, recounting the love between the enchanted marionette Pinocchio and his beloved owner/father Geppetto.
Zemeckis has long been a dab hand with whimsy and excitement, not just in the Back to the Future trilogy but also with 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The latter movie was a technical marvel, mixing live-action performance with animated cartoon characters to dazzling effect. Zemeckis' skill with special and visual effects sets him up well for the live-action Pinocchio movie, which will surely demand complex interplay between physical performance and CGI.
Back in August, Deadline stated that Zemeckis' regular collaborator Tom Hanks, with whom he's worked on Forrest Gump and Cast Away, was in talks to play Geppetto. Surely there is no-one better to embody the character's graciousness and warmth. The script will be co-written by About a Boy's Chris Weitz – and this isn't the only Pinocchio project on the go. The Shape of Water's Guillermo del Toro is also marshalling his own take on the material, a stop-motion animated movie featuring the voices of Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, Ron Perlman and more.
7. Snow White
Prior to its release in 1937, Disney animation Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was considered a monumental folly. Surely no-one would warm to the idea of a feature-length animated movie drawing on archetypal fairy tale mythology? At great personal and financial expense, Walt Disney ploughed on with the movie, and in so doing changed the course of cinema history.
All feature-length Disney movies owe themselves to this, the alternately charming and scary story of the innocent young girl left to die in the woods by an evil queen. From the frollicking whimsy of the titular dwarves to the hide-your-eyes menace of the queen's monstrous transformation into the witch, Snow White is seared onto the memories of children around the world.
At the 1939 Academy Awards, the scale of Disney's achievement was recognised via the presentation of an honourary Oscar. Young actor Shirley Temple presented Disney with a full-sized statuette and seven miniature ones, marking the moment where animation became artistically accepted in Hollywood circles.
So, remaking the movie in live-action form is clearly a tall order. News of such a movie first arrived in 2016, announced via The Hollywood Reporter who stated that The Girl on the Train screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson would pen the script. At the time, it was also reported that La La Land songwriters Pasek and Paul (prior to their later success with The Greatest Showman) would pen new songs for the movie.
Later in May 2019, Variety announced that The Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb would helm the project, although details have been scarce since then.
8. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
One of Disney's most powerful and emotionally mature animations, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, released in 1996, was based on the decidedly child-unfriendly classic by Victor Hugo. It was a bold choice for the studio, depicting the dark triangular relationship between disfigured Notre Dame bellringer Quasimodo, his ruthless master Frollo and gypsy woman Esmeralda.
With its forthright depiction of prejudice, corruption and longing, Hunchback certainly wrenched the hearts of young viewers. Another plus point was the memorable score by Disney veteran Alan Menken, a churning, liturgical brew of orchestral might and warring choral forces. So it's good news from Deadline: Alan Menken and original songwriter Stephen Schwartz are said to be reuniting for the live-action remake. And Disney stalwart Josh Gad, the voice of adorable Snowman Olaf in the Frozen movies, will be producing.
The movie is said to be mixing up elements of the Disney animation with aspects of Hugo's original novel, in the manner of Jon Favreau's take on The Jungle Book.
9. Aladdin 2
The Lion King wasn't the only hit Disney remake in 2019. We were whisked back to the mystical, sand-swept land of Agrabah in the studio's Aladdin reboot, which came courtesy of Sherlock Holmes director Guy Ritchie. Many were sceptical that Disney's 1992 masterpiece, which showcased the voice of Robin Williams as the Genie, could possibly be topped. But the naysayers were proven wrong when the movie grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
The remake chanelled both nostalgic pleasures and cosmetic tweaks, reinstating and reinventing Alan Menken's original songs courtesy of new Genie incumbent Will Smith. Little wonder it was such a financial success, and little wonder that an Aladdin sequel is now said to be on the cards. Variety reports that John Gatins and Andrea Berloff are writing a sequel to the 2019 film with producers Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich returning.
"I can't talk too much about the sequel just yet, but know that we are hearing fans' desires to see another Aladdin movie and feel like there's more story to tell," Lin told Disney Insider.
None of the original cast members, including Smith, Mena Massoud (Aladdin) and Naomi Scott (Jasmine) have been confirmed yet, so watch this space.
Which of these Disney remakes are you most excited about? Let us know @Cineworld.