Beauty and the Beast. The Lion King. Aladdin. These are just a few of nearly a dozen classic animated features that the Walt Disney Company has reproduced as live-action or hyper-realistic CG blockbusters. Film nerds and critics aren’t keen on them, but that hasn’t stopped the House of Mouse from raking in billions of dollars by relying on proven stories and characters to appeal to families and the nostalgia of parents everywhere.
And whether or not the movie theater experience as we once knew it survives, more live-action remakes are lined up for the rest of the years to come. If box office receipts aren’t in the cards, then Disney will absolutely try to make serious bank from them as premium-on-demand attractions on Disney+ and via subscriptions months later. So here are just eight of the remakes currently in the pipes at Disney
The 1961 animated hound-centric caper got a live-action treatment back in 1996 with Glenn Close immortalizing the villainous Cruella de Vil in glorious camp fashion. This remake is set in a PG-rated version of punk rock 70s London, with Emma Stone playing the title character, an aspiring fashion designer turned penniless crook. A chance encounter grants her the opportunity to realize her ambitions but what price is she willing to pay?
Cruella is directed by Craig Gillespie, best known for 2018’s I, Tonya which depicted a similar story of an ambitious young woman derailed by adversity. Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) and Joel Fry (Game of Thrones) play the amateur thieves Horace and Jasper, who are Cruella’s best friends and partners in petty crime. The movie was originally scheduled for December 2020, but is now set for May 28, 2021.
Peter Pan & Wendy
There’s been no shortage of live-action Peter Pan movies, though few have really taken hold of the imagination of the collective moviegoing audience. Which is why remaking their 1953 animated classic is such a primo opportunity for Disney. The remake will feature Jude Law as Captain Hook, Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell and Alexander Molony as Peter Pan and will be directed by David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon). It’s slated for 2022.
The Little Mermaid
Rob Marshall, the director of the critically acclaimed musical flicks Chicago, Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns will be helming this live-action musical take of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. The big selling point would be the return of composer Alan Menken, who originally co-wrote the music for 1989’s Little Mermaid and the addition of Lin-Manuel Miranda to help write new songs for the film.
The titular mermaid Ariel will be played by R&B pop star Halle Bailey. Melissa McCarthy plays the nefarious sea witch Ursula while Javier Bardem plays Ariel’s father King Triton. Daveed Diggs of Hamilton fame will play the crab Sebastian and raunchy comedian Awkwafina will play Scuttle, the dim-witted diving bird that just makes stuff up about the surface world. Current guesstimates maintain a release date of November 19, 2021.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The live-action remake of the 1996 musical drama, based on a novel by Victor Hugo, was announced back in January 2019. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz will return to write the music, though this far out, it remains unclear how much of the music will be new material or reused from the original. Disney stalwart Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, Frozen) is listed as a producer and may also star as Quasimodo.
Fantasia: Night On Bald Mountain
Despite being one of the most iconic animated productions of Disney, the company seems disinterested in producing another sequel, especially after disappointing returns for 1999’s Fantasia 2000. What seems to be under serious consideration though is “Night on Bald Mountain.”
It will be based on one of the darker segments of the original film set to the music of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the producers behind Netflix’s Lost In Space are penning the script, which will reportedly give the devil Chernabog, a Maleficent-like treatment.
A live-action remake of Pinocchio has been in the works for a while now, and gone through multiple writers. Disney first tasked Peter Hedges, who directed 2012’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green for the studio to take a crack at a script; later drafts were attempted by Chris Weitz (Cinderella, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Jack Thorne (HBO’s His Dark Materials). Currently, Robert Zemeckis is lined up to helm the film, with Tom Hanks in talks to play Pinocchio’s father, the toymaker Geppetto.
The 1973 Robin Hood animated film introduced young viewers to family friendly straightforward adaptation of the legend, minus the murder and dark magic of other tellings. It also planted some confusing feelings towards handsome fox men. Disney is eyeing a remake for its Disney+ streaming service, using the live action/CGI hybrid style from Lion King they love so much to create anthropomorphic animals.
Kari Granlund, who wrote the Lady and the Tramp remake for Disney is currently listed as the screenwriter with Carlos Lopez Estrada (Blindspotting) slated to direct. With this different take, it’s unlikely they’ll be reusing any of the songs from the original, let alone the bleak “Not In Nottingham.” But you can bet that hyperrealistic foxes and vixens will arouse a whole new generation of furry curious feelings.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Announced via The Hollywood Reporter way back in 2016, this remake of Disney’s first full-length animated feature will be helmed by Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man) with a script by Erin Cressida Williams (The Girl on the Train). The remake will feature brand new music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who earned acclaim for their work on The Greatest Showman.
Which of these upcoming Disney remakes are you looking forward to?