That “Beauty and the Beast” would be a box-office smash was a given considering the planning that Disney has put into its strategy of turning its animated classics into live-action hits.
What began with “Maleficent” in 2014, in a darker sense, has continued with more give-the-fans-what-they-want versions in “Cinderella” (2015), “The Jungle Book” (2016) and now “Beauty and the Beast.”
Stunning production values and the use of new technologies, faithful song renditions and women increasingly involved in the making of these movies have all played a role in these films’ huge success.
So it’s no surprise that at least a dozen other Disney-animated films from its extensive library are in various stages of production, including “Mulan,” expected in 2018.
Some have no stars cast yet, but writers are on the job. Almost none has release dates, although Disney has staked a claim to some dates (including two in 2019) for what they have termed “live-action fairy tale” movies.
Look for these films coming from Disney in the next decade.
Mulan (Nov. 2, 2018)
Considering the growing importance of the massive Chinese audiences for studios, it makes sense that this spin on the 1998 animated film about the daughter of a legendary Chinese warrior who dresses as a man to fight invading Huns is the next live-action remake. It looks like the directing choice is Niki Caro, who helmed “Whale Rider” before she led the making of “McFarland, USA” for Disney. But there’s still no casting announcement.
The Lion King (TBA)
The same photo-realistic technique that director Jon Favreau employed for “The Jungle Book” is what the filmmaker will again use to re-create one of Disney’s biggest-ever hits. Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) has already been announced as the voice of adult Simba, and James Earl Jones will again voice Mufasa. There’s no release date yet, but this one has been fast-tracked. It will retain all of the songs.
The Second Jungle Book (TBA)
After making nearly $1 billion worldwide, of course, there’s a sequel planned, and yes, Favreau will again be directing. The plan is that he’s reportedly going to make “The Lion King” and this film back-to-back, but in what order is not clear.
A live-action take on Disney’s 1941 animated favorite about a flying elephant looks to begin filming this year. Tim Burton is directing the circus, and Eva Green (a star of Burton’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”) and Danny DeVito have just been cast.
There’s no release date yet, but the studio has hired a director: Guy Ritchie, who helmed the “Sherlock Holmes” movies and the upcoming “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” The biggest question, it would seem: Who will take the role of Genie and try to make audiences forget about Robin Williams, who delivered one of the greatest voice performances ever in the 1992 film? That will really be a “Whole New World.”
Christopher Robin (TBA)
This live-action update on the “Winnie the Pooh” legacy will be a tale of the story’s boy now grown up to adulthood, looking to recapture his youthful idealism with his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. Marc Forster (“World War Z,” “Finding Neverland”) has been hired to direct.
Rather than a director, this live-action version based on Cruella De Vil from “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” has a star attached: Emma Stone, the “La La Land” Oscar-winner, who no doubt will deliver a different kind of villain than Glenn Close’s puppy-napper in a pair of Disney live-action films.
Tinker Bell (TBA)
Sometimes known as “Tink,” this Peter Pan-inspired project has had Reese Witherspoon attached for a couple of years to star and to produce. Now the plan is for the “Finding Dory” screenwriter to tackle a script, with the idea of it being a “this is the untold story” concept a la “Maleficent.”
Maleficent 2 (TBA)
Speaking of the vengeful character from Disney’s animated 1959 hit “Sleeping Beauty,” this is the film that kicked off these remakes, and Disney is ready to tackle a sequel whenever Angelina Jolie is ready. So it could be a while.
It’s been a couple of years since the announcement that writing duties on this project had gone to Peter Hedges, who’s worked with Disney in recent years as the writer of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” and rewrites on “The Good Dinosaur.” There have been no updates, so stay tuned.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (TBA)
One of the most revered films in Disney’s animated library is apparently going to get the live-action treatment with new songs. It sounds like a big risk, but reportedly the lyric-writers from “La La Land” and the screenwriter for “The Girl on the Train” are going to work on the project.
The Little Mermaid (TBA)
Disney announced last year that it would revisit its 1989 animated favorite with Alan Menken returning to write new songs for a live-action movie in collaboration with “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was just nominated for an Oscar for writing songs for the studio’s “Moana.”