As Disney continues to plum the depths of its animated catalog to develop live-action retellings of its most classic stories, from the recently released Cinderella to the just-greenlit Tink spinoff, the studio has emerged with a very unexpected project: a live-action adaptation of “Night on Bald Mountain,” the sequence from Disney’s 1940 classic Fantasia.
Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless have been tasked with adapting the segment into a live-action feature for Disney. The scribes previously teamed for Universal’s Dracula Untold, another adventure with Gothic overtones, and their other scripts include supernatural-tinged The Last Witch Hunter and mythology-heavy epic Gods of Egypt. The pair are also producing the pic.
The wordless sequence depicted a winged, Gothic creature summoning the dead for a night of revelry that ended with all fading away as the sun rises. Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky first created the classical music of the sequence in 1867, and it was arranged into the more recognizable version by Leopold Stokowski for Fantasia.
Given the mystery of the original segment, Sazama and Sharpless will have their work cut out for them creating a dark, beautiful world around Bald Mountain. Sources say that Disney wants a reimagining in the vein of Maleficent, which turned the Sleeping Beauty villainess into a tragic antihero, so expect the backstory for that winged creature, intended to represent the devil Chernabog, to come into play.
This isn’t the only live-action reimagining of a classic Disney cartoon to enter development of late. After the box-office success of Maleficent and Cinderella, the studio is putting a premium on new adaptations of beloved tales. In the works: Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston; a new Mulan take; Tink, with Reese Witherspoon starring as the sidekick to Peter Pan; and Dumbo, which Tim Burton is directing.
Check out the original “Night on Bald Mountain” segment below.