Eventually, Disney are going to run out of animated classics to mine for live-action adaptations, and Cruella is an early example of how the studio can continue to churn out new takes on familiar stories without continuing to cannibalize its own back catalogue.
Every self-respecting Disney fan knows all about Cruella de Vil, and she’s a hugely popular and marketable character with a vague and unexplained backstory, so it was decided to tell her origins instead of mounting yet another straightforward spin on 101 Dalmatians. A Quiet Place Part II may have stolen most of the box office headlines this weekend, but Emma Stone’s star vehicle did strong business as well after hauling in over $21 million in its first three days despite also being available on Disney Plus Premier Access.
Which is why it’s not too surprising that we’ve now heard from our sources – the same ones who told us Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker was returning to Star Wars long before he showed up in The Mandalorian‘s season 2 finale – that Disney are so buoyed by the early success and reception to Cruella that more live-action blockbusters told from the villain’s perspective are in the works, which is arguably the wrong data to extrapolate from the film’s debut.
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After all, anyone to have seen Cruella will know that it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good without Stone’s performance, so it’s not as easy as simply giving iconic villains their own standalone effort. Of course, the precedent was initially set by Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent, which made $768 million globally and got a sequel, but the novelty clearly wore off after takings for Mistress of Evil dropped by almost $300 million.
Indeed, casting is key when it comes to giving bad guys top billing, but there are fifteen live-action projects based on the roster of animated Disney classics already in development, so it’s probably only a matter of time before the next evildoer gets their own origin story.