Disney’s quest to re-imagine the contents of its back catalogue continues, with confirmation that Bill Condon will direct a live-action version of the studio’s 1991 Oscar nominated animated feature, Beauty And The Beast. The great modernization of Disney classics has thus far been well-received by audiences, who embraced updated versions of Alice In Wonderland and The Wizard Of Oz (aka Oz the Great and Powerful), and most recently carried Maleficent to a $170 million opening weekend. With this latest project, the studio is clearly hoping to capitalize on that success.
The story – based on the traditional fairy tale first published in 1740 from the pen of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve – has been filmed many times since Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version, La Belle et la Bete. Disney’s own 1991 animation of the tale was directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton. Billed as a musical romantic fantasy, the tale centres on the kind-hearted and rebellious Belle, who finds herself at the heart of a dangerous love triangle – aggressively pursued by the unpleasant and arrogant Gaston, and trapped by the lonely Beast.
The film features many spectacular musical set-pieces, along with the usual Disney use of enchanted objects – in this case, a candlestick, a clock and a tea-set. Bill Condon’s version – written by Battle for Terra scribe Evan Spiliotopoulos – will be live-action, and it is not yet clear whether the project will follow a musical path. However, the choice of Condon as director certainly makes it a possibility, since he previously adapted the musical Dreamgirls for film and wrote the script for Chicago. He also successfully handled the combination of romance and action in both parts of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, so for Beauty And The Beast, he should have all the bases covered.
Casting for Bill Condon’s version has yet to be announced – but those choices will tell us a lot about the direction we can expect the movie to take. The project certainly represents another opportunity for the modernization of a popular leading female character, and it will be very interesting to see how reflective this re-imagining will be of the current perception of the representation of women in the media. With the source material being a traditional fairy tale, the original sets the character of Belle as a relatively passive character – pushed and pulled between strong male influences. It would be a huge boost to Disney’s profile for their new Beauty And The Beast to do something different.
As ever, We Got This Covered will bring you more news on this production, as and when we have it.