Could have called this one – as Disney plumbs the depths of its animated catalog in order to maximize the number of live-action remakes and re-imaginings it can send into theaters, 1963 animated fantasy The Sword in the Stone has been anointed as the latest title to receive an update.
Bryan Cogman, who has written episodes of HBO’s high fantasy epic Game of Thrones, will pen the script for the project, which Brigham Taylor (Disney’s upcoming Jungle Book remake) is attached to produce.
The Sword in the Stone occupies a bittersweet place in Disney history, as it was the latest animated offering to be released before Walt Disney’s death. Centering on a young King Arthur as he learned the responsibilities of being a monarch from wizened sorcerer Merlin, it was commercially successful and received solid reviews upon its release, despite drawing nowhere near the acclaim of some other Disney titles.
Cogman seems like an extremely good choice to update the story for a live-action take – he’s been nominated for four WGA Awards for assorted Thrones episodes and is currently working on an adaptation of fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering for Fox.
Though The Sword in the Stone is just one of a ridiculous number of Disney animated pics to enter redevelopment in hopes of being turned into a live-action blockbuster, its timing may actually be perfect. Sword-and-shield fantasy is huge on television right now, and with Warner Bros. plotting Guy Ritchie’s Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur for a summer tentpole date next year, the genre may be about to re-emerge in a big way at the box office.
With Cogman newly hired to write a draft, though, many other Disney updates are sure to hit theaters first. In the wake of jaw-dropping grosses for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Robert Stromberg’s Maleficent and Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, the studio is prioritizing new takes on old classics like The Sword in the Stone.
Next up: Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast, with Emma Watson in the lead role of Belle. Also in the works are remakes or “reimaginings” of The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Mulan, Winnie the Pooh and (bizarrely) Fantasia segment “Night on Bald Mountain.” Luckily, A Goofy Movie is not among the titles being updated – when that happens, the studio and willing audiences may both be beyond help.