You may have noticed that Disney has started remaking its classic animated films in live-action form. It sort of began with Maleficent, the pricey retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale from the villain’s point of view with Angelina Jolie taking on leading lady duties. The film was a sizeable success, but instead of continuing to put twists on older films, Disney instead started straight-up remaking them. Cinderella was re-envisioned as a lavish period piece by director Kenneth Branagh; The Jungle Book was brought to life by jaw-dropping visual effects courtesy of director Jon Favreau; Pete’s Dragon got a humanistic update via filmmaker David Lowery; and Beauty and the Beast is a mega-hit, grossing over $1 billion at the box office.
Release Date: March 29, 2019
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Danny DeVito, Nico Parker, and Finley Hobbins
This was actually one of the first live-action remakes to be announced, but we haven’t heard too many updates. As far as we know, Tim Burton is still attached to direct this new Dumbo story, and it marks another collaboration with Disney for the filmmaker after Frankenweenie and Alice in Wonderland. When the project was first announced, Transformers and The Ring scribe Ehren Kruger penned the script, and while Will Smith flirted with one of three main human roles early on, he ultimately passed. Colin Farrell now stars as a former circus star who finds his life turned upside down when he returns home from the war. He and his family are enlisted to care for the young Dumbo, but a pair of nefarious entrepreneurs played by Eva Green and Michael Keaton have other plans.
Release Date: May 24, 2019
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: John August
Cast: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, and Will Smith
Years ago, Disney was reportedly working on a Genie spin-off movie, but it appears they might have opted to go a different route with a straight-up Aladdin remake. Sherlock Holmes and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. director Guy Ritchie is at the helm, and he’s got good company in Big Fish scribe John August. Disney cast a wide net for newcomers of Middle Eastern descent to fill the lead roles, as producer Dan Lin previously revealed that the film won’t be pulling a Prince of Persia and is going after non-white actors for the leads. Oh, and it’s a musical, so the casting search was difficult, but they landed on relative newcomer Mena Massoud for Aladdin and Power Rangers actress Naomi Scott for Jasmine. As for casting Genie, Disney cast Will Smith after Kevin Hart reportedly passed.
Composer Alan Menken returned to write new songs with lyrics by The Greatest Showman and La La Land songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
The Lion King
Release Date: July 19, 2019
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jeff Nathanson
Cast: James Earl Jones, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, Beyonce
Fresh off the success of The Jungle Book, Disney enlisted director Jon Favreau to put the same technological wizardry to use on a new iteration of The Lion King. The project was put on the fast track and was being developed at the same time as The Jungle Book 2, which Favreau also planned to direct, but the success of Beauty and the Beast spurred Disney to get The Lion King going ASAP. Hans Zimmer returns to compose the score and the film will include the iconic songs from the original film, and casting includes James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa, Donald Glover as Simba, John Oliver as Zazu, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa. Moreover, after months of courting, Beyonce finally signed on to play Nala.