With Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent taking the #1 spot at the domestic box office this past weekend – having already raked in close to $200 million dollars worldwide – it’s no surprise that Disney is planning to move full steam ahead with its next live-action reinvention of a classic animated property. This time out, Disney is hopeful that moviegoers around the world will want to “be their guest” once again.
Disney is reportedly prepping a live-action adaptation of the seminal Beauty and the Beast fairytale. The story was of course previously adapted into a Disney animated feature back in 1991. That film remains one of the most well-regarded in the history of American animation, holding the distinction of being one of the only animated works to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Beauty and the Beast has gone on to become one of Disney’s most beloved franchises, with Belle and the Beast appearing in direct-to-video follow-ups, theme park rides, video games, books, and mountains of other Disney merchandise.
According to Variety, Bill Condon – perhaps best known to younger audiences for his work helming both installments of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - is being brought on to direct Beauty and the Beast. Whatever one thinks of the Twilight series, it’s entirely reasonable that Disney would think Condon is the right man to direct Beauty and the Beast. This new film will very likely target the teen and tween audience, and the Twilight films made their vast fortune off of that very demographic. Condon also has experience handling love affairs between humans and non-humans as well. All kidding aside, from a marketing standpoint, the decision makes sense.
It’s not like Condon hasn’t directed quality films before. His first claim to fame was the critically-acclaimed James Whale biopic Gods & Monsters in 1998; he then went on to direct the Oscar-winning musical Dreamgirls, which would make him the perfect choice should Disney decide to include musical numbers in the live-action Beauty and the Beast. In other words: to judge Condon as a director solely on his contributions to the Twilight franchise would be short-sighted.
Beauty and the Beast is only the latest Disney animated property set to be re-adapted for the big-screen. Iron Man’s Jon Favreau will soon direct a live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and a Kenneth Branagh-helmed live-action version of Cinderella hits theaters in early 2015. Will this mark a creative renaissance for Disney’s classic franchises? Only time (and possibly Jiminy Cricket) will tell.
Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is in development, and has no current release date.