Arguably the biggest challenge for the writers and directors of the many live-action remakes of classic Disney films being worked on right now is deciding how to make each one unique from its predecessor. One of the ways some of them are doing that is by telling the stories straight up, without using songs. Both Maleficent and Cinderella do not have songs and dances in the middle of the story, and neither will the upcoming Mulan.
Others have kept the popular and beloved music, making them not only remakes but live-action musicals as well, a rarity in modern movies. The most recent is the most overt; Beauty and the Beast has kept the singing and dancing as well as adding some new songs. That’s a big difference to previous remakes, which posed a question of whether cinemagoers would buy into the Emma Watson-led film. On the cusp of a record-breaking opening, the director’s said that he thinks a recent Best Picture Oscar nominee might have helped audiences get in the right frame of mind.
When talking to the Evening Standard about the film, Bill Condon stated he felt the recent massive success of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land worked as groundwork for his movie:
“My god, how lucky we got that La La Land appeared. I do think it’s been this gradual kind of movement in the audience through certain movies, television, and music videos too. You look at Beyonce’s brilliant movie Lemonade, this genre is taking on so many different forms… I do think that this very old-school break-out-into-song traditional musical is something that people understand again and really want.”
La La Land told the story of two struggling artists – a jazz pianist and an actress – falling in love in Hollywood. From the moment it opened with a huge song and dance in the middle of the freeway, it was clear that the film was inspired by the golden age movie musicals of the past – and audiences loved it. This won’t have had any direct influence on Beauty and the Beast from a production standpoint, but it did help reintroduce modern audiences to the form.
Condon is no stranger to movie musicals; he wrote and directed the hit 2006 Broadway adaption Dreamgirls, and also wrote the screen adaption for 2002’s Chicago – which is often credited for ushering in the popularity of the movie musical back then. Like any genre, live-action musicals were in fashion for awhile after Chicago, but seem to have fallen a bit out of favor in the last few years.
If Condon is right in his assessment, La La Land has helped kick-off the next wave of musical films. Indeed, considering that Beauty and the Beast is poised for a very successful opening weekend, it seems likely that they are back in vogue once more.
Source: Evening Standard