Walt Disney Pictures’ Oscar-winning 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast has already given rise to an award-winning Broadway stage musical adaptation; and now, it’s being re-fashioned as a modern, live-action/CGI film. This version of the fairy tale is a direct adaptation of Disney’s hand-drawn feature, so it shall include the same main characters – including, LeFou, the bumbling sidekick to the handsome antagonist Gaston (with the latter being played by Luke Evans in this new movie).
LeFou will, by the look of it, be brought to life by Josh Gad, who reprises his Frozen character – the enchanted snowman Olaf – in the short Frozen Fever, which is now playing in theaters. Presumably, Gad will also continue his working relationship under the Mouse House’s umbrella on Frozen 2, which (as of yesterday) is now officially in development.
Beauty and the Beast, like its animated predecessor, will be a musical: an area that Gad has a fair amount of experience, having previously costarred in the hit Broadway stage musical The Book of Mormon (he likewise performed Olaf’s musical number “In Summer” in Frozen). Variety is reporting that Gad has reached the “final talks” stage of his negotiations for the role of LeFou; once his deal is done, the next major casting announcement(s) for Beauty and the Beast may involve some of the (enchanted) servants who populate the Beast’s castle.
Emma Watson (Harry Potter) and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) will be anchoring Beauty and the Beast as, respectively, young Belle and the prince who has magically been transformed into a hideous monster – and whose only hope to break the curse is to find someone to love him; someone he loves in return, at that. There’s also a lot of singing and dancing along the way, with such beloved numbers as “Be Our Guest” and “Beauty and the Beast” likely to be among those numbers that make the cut.
The Mouse House has so far had little difficulty attaching top-notch talent to work on the live-action remakes of its famous animated features (other such projects in the pipeline include The Jungle Book and Dumbo) – and so much holds true for Beauty and the Beast. Case in point: calling the shots here is one Oscar-winner Bill Condon – whose next film, Mr. Holmes, opens this summer – while the revised script draft was penned by Stephen Chbosky of The Perks of Being a Wallflower fame (he was also responsible for writing the Rent stage musical film adaptation).
Cinderella, which debuted in U.S. theaters just today, is by far the best-received classic Disney ‘Toon-based live-action remake released to date, in terms of the general critical opinion. It’s also by far a more traditional rendition of an iconic story than its predecessors: the recent “modernizations” Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent.
The 1991 Disney animated version of Beauty and the Beast has, arguably, aged better than a number of other animated fairy tale features produced by the studio over the years – that includes some of the Mouse House’s most famous animated princess fairy tale features (like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella). Which is to say, the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach might again be applicable here – and by the sound of it, Condon and his collaborators agree.
Beauty and the Beast does not have an official release date yet; we’ll let you know when that changes.