In between accidentally taking over the world with Frozen, Disney continues to busy itself with its commercially successful reimagining campaign in the 2010s. Pouring over its extensive animation library, starting with Alice in Wonderland, the Mouse House has repeatedly cherry picked classic entries ripe for retelling and produced live-action renditions for each of them; the trend has since expanded to include the likes of Oz the Great and Powerful, this year’s Maleficent, and forthcoming efforts Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast.
Box office doesn’t lie, and Disney knows where their bread is buttered. Original IPs like Frozen blindside everybody with titanic ancillary domination, but returning to the well works in a pinch, too. It works so well, in fact, that even though Maleficent is still raking in cash on its theatrical run, and audiences still have a ways to go before the aforementioned re-imaginings hit theaters, Disney has already lined up its next animation-to-live-action project: Dumbo, perhaps one of the less likely candidate possible for rebooting in the studio’s repertoire.
THR has the scoop; frankly, the names involved in development thus far might come as more of a surprise than the news that the film is being remade to begin with. Ehren Kruger, after all, isn’t exactly known for making family fare, having spent a huge chunk of his recent career churning out Transformer scripts for Michael Bay – in fact, outside of the first picture in that franchise, he’s responsible for penning every single one, leading all the way up to Age of Extinction. Kruger also can claim credit on the American version of The Ring, its sequel, The Ring 2, Scream 3 and Scream 4, and The Brothers Grimm.
None of these particularly scream “Dumbo“, which makes Kruger’s presence here unexpected. Maybe the key here is, once again, box office; most of these films wound up making money hand over fist, with The Brothers Grimm representing the only tangible flop. Disney, after all, isn’t cannibalizing its catalog of beloved cartoons foremost for artistic reasons – they’re doing it to fill the piggy bank, because ventures of this sort just make good business sense. In that regard, it might not even matter who they hire to bang out the screenplay for a Dumbo update, just so long as the thing makes money in the long run.
Why Dumbo, though? For those who can’t remember their childhoods, the film concerns itself with the titular circus elephant, notable (and often tormented by obnoxious circus goers) for having especially large ears that give him the ability to fly; it’s also incredibly short, clocking in at just over an hour of running time. Apparently, Disney plans to add “a unique family story” to their new take on the original, one that will play out concurrently with Dumbo’s own arc, so at least they have a hook in mind. They also plan, unsurprisingly, to make the film effects heavy. As one can imagine, a movie about a flying elephant demands some pretty serious CGI work, and Disney seems to believe that modern day FX technology will let them pull off that feat in a live-action framework.
No other detail has been provided about Dumbo as yet, and other than Kruger, only Oblivion producer Justin Springer is on board to participate in its development. We’ll see who else they pull in to make viewers believe an elephant can fly in the new decade.
We’ll keep you updated on Dumbo news as it becomes available.