Reports that Guillermo del Toro is co-conceiving a new treatment of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale with producer Denise Di Novi (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) hit the interwebs back in Summer 2011, but little to nothing else has been mentioned about the project – due, in part, to del Toro beginning production on his sci-fi epic, Pacific Rim, around the end of last year.

Jump to the present and del Toro is now set to both produce and direct the fable retelling, which Variety says is tentatively titled Beast (though Heat Vision claims the title is actually Beauty). Bear in mind, this is a separate endeavor from both CW’s remake of the 1980s Beauty and the Beast TV series (also called Beast) and Silent Hill director Christophe Gans’ recently-announced cinematic re-imagining of the story, which is slated to star Vincent Cassel (Black Swan) and Léa Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol).

Variety says that del Toro plans to write a treatment for Beast, which will thereafter be transformed into script form by two-time Emmy winner Andrew Davies. The latter has previously worked on mainstream fare such as Bridget Jones’ Diary and Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers, but is best known for penning more serious and acclaimed period dramas – for both the big screen (Brideshead Revisited) and especially in TV mini-series form (Sense & Sensibility, Vanity Fair, Pride & Prejudice, etc.).

Beast is indeed confirmed as being a period piece – unlike last year’s contemporary Beauty and the Beast flick, Beastly – though there’s no word yet on exactly when in history the film will take place. While both recent and impending fairy tale re-imaginings have tended to favor a Medieval setting (Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Huntsman) there’s no guarantee that del Toro will go a similar route.

However, Variety has affirmed that Emma Watson is essentially set (ie. in “final negotiations”) to headline Beast. In a sense, this del Toro project could end up testing the Harry Potter actress’ bankability in a manner similar to how The Woman in Black has tested her former costar Daniel Radcliffe – seeing how Watson’s other post-Potter parts to date (in My Week with Marilyn and the upcoming The Perks of Being a Wallflower) do not use her as so major a selling point, to the degree that Beast will.

Revamped fairy tale films are definitely starting to wear out their welcome – and, for many people, they already have – but the idea of del Toro sitting at the helm of Beast is a promising one. Fans of the Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy filmmaker are certainly going to be stoked by the idea of him putting his imaginatively dark artistic touch on the classic romance tale about a gorgeous young woman and a prince cursed to become a hideous monster.

Of course, having Watson serve as the female lead (eye candy?) in Beast will also help attract the attention of moviegoers who are less inclined to see a fairy tale movie, even if it promises to boast great storytelling and creative production design alike.

We will continue to keep you posted on the status of del Toro’s Beauty and the Beast adaptation (whatever the official title ends up being) as the story develops.

Source: Variety, THR