Disney has positioned themselves to fair very well at the box office for the next few years. With blockbuster franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars, Disney is also continuing to bring more original animated movies and beloved Pixar films as well. However, one of their latest trends is turning some of their original content into new live-action movies. This year alone they have brought both The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon back to theaters with live-action adaptations, combining nostalgia with a reinvention of the original story.
The Jungle Book was both a financial and critical hit, while Pete’s Dragon has not experienced the same following in the theaters. But, that does not seem to have detoured Disney’s plan to bring more of these movies to life once again. In fact, a new report points to a high caliber director looking to bring back another property.
Deadline is reporting that Sam Mendes is the “very early stages” of negotiations to develop and eventually direct a live-action version of James and the Giant Peach. Nick Hornby is writing the script with Joe Roth also being looked at to be a producer on the film. Even though a deal is not close to being finalized, Mendes has shown a knack for successfully jumping into a project with a pre-existing lore considering his work on Skyfall and, to a lesser extent, Spectre.
The original version of James and the Giant Peach was released in 1996 with Henry Selick as the director of the stop motion and animated film. The movie was based on the book written by Roald Dahl in 1961, and it would come as a surprise should Mendes not also take pages from the book. In both stories, James goes on an adventure after finding himself inside a magical, giant peach.
Mendes is a fascinating choice to tackle the live-action remake. His directorial debut, American Beauty, won him an Oscar for Best Director in addition to other awards for the pic. One factor in Disney approaching Mendes is the name recognition that comes with him. They saw great returns on The Jungle Book after having Jon Favreau’s name and other work attached to the movie. However, that also had plenty of well known actors doing voice work, giving newcomer Neel Sethi a chance to carry the movie. They could be in a similar position of bringing on a new face in Hollywood with this movie, so casting will as always be important.
James and the Giant Peach is in early development with no targeted release date.