With this month’s Maleficent, Disney is returning to their fairy tale roots after being heavily involved with superheroes and adventures set in a galaxy far, far away. The film isn’t necessarily a prequel or a sequel, but rather a reinvention of the Sleeping Beauty tale Disney first adapted with their 1959 animated feature.
Keen to remind audiences of this film’s connection with Sleeping Beauty, Disney is even using an updated version of that film’s iconic tune. Robert Stromberg (art director on Oz the Great and Powerful) stepped in to the director’s chair for Maleficent, working off a screenplay by Linda Woolverton (Alice in Wonderland), seeming to indicate Maleficent will be similar to Disney’s previous live-action fairy tales (at the very least stylistically).
The focus of much the film’s marketing has been on its titular character and the actress bringing her to life: Angelina Jolie. In fact, it’s as if Disney is banking almost entirely on Jolie’s eerily uncanny performance to take Maleficent to the top of the box office. This could be a sure fire strategy considering Jolie’s popularity and how striking she appears in her Maleficent getup, but the studio has relied on actor-centric marketing before (think Johnny Depp in the Pirates series, Alice in Wonderland, The Lone Ranger) and it hasn’t always proven successful, as demonstrated by the amount of money Disney lost on Ranger.
This latest featurette (above) holds true to that formula, however, as Jolie, Stromberg, and Woolverton discuss not only what makes Maleficent such a fantastic character, but how the casting of Jolie is a perfect marriage between actor and role.
Hearing Woolverton say she owed it to both the character and the actress to make Maleficent the best it could possibly be is promising; same for the continued praise for Jolie’s turn as the wingless fairy from both Stromberg and Princess Aurora actress, Elle Fanning. Yet, this still sounds like the film might be relying heavily on Jolie’s performance and perhaps not on its own merits as an entertaining reinvention of a classic fairy tale.
In addition to the new talking heads piece, there are also these new Maleficent character posters and the film’s IMAX poster:
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It’s nice seeing a few of the film’s other characters on a poster as this indicates Maleficent won’t necessarily be all Jolie all the time. Most are self-explanatory, but the character of Diaval may have some scratching their heads. Played by Sam Riley, he is a shapeshifter and a confidant of Maleficent’s, and will appear as her dutiful raven in the film. Though, considering his character warranted his own poster, Diaval role’s in the film is likely larger and more complicated than simply Maleficent’s pet raven.
Maleficent opens in U.S. theaters on May 30th, 2014.
Source: Walt Disney Pictures