Disney have enjoyed box office success with its live-action remakes; movies such as Maleficent, Cinderella and The Jungle Book have pulled audiences into theaters, who have in turn, been pleasantly surprised by seeing an animated classic retold on the big screen. Certainly, some of these movies (the aforementioned ones particularly) have perhaps seemed outdated and old in their style, so it’s been refreshing to see them being given a new lease of life. Disney have, in turn, extended their list of movies lined up for the remake treatment, to such an extent that it’s almost easier to list what isn’t being remade.
Beauty and the Beast, 101 Dalmatians, The Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, Pinocchio and Dumbo are just some of the live-action projects in the works at the house of mouse, with some of them being almost a direct retelling and others, such as Winnie the Pooh, getting a whole new, darker and more adult twist given to it. The latter of these, Dumbo, is perhaps the most unclear, because details thus far are still scarce. However, the project does have Tim Burton attached to direct, and now it’s rumored that Will Smith may star.
Deadline is reporting that Disney wants to bring Smith onboard in a central role for the live-action/ CGI movie about the lovable flying elephant and his friend, Timothy Mouse. Though no role is specified, the only human character in the animated version is the Ringmaster of the circus into which Dumbo is born. However, as with The Jungle Book, Dumbo could be assembling an all-star voice cast for the CGI characters, and Smith could be forming the basis for that lineup. At only 64 minutes long, Dumbo is the shortest of all the Disney movies, and so Burton has the scope to really expand upon the storyline as he sees fit, possibly making it into a more dramatic retelling, such as we saw in Jungle Book.
If Smith does sign on, Dumbo could well give a boost to his movie career, which has been somewhat struggling of late. Though Suicide Squad courted much publicity and was seen by many, it didn’t wow the critics like many had hoped it would. Even worse for Smith, his latest release, Collateral Beauty, has received very poor reviews and generally failed to connect with audiences. The actor will be hoping for a better outcome with Bright, the Netflix movie he will star in next with Joel Edgerton.
Disney could well have a hit on its hands, if the Dumbo script by Ehren Kruger (The Brothers Grimm, Transformers 3 & 4) is strong enough. Despite mixed reviews from critics, Burton’s live-action Alice in Wonderland pulled in over $1 billion at the box office, with fans flocking to theaters to see Burton’s vision fulfilled on the big screen. Burton did not direct the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, which performed weakly and was critically-panned. The man is undoubtedly a visionary, and his version of Dumbo will, at the very least, be worth watching just to see some of Dumbo’s drunken dreams realized in loopy live-action.
There is currently no official release date set for Dumbo.