It's hard to imagine today, but there was a period of time in the 1970s and '80s when Disney animated movies weren't earning $100 million at the box office. Things changed drastically in 1989 with the release of The Little Mermaid, an animated musical composed by the team of Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. That film went on to win two Academy Awards for its soundtrack, and the pair reunited to work on Beauty and the Beast, the third highest-grossing film in 1991. The film earned the team their third and fourth Academy Awards, one for the soundtrack and the other for the titular song "Beauty and the Beast."
Alan Menken has gone on to become the most iconic contemporary Disney composer, with work ranging from feature films to Broadway musicals. Menken recently took part in a new series titled 'Artist to Artist,' a new series at the Lincoln Center in New York where a new artist is given the opportunity to interview a seasoned veteran. While the interview mostly detailed the composer's legacy, he did mention new details about the soundtrack of the upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast.
Speaking about the soundtrack, Menken confirmed - via Stitchkingdom - that there wouldn't be any songs from the Broadway production, but the soundtrack would include three new songs along with songs from the original animated film.
It's the songs from the movie, we did not fit in any songs [from the Broadway show.] The song I would have fit in from the Broadway show is 'If I Can't Love Her' but the Beast's moment in the film is a much later moment... So we wrote another song called 'Forever More,' like 'I now know what love is.' There's another song called 'Days in the Sun' which is a lullaby as all the objects and characters living in the castle are going to sleep they're all singing and remembering before the spell.
While there were no details given about the final song, Menken confirmed three new songs were composed with writing partner Tim Rice. The two worked together previously composing the award-winning soundtrack for Aladdin.
There's no denying Menken's pedigree, but his work with Disney has consistently been his strongest. Every one of the composer's eight Academy Awards were awarded for his work on Disney soundtracks. The relationship has proven mutually beneficial, as Menken and Ashman's The Little Mermaid soundtrack receives a fair share of the credit for revitalizing Disney's animated films.
Live-action remakes of their beloved classics have proven extremely profitable for Disney, despite varying levels of quality. With Alice in Wonderland earning over $1 billion worldwide and Maleficent passing $750 million, there's no doubt that the trend will continue. While there is a very real possibility of oversaturating the market, it's a smart move to bring their strongest composer on board for this adaptation. Time will tell if Menken's newest songs can recapture the magic that made the original Beauty and the Beast an instant classic.
What do you think, Screen Rant readers? Are you looking forward to this adaptation? Let us know in the comments.
Beauty and the Beast - starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, and Luke Evans - opens in U.S. theaters on March 17th, 2017.