The Walt Disney Company's upcoming live-action remake of its 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast will (like its predecessor) be a musical. That has not been the case with any of the Mouse House's other modern live-action takes on its classic 'Toon features that've been released over the past five years. That includes, the most recent addition to the pile: director Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella (which has already become a critical and commercial success after less than a week in theaters).
Oscar-winning writer/director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Breaking Dawn - Part 1 & 2) previously confirmed that his live-action Beauty and the Beast will include songs from the 1991 2D animated movie. The latter boasts iconic music/songs by Alan Menken and the late Oscar-winner Howard Ashman; its live-action remake will include new recordings of said songs, in addition to "several new songs" written by Menken and Sir Tim Rice (Aladdin, The Lion King), according to Disney's press release.
Disney has now officially confirmed several of the previously-reported Beauty and the Beast cast members: including, Emma Watson as the independent-minded Belle; Dan Stevens as the selfish Prince-turned Beast; and Luke Evans as the vain Gaston. We also learned just last week that Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf from Frozen) is in the final stage of negotiations to play the role of Gaston's dim-witted sidekick, LeFou.
The Disney press release also confirmed two more Beauty and the Beast cast members: Oscar-winners Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Kevin Kline (Last Vegas) as, respectively, the Beast's enchanted servant Mrs. Potts and Belle's father, Maurice. Both Thompson and Kline, like most of the movie's cast, have significant experience in the field of musical theater performance. The former recently played Mrs. Lovett in the Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street stage musical (you can watch her sing "Worst Pies in London" online), while Kline has been a Tony award-winning star of Broadway since the late 1970s.
Beauty and the Beast begins filming in London this May, in order to make a March 17th, 2017 theatrical release date. That means the film (which, yes, will be 3D) shall arrive almost exactly two years after Branagh's Cinderella; close to eleven months after Jon Favreau's live-action The Jungle Book; and about seven years after director Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland kicked off this Disney live-action remake craze in the first place. Clearly, the Mouse House has its formula for success here locked in place.
The cast assembled for Beauty and the Beast already is very impressive, while the behind the scenes talent - a lineup that includes screenwriter Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) - isn't too shabby, either. Disney's 1991 movie will probably always remain the definitive version of this fairy tale for many, but at least it sounds as though the live-action retooling is going to provide a respectable rendition for a new generation to call their own.
Now... who's ready to get "Be Our Guest" (among other tunes) stuck in their head all over again?
Beauty and the Beast opens in U.S. theaters on March 17th, 2017.
Source: Walt Disney Studios