Disney's 2017 Beauty and the Beast reimagining originally left the door open to a sequel with Gaston, the film's screenwriters and producer have revealed. The movie, which grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide, was poised to promise a follow-up - until very late in the script-writing process.
In the film, Gaston (Luke Evans) dies in the climactic battle against the beast, much like he did in Disney's 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast film before it. However, in an earlier draft of Beauty and the Beast's script, Gaston would have lived on, setting up a sequel that included the charming villain.
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TheWrap reports that there were plans to have Gaston survive, and, in a possible sequel, be cursed by the enchantress who had cursed the beast in the first place. Gaston would then “run off into the world as the new beast, whether to be redeemed or come back as a villain," said Evan Spiliotopoulos, who wrote the movie's script with Stephen Chbosky. According to Spiliotopoulos, talks to have Gaston become the beast went rather far, and were only cancelled in favor of the more traditional story in the "eleventh hour."
Spiliotopoulos made his comments during a Q&A, and offered some other interesting bits of information. One similarly dealt with Gaston: the writer understood Evans' character, a soldier, as suffering from PTSD. As for Belle, Spiliotopoulos connected the protagonist to France's rising literacy rates - which the film expresses through Belle's reading lessons for young girls.
Chbosky, the script's co-writer, also shed some light on Beauty and the Beast's background. He had been away from work for months, dealing with a family medical issue, when he took on the movie. During that hiatus, he watched myriad princess films with his daughter - and, he said, "When I saw them through her eyes and her experience, it became very profound and personal to me." So, he said, he set out to depict Belle in a way his daughter could look up to.
The live-action Beauty and the Beast was a compelling adaptation of the 1991 classic, and earned the box-office and critical success it attained. And especially because of how successful the film seemed destined to be, it's surprising to learn that the easy path to a sequel was forgone to stay true to the story's origins. (That doesn't eliminate the possibility of a sequel, of course. Where there's a will, there's a way.) The glimpses into the mindset of the film's writers are fun to have, too — and if a sequel does ultimately come to fruition, it might benefit from more fully exploring the kind of historical context that Spiliotopoulos referenced.