Disney, in the latest chapter of its recent strategy of remaking its animated classics as live-action films (i.e. Malificent and The Jungle Book), announced back in 2013 that a new version of Beauty and the Beast was on the way. The film, directed by Twilight series veteran Bill Condon, will star Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston, with a cast that also includes Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad and Ewan McGregor. The film will be a musical, using the songs from Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman from the 1991 animated movie as well as new songs from Menken and Tim Rice.
The film, set for release next March, got its first trailer back in May and broke the record for trailer views set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A new poster arrived in July, and now we have another tease of what's to come in the new Beauty and the Beast.
Disney has released a short promotional video for Beauty and the Beast, which is itself a teaser for a longer clip that will come out later this month as part of the 25th Anniversary Edition of the 1991 Beauty and the Beast film. The clip, lasting 47 seconds, features Watson and Stevens at a table read for the film, as well as director Condon talking on camera about how technology has progressed to the point where a faithful live-action adaptation is now possible. There are also juxtapositions of the ballroom, the castle and other locations in the animated film with that of the new live-action movie.
Should we be excited about the new Beauty and the Beast? By all indications, yes. The first film was one of Disney’s best animated efforts, from quite possibly its greatest era (as chronicled in the great documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty), and the songs were some of the best from the Menken/Ashman team. From what we’ve seen so far, the film is well-cast and it looks like they’ve got the visuals down right.
Whether the energy of the animated film translates to live action - especially the talking furniture part - remains to be seen, but Disney is on a winning streak with its live-action adaptations so far, and Beauty and the Beast has every chance of being another big hit.
The live-action Beauty of the Beast movie will be released March 17, 2017. The 25th Anniversary Edition of the 1991 Beauty of the Beast will arrive on Digital HD September 6 and on Blu-ray September 18.