Walt Disney Animation's 1990s renaissance period yielded a truly staggering run of hits that became enduring classics for generations of fans, but for many the one that stands out above all is Beauty and The Beast. The 1991 adaptation of the classic French folk tale dazzled audiences with cutting-edge traditional/CGI hybrid animation, iconic musical numbers like "Be Our Guest" and some of the most memorable characters the Mouse House ever created; it became the first animated feature film in history to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And with Disney now in the midst of a new run of live-action reimaginings of their biggest animated hits, it was only a matter of time before this film got its turn.
Now, the teaser trailer for the eagerly awaited Bill Condon (Dreamgirls)-directed feature, which stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter) as Belle, Luke Evans (The Hobbit trilogy) as Gaston and Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens as The Beast.
The trailer, which debuted on Good Morning America, is a "teaser" in the most literal sense of the word, relying on mystique and subtlety before a big reveal designed to send audiences away surprised by the prospect of what the film actually is. At first, it resembles nothing so much as a gothic supernatural drama in the vein of Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak (some might recall that del Toro almost made his own version of Beauty and the Beast starring Watson, a few years back.)
Comprised mainly of slow tracking shots of a magnificently-appointed castle interior succumbing to neglect (mirroring the introduction of the original film), before a "jump scare" of a painting being slashed by animal claws and a cut to black followed by a guttural animal growl. The subsequent reveal of the famous glass-encased rose and the brief first glimpse of Watson as Belle, underscored by a light piano rendition of the main song number, are the first and last indications of what this trailer is actually advertising. The Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer should be attached to most screenings of Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass when it opens in theaters.
In addition to the main cast, a who's-who of serious talent has been assembled to bring the iconic supporting cast to life: Emma Thompson will portray Miss Potts, Kevin Kline will appear as Belle's father Maurice, Ewan McGregor is Lumiere, Ian McKellan is Cogsworth and Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Babette. Josh Gad, previously heard as Olaf in Frozen, will appear in live action this time as Gaston's odious sidekick LeFou. Stanley Tucci, Audra MacDonald, Nathan Mack, Hattie Morahan, Henry Garan and Harriet Jones also star. It has been rumored (though not confirmed) that the filmmakers may aim to keep Stevens' "look" while in Beast form a secret until the actual release of the film.
Condon (who also previously directed Gods & Monsters, Kinsey, and the final two Twilight films) had previously committed to including classic songs from the original film as well as hotly-anticipated new music from original composers Alan Menken and Tim Rice. The filmmakers have stated their intention to essentially produce a big-budget stage musical for the screen, a contrast with other recent live-action Disney remakes which have downplayed the musical association.
Anticipation is sure to run high for the film, particularly given the esteemed reputation of the original and the huge success (both critically and commercially) afforded to previous live-action ventures like Maleficent and Cinderella. Disney continues to bet big on such remakes, with live-action features either based-on or inspired by the likes of 101 Dalmations, Dumbo and more currently planned for production over the next several years.
Beauty and the Beast opens in U.S. theaters on March 17th, 2017.
Source: Walt Disney Studios
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