Disney has picked up the pitch for Sadé, a live-action fairy tale film about an African princess. The project doesn't have a director in place just yet, but Rick Famuyiwa (the filmmaker behind the acclaimed indie hit Dope) is already attached as a producer on the movie.
For the most part, the Mouse House's recent in-house live-action features have all been remakes or re-imaginings of their classic animated movies (see The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and so on). There have, of course, been exceptions to that rule (see Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time) and there will be even more arriving in 2019, when Disney releases both Kenneth Branagh's Artemis Fowl adaptation and the Dwayne Johnson-led Jungle Cruise movie. However, even in those cases, the projects are based on some pre-established IP and/or adapted from a famous book series. Sadé, on the other hand, is a brand-new and properly original creation.
According to Deadline, Sadé is based on a pitch by lesser-knowns Lindsey Reed Palmer and Ola Shokunbi, who are also onboard to write the film for the Mouse House. The plot revolves around the titular princess, a young African girl who uses her newfound magical powers to protect her kingdom (and its people) from an evil force, with the assistance of the kingdom's prince. Famuyiwa, as was mentioned earlier, is currently set to produce the movie for Disney. However, he probably won't end up directing it, given how many other projects he's attached to helm at the moment (including, Netflix's superhero movie Past Midnight and the Black Hole comic book adaptation).
As such, Sadé will be the first African fairy tale princess film released by the studio and the second project to feature a black Disney princess, after the 2009 animated musical The Princess and the Frog. Of course, the Mouse House did technically release a movie with an African princess earlier this year - namely, Marvel Studios' Black Panther, which features Letitia Wright as the Wakandan royal daughter, Shuri. In all seriousness though, Sadé is an important step in the studio's ongoing push to be more inclusive, with respect to both onscreen representation and behind the scenes talent.
Similarly, it's good to see the studio green-lighting more original live-action features, to go along with the many live-action/CGI remakes and sequels it has in the pipeline (see: Mary Poppins Returns, Maleficent II). To be fair, Disney has enjoyed a great deal of commercial and critical success with its fairy tale retellings thus far, and will no doubt continue to do so in the future. Nevertheless, more original ideas and concepts are always welcome - and a proper African Disney princess adventure like Sadé is something that's long overdue from the company.
We will bring you more details on Sadé as they become available.