Disney's live-action remake of The Sword in the Stone is reportedly looking to hire 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to helm the project. The studio has been on a roll in recent years with reimagined revivals of its animated classics, from the Oscar-winning effects of The Jungle Book to the box-office juggernaut Beauty and the Beast. The live-action remakes and reboots are far from over, with the Christopher Robin movie on the way later this year.
Disney has a huge year planned for live-action remakes in 2019, with Dumbo, Aladdin, and Mulan all planned for release. The Sword in the Stone is also on the list, as Disney is planning both a remake of the 1963 animated classic and a Merlin spinoff called The Merlin Saga, which Ridley Scott is rumored to direct. Now The Sword in the Stone has found a director of its own in Fresnadillo, and his background may surprise you.
THR first reported on Friday that Fresnadillo is "in negotiations" to direct The Sword in the Stone. The director is best known not for directing family-oriented films but the zombie sequel 28 Weeks Later. In addition to 28 Weeks Later, Fresnadillo also directed the fantastical horror thriller Intruders in 2011. He joins screenwriter Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) and producer Brigham Taylor, who also produced the Jungle Book remake. Louie Provost is overseeing the project for Disney.
Like the 1963 original, the live-action Sword in the Stone remake will be at least loosely adapted from T.H. White's novel of the same name. It follows a young King Arthur who receives mentorship from the powerful wizard Merlin. The first Sword in the Stone is notable for being the final Disney animated movie released before Walt Disney's death in 1966.
Fresnadillo was previously attached to direct the Highlander reboot, but ultimately left the production due to creative differences with Summit Entertainment. He was also attached to the upcoming reboot of The Crow in the past. The director clearly wants to get his feet wet with a fantasy project, so perhaps The Sword in the Stone is where he finally sticks.
Combine Fresnadillo with Cogman, who wrote Game of Thrones episodes like "The Broken Man" and "Blood of my Blood", and you have a formidable duo working on the project. Their recent work suggests that The Sword in the Stone will be a darker affair than other recent Disney remakes, and even the animated original had some darker elements to it. Despite the uncertain schedule for the remake, especially as it gets in line with the others, the identity of the project is starting to take shape.