Disney's Lady and the Tramp remake features real dogs, rather than computer-animated ones. The Mouse House has reaped big box office returns from its live-action reimaginings of animated films like Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast, and has even more live-action retellings headed down the assembly line. At the same time, some of these movies have started to blur the line between being "live-action" and simply being CGI "updates" of traditionally-animated Disney classics.
2019's The Lion King remake, in particular, has long been referred to as a live-action movie, yet it only features CGI animals and African settings. There's already a debate underway about whether Lion King still counts as live-action, given its use of photorealism and traditional photography. Wherever the discussion evolves from here, the Lady and the Tramp retelling won't be part of it - since, as it turns out, the film's humans, settings, and animals alike are all real.
Collider recently interviewed Thomas Mann about his new film, Maine, and the discussion eventually turned to Lady and the Tramp (which Mann costars in as Lady's owner aka. Jim Dear). When asked what excites him the most about the project, Mann revealed that Lady, the Tramp, and their various canine companions are all played by flesh-and-blood dogs in the film:
I really think it’s an enhanced version of the world that you saw before. Obviously, the human characters are a little more flushed out. They’re not these passing faces that you barely get a glimpse of. You get to know them a little bit better. And also, there are real dogs. Who doesn’t want to see two real dogs kiss over a plate of spaghetti? That is the main draw for me. You get the charisma of real dogs in there. Lady and the Tramp came out in 1955. I understand people who are like, “Don’t mess with the original,” but they aren’t re-animating it. It’s a live-action remake. So, why not?
The animated Lady and the Tramp (an adaptation of Ward Greene's book Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog) hit theaters in 1955 and told the tale of Lady, an American Cocker Spaniel from a middle-class family who is romanced by a stray dog known as "the Tramp". Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux are voicing Lady and the Tramp in the live-action remake, with Ashley Jensen lending her voice to Jackie (a gender-swapped version of Lady's Scottish Terrier neighbor, Jock, in the animated feature). Mann, however, didn't clarify if the dogs in Lady and the Tramp will have digitally animated mouths added in post-production, or if audiences will simply be able to hear their voices (a la older Disney live-action films like Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey).
Since Lady and the Tramp is a lower-budgeted production that will premiere exclusively on Disney's streaming service, Disney Plus, after it launches next fall, it stands to reason the dogs will "speak" via their thoughts rather than their mouths (unlike Disney's live-action Jungle Book). That might be for the best too, seeing as audiences are still somewhat divided on the best approach to having animals talk in live-action movies. That way, like Mann noted, the remake will be able to blend the real dogs' natural playfulness with equally expressive voice performances from Thompson, Theroux, and their fellow animal actors.
We will bring you more details on Lady and the Tramp as they become available.