As Disney’s D23 expo wraps up for another year, and San Diego Comic Con already imminent, the studio’s rich slate of upcoming features was revealed to a hungry audience. The usual suspects were there – no fewer than six entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the latest Pixar animations (including Coco and a sequel to The Incredibles), more Star Wars movies, and the next batch of live-action remakes of beloved classics, with The Lion King standing out as a fan favorite.
All in all, the release schedule of 21 films from now until the end of 2019 was heavily defined by its familiarity. The vast majority of projects are sequels or remakes. Amidst this full slate, there were two films that stood out for their relative freshness: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, an adaptation of the classic ballet, and A Wrinkle in Time. While the reception for the news on the former was pleasant, if somewhat muted, the reactions for the first sneak peak at Ava DuVerney’s adaptation of the Newbery Medal winning classic children’s novel were rapturous. After the premiere of the trailer, social media responses were highly positive, and as of the writing of this piece, the trailer on Disney’s official YouTube page has been viewed over 2.8million times. Some critics seem surprised by the enthusiasm for the film, but it is that excitement that could help change the game at Disney.
In many ways, A Wrinkle in Time has already changed the game in the Hollywood based film industry. It’s the first film with a budget of over $100m to be directed by a woman of color (and the third by any woman director, after Kathryn Bigelow’s K-19: The Widowmaker and Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman). Ava DuVernay, director of the Oscar nominated films Selma and 13th, had originally met with Disney for talks to direct Marvel’s Black Panther, but pulled out over questions of creative control. Her remaining with Disney to helm a project such as A Wrinkle in Time suggests she negotiated well to maintain that power over the end film. The story, centred on a young girl named Meg Murry who is forced to travel to strange planets to save her scientist father, is a fascinating genre mishmash of science-fiction, fantasy, and coming-of-age drama, which would prove tough for any director to adapt (a made-for-TV movie was released in 2003, but was negatively received and author Madeleine L’Engle reportedly hated it).
On top of that, various characters in the story have undergone a race change, including Meg (Storm Reid) and her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), as well as two of the supernatural beings, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey). Before any of us had even seen a second of footage, DuVernay was already opening doors at Disney. While the studio has made progress in terms of the gender and racial makeup of its directors, the vast majority are still white men, with DuVernay accounting for one of only three women alongside Niki Caro, who will direct Mulan, and Anna Boden, one of the directors of Captain Marvel.
Next Page: A Victory for Diversity
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