Ever since Alice in Wonderland became a $1bn success for Disney – for pity’s sake, don’t mention Through the Looking Glass – the House of Mouse have set about replicating their animated successes of the past with ‘live-action’ remakes.
Cinderella was a charming delight, The Jungle Book a triumph and Beauty and the Beast a joyful escapade in froth.
When Disney run out of animated classics to remake in the ‘live-action’ format, can viewers expect animated remakes of live-action classics?
That day is, however, a long way off. Here are all the ‘live-action’ remakes coming your way…
1. Christopher Robin (17 August 2018) – RELEASED
Not exactly a remake; more: a live-action re-imagination of Disney’s Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh from 1977.
Perhaps hoping to replicate the success of the Paddington films, Christopher Robin comes from Finding Neverland director Marc Foster.
Ewan McGregor stars in the film as the titular character grown up, having left his childhood imagination far behind. The past comes rushing back into his life, however, when his old friends from the hundred acre wood – Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eyeore – return to shake things up.
2. Dumbo (29 March 2019)
On paper, a Tim Burton directed remake of Disney’s 1941 weepy sounds odd. And yet, the first trailer was gorgeous and the cast list is promising.
Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green and Danny DeVito all appear in the film, which takes the familiar story down a new avenue with a new plot.
This one isn’t a musical but the trailer did feature a haunting rendition of the original film’s ‘Baby Mine’ by Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora. Dry your eyes now.
3. Aladdin (19 May 2019)
Another odd directorial choice – Guy Ritchie – and another 2019 release date.
Whilst confirming that the original music from 1992’s Aladdin would play a big part in the remake – including new songs by Alan Menken and La La Land‘s Pasek and Paul – Disney have said that the film would be ‘ambitious and nontraditional’. Risky.
Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott have been cast as Aladdin and Princess Jasmine respectively, with Will Smith – once touted to appear in Dumbo – playing the Genie. Robin Williams has big shoes to fill in this one.
4. The Lion King (19 July 2019)
A third 2019 remake release for Disney is Jon Favreau’s The Lion King.
Whilst three remakes in six months feels like too much, this one is worth getting excited about. Not least as it comes from the man who masterminded The Jungle Book.
James Earl Jones is the only member of the 1994 cast to reprise his role, once again playing Mufasa. He’s joined this time by Donald Glover (Simba), Beyoncé (Nala), Chiwetel Ekiofor (Scar), Billy Eichner (Timon) and Seth Rogan (Pumbaa).
Four songs from the original film have been penned to feature – ‘Can Your Feel the Love Tonight’, ‘Hakuna Matata’, ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’ and ‘Circle of Life’ – with Hans Zimmer and a pre-retirement Elton John both on-board.
5. Mulan (27 March 2020)
The original 1998 animation of Mulan wasn’t quite the smash-hit of other Disney films being remade but it remains a popular one with fans.
This live-action update comes from Niki Caro, director of The Zookeeper’s Wife, and sees Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei play the titular hero of legend.
Mulan is to be only the second high-budget Disney film directed by a woman and is currently in production.
6. Maleficent II (29 May 2019)
Angelina Jolie returns to play Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis-turned-missunderstood-godmother in this Joachim Rønning sequel.
The first film was a loose remake of Disney’s classic animation Sleeping Beauty but this second has a clean slate for creativity.
Even though Maleficent was a big success in 2014, critical success was mixed – largely because the first twenty minutes of the film were pretty dreadful. Jolie, on the other hand, was spectacular.
7. Cruella (TBC)
Emma Stone has been attached to this 101 Dalmations update, which is set to focus on the origins of baddie Cruella de VIl, for some time now.
Originally voiced by Betty Lou Gerson in Disney’s 1961 film – itself based on Dodie Smith’s 1956 book – Cruella was brought memorably into live-action by Glenn Close in both 1996 and 2000.
Mozart in the Jungle co-creator Alex Timbers is said to be in negotiations to direct but little more is known about the project.
8. Lady and the Tramp (TBC)
This ‘live-action’ remake is to be used as a headline draw for Disney’s upcoming digital streaming service. With that set to launch next year we can expect Lady and the Tramp to debut on it soon after.
Charlie Bean (The Lego Ninjago Movie) will direct the film, which has just this week announced the casting of Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok) as Lady and Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train) as her Tramp.
Ashley Jensen and Benedict Wong will also voice dogs, whilst Kiersey Clemons is to play Lady’s human owner, Darling.
9. The Second Jungle Book (TBC)
After the huge critical and commercial success of The Jungle Book, of course Disney ordered a sequel.
Jon Favreau is to return as director, with Justin Marks set to write the new script and Neel Sethi reported to be reprising his role of Mowgli.
With Favreau pre-occupied with The Lion King right now, this one could be some time off yet.
10. Lilo and Stitch (TBC)
Another animated favourite up for a live action remake is Chris Sanders’ 2002 Hawaiian hit Lilo and Stitch.
Featuring the vocal talents of Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere and Ving Rhames, the film told the story of an orphan who adopts the lively alien she finds at a dog shelter.
The new film will be scripted by Mike Van Waes and has Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich – also behind Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin – as producers.
11. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (TBC)
The latest to join the list is The Hunchback of Notre Dame, itself an adaptation of Victor Hugo novel ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’ of 1831.
Tony Award winning writer David Henry Hwang is attached to write the script, with Josh Gad set to produce and potentially star – we can see it. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz will produce new music, having worked on the original.
Providing it reaches the screen, the film will be the fourteenth adaptation of Hugo’s story – not including Disney’s direct-to-video The Hunchback of Notre Dame II – but no release date has been set.
Also in the pipeline…
Disney have announced so many films for the next decade that its hard to keep up. After his success in remaking Pete’s Dragon, David Lowery has apparently been commissioned to give Peter Pan the same treatment. A live-action Tinkerbell has also been green-lit.
Potentially joining Lady and the Tramp on Disney’s new digital service could be a remake of The Sword in the Stone. Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) is currently drafting a screenplay, with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo supposedly in talks to direct.
An obvious choice for a remake – after Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin – is fellow Disney Renaissance film The Little Mermaid. Nothing is known about plans for a remake beyond the fact that Disney is keen.
Just for good measure, Disney have also put out feelers for a live-action Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was ‘the one that started it all’ after all.