8:30am PT by Graeme McMillan
5 More Fairy Tales Ready to Magically Become Live-Action Movies
With the release of Cinderella on March 13 — and this week's news that Dan Stevens will be joining Emma Watson in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast — you could be forgiven for having big-screen live-action fairy tales on the brain. While the genre hasn't achieved superhero-level success yet, it's clearly not going anywhere any time soon. But with so many options to choose from, which stories should be turned into CGI-filled magic next?
Looking at the extensive back catalog of Disney animated movies, it's getting difficult to choose potential live-action remakes; many of the most obvious choices already have been taken. We've seen Snow White and the Huntsman (and also Mirror Mirror), Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent (aka Sleeping Beauty). Cinderella is close to release and The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast are also on their way. Even some more obscure, less-fairy-tale movies have been plucked for development, with Pete's Dragon and a second live-action take on 101 Dalmatians (this time called Cruella de Vil) having been mentioned in the past. Where, then, should filmmakers be looking for future material? Here are some suggestions.
The pitch: Everyone knows the basics of the Pinocchio story, allowing any potential remake to push the focus of the story away from the little wooden boy and onto his father, who has to watch a puppet he makes (and loves) transform into flesh and blood. What's his story?
The talent: Obviously, Russell Crowe is a natural to play Geppetto, having both the bearded gravitas and experience (thanks to his Man of Steel role) to play the father to a much-loved childhood icon. Bringing Crowe on board would make it easier to get Ridley Scott to direct, too. I know, Scott would be an offbeat choice for a project like this, but just imagine how epic the whale sequences could be with him at the helm.
The Little Mermaid
The pitch: It's actually surprising that we haven't seen a live-action Little Mermaid yet; it's got all the classic elements of fairy tales, including true love, a handsome prince and someone or something getting transformed. Any Disney-sanctioned remake also has access to the great songs from the 1989 animated version, which raises the obvious point: Why do anything other than a live-action musical version of the animated film? It could be Into the Woods — but brighter and more colorful.
The talent: Anyone considering making a live-action Little Mermaid musical and not considering Taylor Swift for the lead immediately should reconsider the choice. As far as who should take on the role of Ursula, the Sea Witch, I confess that my first thought is whether Parks and Recreation's Retta can sing …
The Sword in the Stone
The pitch: We've seen many cinematic takes on Arthurian myth, but what differentiates Sword in the Stone is the tone of the movie; the poster promised a "Whiz-Bang Wizard of Whimsy," and that could be the key to a live-action remake — treating the familiar Arthurian tales as the basis for comedy. Well, that and focusing on Arthur as a young boy called "Wart," which remains wonderfully amusing to this day for reasons that I can't explain.
The talent: Although they're clearly very busy at the moment, it'd be interesting to see what Chris Miller and Phil Lord could do with this material, especially given their success with The Lego Movie's very precise brand of upbeat, positive satire. Bring on Ian McKellen to play Merlin — we know that he does bearded wizards pretty well, after all — and give the Wart role to a newcomer.
The Black Cauldron
The pitch: A semiforgotten Disney classic from the era when people really weren't paying attention to Disney's animated movies, a Black Cauldron remake offers immediate access to a fantasy franchise, given its origins in the novels of Lloyd Alexander. Considering that few remember the original movie and that YA fiction is proving to be a source for successful movie franchises in current movie trends, a straight-up adaptation of the original source material seems like a no-brainer.
The talent: It's unlikely that he'd be interested, but I'd love to find out what Edgar Wright would do with straight-up fantasy material, given his distinctive visual style and particularly contemporary sense of humor. Also, perhaps that means we could have Simon Pegg as Fflewddur Fflam. (Also, we all can agree that Dwayne Johnson should play the Horned King, right?)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The pitch: While the animated nature of Disney's Hunchback potentially muffled some of the darker and more pointed elements of its critique of hypocrisy and organized religion (and the crossover between the two), any potential live-action remake shouldn't feel compelled to soften that side of things. After all, if Maleficent and Cinderella can position themselves as quasi-"dark" takes on their traditional stories, why not go properly dark for once?
The talent: Having shown that he can win over audiences with voiceover roles in Disney movies, let's see if Josh Gad could do the same as a grotesque romantic lead. Have him play opposite Emma Stone as Esmeralda, with Andrew Garfield playing Phoebus for additional meta-humor for the older members of the audience. Who would play Djali, Esmeralda's pet goat, remains a mystery, however. I wonder if Benedict Cumberbatch gives good baaaaah … ?