12:30pm PT by Philiana Ng
Disney Channel Orders Original Movie Centered on Iconic Villains' Kids
Disney Channel is bringing a new twist to its iconic villains.
Descendants, a contemporary live-action adventure-comedy, digs into the Disney vault of beloved characters -- and well-known villains -- to introduce a modern-day generation of teenagers (the "descendants") who question the evil that's always been inside. Production begins in the spring for a 2015 premiere.
Kenny Ortega, who directed the hugely successful High School Musical franchise for Disney Channel, will be back at the helm.
Descendants is set in a present-day idyllic kingdom, with the benevolent teenage son of the King and Queen (Beast and Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast) poised to take the throne. His first proclamation: offer a chance at redemption to the troublemaking offspring of Cruella De Vil (Carlos), Maleficent (Mal), the Evil Queen (Evvie) and Jafar (Jay), who have been imprisoned on a forbidden island with the other villains, sidekicks, evil stepmothers and stepsisters.
The descendants are allowed into the kingdom to attend prep school alongside Disney heroes like the Fairy Godmother, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Mulan. However, the evil teens face a dilemma. Should they follow in their parents' footsteps and help the villains regain power or embrace their goodness and save the kingdom?
Josanna McGibbon and Sara Parriott (The Starter Wife, Runaway Bride, Desperate Housewives) penned the script.
Casting already is underway on the project with casting directors Natalie Hart and Jason La Padura (High School Musical, Camp Rock, Teen Beach Movie).
"We mined Disney's treasure trove of stories and developed a new, comedic approach to the fabled characters everyone knows and loves," said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer at Disney Channels Worldwide. "The result is a modern and unexpected re-interpretation of classic heritage characters utilizing contemporary, relatable settings and themes."
The news comes months after Disney Channel's Teen Beach Movie drew a monster 13.5 million viewers in live-plus-seven this past July, making it the No. 2 most-watched cable TV movie behind 2007's High School Musical 2. Original TV movies have proven a boon for Disney Channel, which already is readying the 2014 launches of the Zendaya-led Zapped!, based on the novel Boys Are Dogs, and How to Build a Better Boy, starring China Anne McClain.
Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, both airing on sister network ABC, have heavily featured Disney fairy-tale characters. Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie in the title role, hits theaters May 30.