'Mulan,' 'Cruella' and 'Dumbo' are just a few of the films in the works, with some offering new twists on the well-known tales (Snow White had a sister?!).
It turns out that the tales as old as time are top performers at the box office.
Disney's experiment with live-action retellings of its animated classics began in 2010 with Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Then came 2014's Maleficent, the Sleeping Beauty origin story starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning; 2015's Cinderella adaptation with Lily James and Cate Blanchett, 2016's star-studded actioner The Jungle Book helmed by Jon Favreau, and 2017's movie-musical Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson as Belle.
The studio continues to mine its animated archives for live-action material. See all the retellings that Disney has in the works.
The 1998 animation epic — which included Ming-Na Wen, BD Wong, Eddie Murphy and Harvey Fierstein among the voice cast — centered on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, the female warrior who disguises herself as a man to take her father's place in war. Whale Rider helmer Niki Caro is set to direct the live-action retelling from a script by Jurassic World’s Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, along with Bill Kong, who produced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, as executive producer. The film's announcement brought controversy in early 2017 after the original script Disney purchased featured non-Chinese characters, including a white man as the lead, but the company has since announced all characters will remain Chinese with the new script. The film was originally scheduled for a November 2018 release but has been pushed back until 2020. After auditioning more than 1000 actresses for Mulan, a role that requires martial arts skills, Chinese actress Liu Yifei, who also goes by Crystal Liu, was chosen for the part. She has become one of China's most popular actresses in recent years, and has acted in American films as well, with 2008's The Forbidden Kingdom and 2014's Outcast.
Director: Niki Caro
Cast: Liu Yifei (also known as Crystal Liu), Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Gong Li
Release Date: March 27, 2020
Jon Favreau, who directed 2016's live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, is tackling a re-imagining of The Lion King as a live-action/CGI feature with a script by Jeff Nathanson. James Earl Jones is reprising his role as patriarch Mufasa, opposite Donald Glover as Simba. The Savannahan-set animated film stands as one of the highest grossing animated films of all time, taking in $968.8 million worldwide at the box office and won two Oscars for original song and score. Hans Zimmer, who worked on the original, will again do the score for the film, which started production in summer 2017.
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Donald Glover, Beyonce, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key
Release Date: July 19, 2019
Format: Live-action/ CGI
In the vein of Maleficent, Cruella will star Emma Stone as the fashion-forward, Dalmatian-loving, chain-smoking Cruella de Vil, who was also portrayed by Glenn Close in the 1996 John Hughes-produced live-action movie. Alex Timbers is directing the origin story from a script by Saving Mr. Banks' Kelly Marcel.
Alice In Wonderland helmer Tim Burton is taking on Dumbo with a live-action/CG adaptation from a script by Ehren Kruger. Based on the classic animated 1941 movie about a baby circus elephant who is made fun of for his large ears and is separated from his mother, the retelling stars Eva Green, Danny DeVito and Colin Farrell, and expands on the circus aspect of the story. Production of the film started in July 2017.
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Alan Arkin, Eva Green
Release Date: March 29, 2019
Also to be part of the live-action world is a live-action musical adaptation of The Little Mermaid, following a mermaid princess who struck a bargain with a sea-witch in order to meet a human prince on land. Hamilton and Moana composer Lin-Manuel Miranda has signed on to produce and compose additional tunes alongside the original 1989 film's composer Alan Menken. Marc Platt will also produce.
Angelina Jolie is set to return as the titular villain who first appeared in 1959's Sleeping Beauty. Alice Through the Looking Glass screenwriter Linda Woolverton is penning the script. Released in 2014, Maleficent grossed $758 million worldwide. Joachim Ronning, who directed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, is in talks to direct with Joe Roth producing. Production is set to begin in early 2018. In April it was announced Ed Skrein would play the villain opposite Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer will play a queen.
Director: Joachim Ronning
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Skrein
A sequel was green lit a week before the 2016 release of The Jungle Book, which featured a voice cast with Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken and Bill Murray, and grossed $966 worldwide. Jon Favreau is set to direct once again from a script by Justin Marks, which will dig deeper into Rudyard Kipling's stories about the bond between man-cub Mowgli and the residents of the Indian Jungle. (Another Jungle Book adaptation, titled Mowgli, is set to hit theaters Oct. 19, 2018, via Warner Bros. Pictures. The movie is directed by Andy Serkis, who also stars alongside Rohan Chand, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, and Benedict Cumberbatch.)
The boy who never grows up is getting the live-action treatment. Director David Lowery is collaborating with his Pete’s Dragon screenwriter Toby Halbrooks for a take on the 1953 animated classic based on J.M. Barrie’s beloved novel.
Reese Witherspoon is set to produce and star in a live-action movie that explores the origin of Peter Pan's fairy companion. Finding Dory screenwriter Victoria Strouse is penning the script on the animated classic's supporting character. Insiders say the movie (with a more modest, midrange budget) will play with the idea and the timeline of the well-known Peter Pan and share “the story you don’t know.”
Who is the fairest of them all? A live-action musical adaptation of Disney's first animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is in the works, with a script from Girl on the Train screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson. The movie, which will expand on the story of the 1937 classic, will include new songs from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul of La La Land and Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Marc Platt, who also is working with Disney on the sequel Mary Poppins Returns, is producing.
Though didn't appear in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White's sister appeared in the original Grimm's fairytales and will be the subject of the live-action film. The revisionist story takes place after Snow White's fatal bite from the poison apple, leaving her estranged sister Rose Red to undertake a dangerous quest with the dwarves to find a way to break the curse. Justin Merz penned the script with a pitch by Evan Daugherty, who wrote Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman.
Guy Ritchie is directing a live-action musical adaptation of the 1992 animated film, which follows a street-wise youth who tries to woo a princess and defeat an evil sorcerer (with the help of a beloved genie, of course). With a script by Big Fish's John August, the movie sent out a casting notice calling for Middle Eastern actors to audition for its leads, and after a four month open-casting call, began production in August 2017.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari
Release Date: May 24, 2019
Format: Live-action musical
The live-action prequel was intended to focus on the realm of the Genies and reveal how Aladdin's Genie — famously voiced by the late Robin Williams in the 1992 animated feature — ended up in that lamp. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who wrote Dwayne Johnson's Baywatch movie, were set to pen the adventure comedy. However, the project hit a legal roadblock thanks to Williams' will, which restricts the exploitation of his Image for 25 years after death. The actor-comedian died in 2014.
The beloved puppet could become a real boy on the big screen. Peter Hedges, who penned What's Eating Gilbert Grape and About a Boy, is writing a script loosely based on the original 1940 animated classic. Paul King, who directed the Paddington movies, will helm the project, with hopes to start production this fall
Robert Downey Jr. is also spearheading a live-action rendition of Pinocchio at Warner Bros., which has Ron Howard attached to direct.
The Aurthurian-inspired 1963 fantasy was the last film that Disney released before patriarch Walt Disney's death in 1966. The live-action version is being written by someone who is familiar with sword fights and the medieval vernacular: Game of Thrones writer-producer Bryan Cogman. Jungle Book producer Brigham Taylor is also on board.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, perhaps best known for directing the zombie thriller 28 Weeks Later, is in negotiations to helm The Sword in the Stone.
Though Disney has released numerous movies about Winnie the Pooh that see the beloved bear on an eternal search for both honey and friendship, a live-action movie is coming in August. Alex Ross Perry penned the adaptation based on A.A. Milne's characters, as the film sees Christopher Robin returning as an adult to revisit his hangout in the Hundred Acre Woods.
Director: Marc Forster
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo
Release Date: August 3, 2018
Prince Charmings have long been fixtures in Disney animations like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, but this live-action movie will put them at the center of the fairytale. Stephen Chbosky, whose projects include The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Wonder, has signed on as writer-director for the film, returning to live-action after working on Emma Watson's Beauty and the Beast as a writer. The story will offer a look at the prince from the view of his brother, who never lived up to the royal family name. Matt Fogel, who was the assistant to Phil Lord and Chris Miller on the animation Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, penned the original script. David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman of Mandeville Films/TV — the production company also behind Beauty and the Beast— will produce, along with Tripp Vinson.
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Okay, so it's not based on an animated classic, but a big-screen version of Chip ‘n’ Dale, Disney’s classic cartoon chipmunk duo, is in the works. Robert Rugan is writing an updated take on the characters in what is being envisioned as a live-action/CG hybrid. First popularized in a 1943 animated short, the film will jump off from the 1989 series Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers, in which the titular chipmunks ran a detective agency and helped animal clients.