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Disney’s Emma Stone-starring Cruella — in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on May 28 — will be the third live-action spinoff of the 1961 animated classic, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, itself based on the 1956 Dodie Smith novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians.
The first, 1996’s 101 Dalmatians, was the studio’s second attempt at turning a hand-drawn property into flesh and blood (its first was 1994’s The Jungle Book, which was later remade by Jon Favreau in 2016). Disney then-chairman Joe Roth championed Dalmatians, seeing a profitable path in live-action remakes (and how right he was). The legendary John Hughes wrote the script, updating the plot somewhat (Pongo’s dad, played by Jeff Daniels, is a video game designer) and, more notably, rendering the spotted stars unable to speak. To play the villainous Cruella de Vil, Hughes pitched the project directly to Glenn Close in New York, where she was starring in the Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard. She wasn’t interested at first, but Sunset Boulevard costume designer Anthony Powell convinced her of the movie’s potential. Ultimately, she signed on — and Powell, along with Rosemary Burrows, designed the costumes for Dalmatians.
Director Stephen Herek (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) opted to use real dogs on the massive set, which filmed at Shepperton Studios near London. This sent dalmatian clubs into a tizzy, concerned the puppies would be discarded after production.
“I guaranteed that the adoption of every single puppy used on the film would be prearranged,” producer Edward S. Feldman wrote in his memoir. “We built a dalmatian hotel at Shepperton, and the dogs were treated like royalty. Thirteen trainers were assigned to the puppies. … We needed 300 because we could only use them when they were 5 or 6 weeks old and at their cutest.”
The movie was a hit, grossing $136 million domestically ($232 million in 2021) on a $67 million budget ($114 million), leading Close to reprise the role for 102 Dalmatians in 2000.
This story first appeared in the May 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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