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NEW YORK – “Inconceivable?” No, “As you wish.”
Disney Theatrical Productions has announced plans to collaborate with William Goldman on a stage work based on his 1973 fairy tale, The Princess Bride, and on his screenplay for the beloved 1987 Rob Reiner film that became a cult classic.
The deal was shepherded by Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, who was involved with the screen version during his tenure at Castle Rock. No timeline or creative team for the show has been announced. Nor has it been decided if the project will be a musical or a play, though given the Disney stage arm’s predominant history with musicals, that seems a good bet.
“My involvement in The Princess Bride goes back to 1987 and it has always been close to my heart,” said Horn. “For all those years and a few more, I’ve been friends with the brilliant Bill Goldman, and to now have a stage production of this film in development at Disney is honestly a dream come true. It couldn’t be in better hands than those of the experienced Disney Theatrical team led by Tom Schumacher.”
Framed as a story told by a kindly old man to his ailing grandson, it spins a comic tale of love and adventure about Buttercup, a young beauty reluctantly engaged to the kingdom of Florin’s evil prince but kidnapped on the eve of their wedding. She is ultimately rescued by her farmboy sweetheart Westley, aided by a giant and a Spanish master swordsman.
Reiner’s movie starred Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest and Peter Falk. It was produced by Andrew Scheinman and Reiner, and executive produced by Norman Lear.
The Disney agreement will be welcome news for fans of the book and movie who got their hopes up when a stage musical based on the property was announced several years ago. Goldman collaborated on that project with Adam Guettel, the Tony-winning composer of The Light in the Piazza. But while much of the score was completed, development was halted in 2007 over a financial dispute.
No material from that aborted attempt will be used in the developing Disney version.
The powerhouse theatrical division’s long-running behemoth, The Lion King, recently passed the $1 billion box-office threshold on Broadway, marking a historic first. Disney will open its latest stage musical, Aladdin, on Broadway early next year, following the current Toronto tryout. Previews start Feb. 26 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, with opening night set for March 20.
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