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It’s official: Beauty and the Beast is getting a Disney+ prequel series.
Fifteen months after The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported that the streamer was in talks with Josh Gad and Luke Evans to reprise their roles from the 2017 feature film, Disney+ has handed out an eight-episode formal series order for the musical.
The limited series will also star Briana Middleton (Amazon’s upcoming George Clooney-directed feature The Tender Bar), who will portray LeFou’s (Gad) step-sister, Tilly. The prequel is set years before the Beast and Belle’s romance and follows Gaston (Evans) and LeFou as they set off with Tilly, after a surprising revelation from her past surfaces, sending the unlikely trio on a journey filled with romance, comedy and adventure. While the mysteries of the past are uncovered and the dangers of the present grow, old friends and new enemies reveal that this familiar kingdom harbors many secrets.
Once Upon a Time creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz will serve as showrunners alongside Gad. Gad, Kitsis, Horowitz and EGOT-winner Alan Menken will all exec produce, with the latter set to compose the soundtrack. Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed, Respect) will also exec produce and direct the pilot. Evans is credited as an exec producer. Gad, Kitsis and Horowitz will all write scripts. ABC Signature Studios is the studio on the Beauty and the Beast series, which hails from Disney’s Branded Television division. Production will begin in spring 2022. A premiere date has not yet been determined. No other stars from the film — like Emma Watson and Dan Stevens — are currently attached, though sources say there is a possibility that they could pop in for a guest spot. Walt Disney Records will release the soundtrack to the series.
“For anyone who’s ever wondered how a brute like Gaston and a goof like LeFou could have ever become friends and partners, or how a mystical enchantress came to cast that fateful spell on the prince-turned-beast, this series will finally provide those answers … and provoke a whole new set of questions,” said Gary Marsh, who was promoted last year from Disney Channel to president and chief creative officer of the recently launched Disney Branded Television.
The Beauty and the Beast prequel stemmed from Kitsis and Horowitz’s time working with Gad on the scrapped Muppets Live Another Day comedy series that was in the works for months at Disney+. The trio created the project, which was to be an eight-episode limited series that took place after the events of Muppets Take Manhattan. Conversations about the untitled Beauty and the Beast prequel began shortly after the trio decided to depart Muppets. It’s also worth noting that Kitsis and Horowitz briefly explored Beauty and the Beast during their time running ABC’s Disney-themed drama Once Upon a Time, with Robert Carlyle’s Rumpelstiltskin playing the Beast, while Emilie de Ravin was Belle. The duo, housed at ABC Signature with a rich overall deal, also are exec producing ABC’s Disney-themed fairy tale anthology pilot Epic.
“There are few more precious gems in the Disney library than this iconic franchise, and this prequel is both a love letter to what’s come before and its own spectacular adventure,” said ABC Signature president Jonnie Davis. “Josh, Eddy and Adam’s vision gives us a window into the origin of Luke’s Gaston and Josh’s LeFou with the twist of a new partner in crime — Tilly, played by the luminous Briana Middleton. This dream team would not be complete without the genius Alan Menken returning to write even more glorious music for the franchise he helped create. We’re so grateful to Gary, Ayo [Davis], Michael [Paull, Disney+ president] and everyone at Disney Branded Television and Disney+ for their unwavering support. We cannot wait to start shooting.”
Released in 2017, the live-action Beauty and the Beast feature grossed more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office. This is the latest Disney intellectual property to get the TV series treatment for Disney+, joining a growing slate of Marvel and Star Wars titles as well as Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., High School Musical, The Sandlot, Turner & Hooch and The Mighty Ducks, among others. Disney+ is also readying a massive Magic Kingdom TV franchise, featuring characters from Disney parks and Disney films, with Ron Moore (For All Mankind).
“For three decades, this tale as old as time has inspired generations of fans around the world,” said Paull, who also serves as president of ESPN+. “We can’t wait to welcome our guests back to the magical and musical world of Beauty and the Beast for an all-new chapter with LeFou, Gaston, and a fantastic new cast of characters.”
Gad’s credits include Avenue 5, Marshall and Apple’s animated comedy Central Park. He’s currently in production on Peacock series Wolf Like Me. He’s repped by WME, Sugar23 and Ziffren Brittenham. Evans is currently filming Apple’s Mark Boal drama Echo 3 and next has Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers. He’s with CAA, United Agents and Anonymous Content. Middleton is making her feature debut in Amazon’s The Tender Bar and is in production on Netflix’s The Last Will and Testament of Charles Abernathy. She’s with Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment.
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