Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Disney to Reboot Classic With "The Beast"

Disney's Beauty and the Beast statue & writer Joe Ahearne in the upper right
Let's see, so far as Beauty & the Beast goes, either currently in production or on the small screen, we have: 
Fan made "wish" poster for del Toro's B&tB

  • Christophe Gans' luscious looking French live action Beauty and the Beast (based on the original) with a release date of February 12 (or maybe 14), 2014.
  • There's the Guillermo del Toro live action version with Emma Watson confirmed as attached to play the female lead (the only news is that production won't happen this year as planned but at Cannes Ms. Watson confirmed that it IS going ahead in early 2014).*
  • And don't forget the CW's  hit Beauty & the Beast drama which is heading to ComicCon soon with spoilers & treats while gearing up for a second season (starting Monday, October 7 @ 9/8C)
  • Or the Belle/Rumple-beast ongoing story line of ABCs (also Disney) Once Upon A Time.
These are, of course, just the versions currently playing or in production and note I'm just counting reboots here - not replays of classics, or Broadway shows. Or books. Or art... (Is this one beloved tale or what, right now?!)

The CW's drama Beauty & the Beast

But would you like one more?
How about The Beast? By Disney.

Yes. You may have heard rumors about this earlier in the year but there's definitely going to be a Disney live-action reboot of the beloved animated film franchise. Although there isn't a whole lot of news just yet we have a few clues as to how this is going to go. The writer (still unconfirmed) in talks with Disney is Joe Ahearne, whose recent credits include the thriller, Trance

The title alone (The Beast) seems to throw the fairytale nature of the story aside, and bringing on a writer like Ahearne seems to indicate this will be a bit darker. Of course, this is Disney, and they just had a clash with Mark Romanek over his take on Cinderella which was said to be a little too dark for the studio, so they won't be going too crazy with a revisionist take on the story. This just goes to show you that the fairytale revamp trend isn't going anywhere...
And from Slashfilm:
From cartoon to life by Jirka Väätäinen
In short, live-action fairy tale reboots have been good business for Disney so far. So they’re keeping a good thing going by putting yet another one in the pipeline. This new one will be a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast called The Beast, and there’s some indication that it could get a little dark. The studio is currently in talks with writer Joe Ahearne, whose last script was Danny Boyle’s rather twisted-looking Trance.
Deadline reports that The Beast is likely to be in 3D. No plot details have been given at this time, but the title suggests that it’ll center around the Beast, rather than Beauty as traditional tellings usually do. Maybe we can finally get a good explanation as to why the witch in Disney’s 1991 cartoon thought cursing an entire household, servants and all, was an appropriate punishment for a young boy’s momentary rudeness.

Have you noticed one thing? They're all supposed to be "darker than Disney". All. Of. Them. Even the Disney one. (Although, perhaps not quite in the goth update manner shown below...)

As always the big concern is: "WHY?" If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? But people can't get enough of this story right now (as proven in the list above) and if Disney want to do another, they should go right ahead. There's been a trend of rebooting franchises over the past few years (Batman, Man of Steel, Captain America, Spiderman, The Avengers etc) and it's been met with a roaring success from the crowds - the same crowds that swore any attempt at retooling the stories was going to ruin it all forever. So it IS possible to do a good - and fresh - reboot of something people love (for the most part) and not stuff it up. (Not completely anyway.)  ;)

And, it turns out, Disney has a good chance of getting it right on this one too because there's another bit of interesting information quietly out there as far as Disney being interested in retelling THEIR Beauty and the Beast story...

Author Serena Valentino, who has a publishing contract with Disney and wrote the truly wonderful Fairest of All (a retelling of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from the perspective of the Wicked Queen) is working on a retelling of Disney's Beauty & the Beast, titled The Beast Within. Ms. Valentino really knows her fairy tales and is a very gifted writer. To be honest I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Disney having someone retell their blockbuster Snow White from the villains perspective but I was blown away by how Ms. Valentino handled it. (I can't say enough good things about all her writing and stories! I think she must have a "olde" fairy godmother muse with a dark sense of humor and some deep roots in myth. You can read my blog entry on that book, with samples included to give you a taste, HERE.)

Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast
As a result I've been waiting for this book, The Beast Within,  ever since reading Fairest.

From Serena Valentino's website:
I am currently writing a new novel for Disney Publishing based on the Beast from Disney’s film Beauty and the Beast. I am very excited to explore the Beast’s past and what he did to become cursed, while weaving in my own sensibilities, and drawing upon inspirations from Jean Cocteau’s version and a bit of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray for good measure.
I will be interviewing Ms. Valentino shortly so don't want to say too much more right now, but clearly this has been an idea in the works for Disney for quite some time - ever since Fairest Of All was released in mid-2009 at the least, and I'm fairly certain they were looking at a number of movies 9SleepingBeauty included) for the potential to make into "something else" as well. (Hello Maleficent!)

 It's been quite a while now so I had forgotten about Ms. Valentino's pending release until the news that Disney was looking at rebooting their version popped back up. I can't help wonder if the ideas (of book from the Beast's POV and the proposed movie) are related in any way and if Mr. Ahearne will be chatting to Ms. Valentino about his version...

Even if these two (very different) writers don't get to talk about The Beast, the fact that Disney would consider retellings like Fairest of All, under their brand name at all, along with some of the very different things they've allowed on Once Upon A Time, shows me they more open to true retellings** and are branching out beyond being just a sequel studio or repackaging past successes. So I'm just going to sit back and see what they do. (Besides, I like good surprises.)
Belle & the chipped cup from ABC's Once Upon A Time
And of course, everyone will be wondering: Are we going to get a Once Upon A Time movie version of visuals (see above)?

Or a live action version of the animated visuals? 

(Like the Annie Liebovitz version here.)

Or will we be treated to something entirely new? (Note: the Valentino design below is one of a series of "princess dress designs" based on the Disney movies and although you can see Disney in there, more than a few of them are beautifully original "reboots" which I wouldn't mind seeing on a screen.)

My other question is, Cocteau having bodiless, silent candlestick servants is a (very much darker) world away from singing cutlery. I wonder how they're going to handle that?

As far as the movie goes, there is no director attached yet or any rumors of stars being considered for roles but if I hear anything otherwise I'll let you know!

* We do know that del Toro's work load is rather... loaded! He already had multiple projects all further along in development or filming when B&tB was announced so we're not expecting to see anything for a while yet. The next fairy tale we'll see from him will likely be Pinocchio.
** It doesn't mean I like everything they're doing that different - obviously. I have a lot of issues with Once Upon A Time, for example but at the same time, I'm so very pleased to see types being stretched (and combined) beyond what has been typical of Disney in the past.

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