To you or me, Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland might be a mediocre-to-poor adaptation of a fairy tale, with lukewarm performances, uninspired visuals, and bad 3-D effects. To Disney, Alice In Wonderland was an enormous hit; inexplicably, it grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. In short order, Disney began greenlighting more live-action versions of their classic fairy tales: Maleficent, based on Sleeping Beauty, just opened to the tune of $180 million worldwide; next year, Disney’s fitting Lily James for Cinderella’s glass slipper, and giving Jon Favreau the bare necessities required for a new version of The Jungle Book.
We’ll know the well is running dry when they try to make a live-action Great Mouse Detective. But for now, there are plenty more big Disney animated classics with huge name-recognition to exploit and repackage; Variety reports that the next one into the pipeline is a live-action remake of 1991’s Beauty And The Beast, one of the company’s most beloved films, and the first animated movie in history to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. This new version will be written by Evan Spiliotopoulos (Brett Ratner’s Hercules, many Disney direct-to-video sequels) and helmed by Bill Condon, the director of Gods And Monsters, Kinsey, and, most recently, the Wikileaks biopic The Fifth Estate.
Condon has ample experience with musicals, having written the screenplay for Rob Marshall’s Chicago and directed the film version of the Broadway show Dreamgirls. Plus he’s already made a live-action beauty and the beast of sorts with his two Twilight films, Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2. Beauty And The Beast really is a tale as old as time, and it’s worked well in live-action form many times before; of all these live-action adaptations, Condon may have gotten the best assignment of the lot. Now it’s up to him to make something that lives up to its potential, both for fans and for the Disney executives who are no doubt expecting this movie to exceed Alice In Wonderland at the box office.