This past weekend, Disney received yet another indication that they are sitting on a goldmine of intellectual property within their vault of animated classics. The formula has now been proven with multiple films such as Alice in Wonderland and The Jungle Book, which have combined to gross over two billion dollars and that’s not counting other movies like Cinderella, Pete’s Dragon, and Maleficent. Their latest effort, Beauty and the Beast, just broke records with an enormous $174 million dollar opening, so it’s time to start looking at what else is coming down the pipeline.
Pandora’s box has been opened, now director Jon Favreau is busy at work on the live-action version of The Lion King, Tim Burton on Dumbo, as well as Niki Caro’s Mulan and Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin. Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast was another faithful adaptation, however it seems that Disney may be taking some creative gambles with future productions.
King Arthur director Guy Ritchie has raised the most eyebrows, in regards to him being hired to direct Aladdin. In a recent interview with Vulture, Disney president of Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey, explained why the studio tapped Ritchie to direct the anticipated film:
“Guy became interested in doing a Disney movie and we talked a lot about it. When we talked about Aladdin, he said, ‘My stories are really about street hustlers. That’s what I know how to do. And Aladdin is a classic street hustler who makes good.’ Guy’s got his own version of that story in his life. But he wanted to honor and respect the Disney of it all…We never want to feel like we have a playbook to these things because we worry it’ll make us creatively complacent. The idea of a highly energized Guy Ritchie Disney musical felt like, Oh, we haven’t done that before.”
The thought of a Guy Ritchie Disney musical certainly wasn’t on most people’s minds or chat boards. The British filmmaker has made his career on hard-hitting crime movies that almost always slant towards a more mature audience, so his selection to helm an Aladdin film is curious.
Bailey then shifted his attention to the developing Mulan film and explained:
“Mulan is clearly an empowered-female story but we can also do something new in this reimagining, make it a little more muscular, stronger, with touch of Ridley Scott. Obviously the idea of working with collaborators in China is an interesting opportunity too.”
The upcoming adaptation will not be carrying over the songs and musical numbers of the animated version and will be heavy in drama and martial arts. The Ridley Scott comparison seems to signal that the movie will have an epic feel, while the collaboration with China means that the movie is assured to be an international success.
Bailey also explained that as of now, there’s a calendar limit to Disney’s adaptations of their animated films. They only intend on giving Disney movies the live-action treatment that were made before the year 2000. This makes sense, as it gives the given movie a chance to marinate for at least a generation. Which will result in higher levels of nostalgia and presumably more dollars at the box-office. Regardless, it seems to be a great time to be a Disney fan.
Mulan is set to open on November 2nd, 2018. Aladdin does not have a set release date.