UPDATE: A couple of new details here. You might be wondering, since the original report doesn't mention any story details, how exactly this thing is going to play out. Sources tell HitFix that Condon won't only be drawing from the 1991 Disney film. In his pitch to the studio, the director said he would also include most, if not all, of the Menken/Rice songs from the Broadway musical that ran for 13 years from 1994 to 2007. It will be a “straight-forward, live action, large-budget movie musical,” we're told.
See below for the earlier story.
EARLIER: With “Maleficent” hitting big (though, contextually, not as big as the breathless media seems to think), and an “Alice in Wonderland” sequel on the way, it's clear Disney is interested in testing the stamina of the company's intellectual properties in the live action space. Add one more to the schedule: “Beauty and the Beast.”
Variety reports that Oscar-winning filmmaker Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters,” “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”) will translate the tale of Belle and Gaston from the world of animation with Evan Spiliotopoulos writing the script. But that's all we have for now.
The oldest known variant of the “Beauty and the Beast” fairytale was written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740, though 16 years later a contemporary, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, published her own version and that's the most well-known rendition. There have been a number of filmed versions, from Jean Cocteau's 1946 “La Belle et la Bête” in 1946 to the 1987 TV “Beauty and the Beast” TV series starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman to the 2011 modern-day take “Beastly.” The Michael Bay-directed music video for Meat Loaf's 1993 single “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)” also borrowed from the story's iconography liberally.
But Disney's 1991 opus is the most successful film version we've seen. It was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture, and is indeed the only one to have been nominated in the five-nominee paradigm. The story and writing team featured an eventual who's who of the animation world, from directors Roger Allers (“The Lion King”), Brenda Chapman (“Brave,” “The Prince of Egypt”) and Chris Sanders (“Lilo & Stitch,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “The Croods”) to luminaries like Joe Ranft. It's an enduring masterwork, and really, it's kind of surprising it took this long for Disney to trot out a live action version.
And I'm cautiously optimistic about it, I must say. It seems like something Condon could really sink his teeth into and be creative with. He's been trying to find his post-“Twilight” legs. “The Fifth Estate” didn't hit the mark, but his Sherlock Holmes tale “A Slight Trick of the Mind” looks intriguing. He's a classy, creative guy and if he can just find the right project, I think he'll really sing again. We'll see in due time if “Beauty in the Beast” is what the doctor ordered.
What are your thoughts? Great idea? Terrible idea? Tell us in the comments section.