August 4, 2014

Live-Action Fairy Tale Reimaginings Heading for the Silver Screen, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter

I've got a lot of little tidbits to share today, and all in relation to a cinema trend that's not going away soon--big budget films, in live-action, with fairy-tale settings, and a bit of a twist.

A few months ago, I reported that Kenneth Branaugh was putting together a live-action retelling of Disney's Cinderella (1950), slated for Spring 2015. I'm bringing it up again, because we've got a more fleshed-out cast list now, and it's really interesting. 

For one thing, it's an all-British line-up, with the exception of a Scot and an Aussie. The Disney film, in contrast, had a full cast of Yankees. I wonder, will there be a distinctly British flavor to this version, even though the All-American Disney Corp is still at the helm? 

Lily James as Cinderella, due in 2015
As I previously reported, Lily James of Downton Abbey will play Cinderella, and Richard Madden from Game of Thrones is Prince Charming. 

Lily's Downton co-star, Sophie McShera, will play her "ugly" stepsister, Drizella. Holliday Grainger from Anna Karenina (2012) plays Anastasia, the other stepsister. In contrast to the Disney characters they're representing, I don't think you could call either of these actresses ugly. At least, I wouldn't. So I wonder whether that aspect of the original film will come into play, or if the sisters will be portrayed as pretty "mean girls," as in Ever After (1998).

Seasoned actress Cate Blanchett is Lady Tremaine, the wicked stepmother (and I think she'll be PERFECT!). As for the Fairy Godmother, we have Helena Bonham Carter. That's... a very interesting choice, I think? She's usually cast as an eccentric, witchy type with dark or "twisted" tastes. Will she be similarly represented here, or more like the sweet and bubbly matron from the Disney film? We'll have to wait and see. The film opens March 13th, 2015.

Disney seems to be on a roll with these live-action "reimagining" films. Though not well received by critics, films like MaleficentOz The Great and Powerful, and Burton's Alice in Wonderland were highly profitable with audiences. In a monetary sense, they were box office successes. So Disney will be making more in the same vein. Four more, actually.

There are plans for a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, retitled, simply, The Beast. I suspect that means it will portray the Prince's backstory, or tell the story of the 1991 film from his point of view. So basically, it's Maleficent again? But a little more beastly?

To be perfectly honest (and if I may digress), I didn't care for Maleficent. I thought it could have been handled a lot better and didn't do justice to the original 1959 film--Walt Disney's magnum opus--or the classic fairy-tale that inspired them both. So when I heard about The Beast, I didn't exactly celebrate. How about you? What were your thoughts on Maleficent, if you saw it?

There was also a report that Emma Watson would be teaming up with director Guillermo Del Toro to create a version of "Beauty and the Beast" for Warner Bros. However, Del Toro has just recently dropped out of the project. I wonder if this version and Disney's The Beast will be coming out around the same time, and whether there's a push for the two to take different directions... and which will be more successful. At this point, there is no estimated release time for either film. 

Remember 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman with Kristen Stewart? A sequel is now in the works, due sometime in 2016. But this film will not emphasize's Stewart's role as Princess Snow, as the first did. Reports are, it focuses more on Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman and Charlize Theron's Evil Queen. This is making me think of Maleficent and The Beast again, but the film is still in the early stages of production, so it's probably too soon to make any predictions.

I also shouldn't neglect to mention that Disney has two more of these remakes in the works: One being The Jungle Book (1967) and the other, Dumbo (1941). No, I'm not joking. If you're wondering, they'll both involve a mix of live-action and CGI.

So, in total, that's four upcoming live-action reimaginings by Disney, a Warner Bros. film, a sequel by Universal, and about a million others I didn't have time to mention.

This is a trend that is really not dying down. Fairy-tale junkies like us can only hope for the best, here. We can hope that any of these films will be able to bring out the true heart of the timeless tales they're re-spinning, to really do them justice, and actually be remembered as works of art with any substance.

But I'll stop being so cynical. Are you excited for any of these? Did you see Maleficent? Are you tired of this trend, or thankful that fairy tales are prominent in today's media?

Just a few things to think about. Happy Summer!

Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."


  1. They should have gone less British and more French for the Cinderella cast. I mean, it is the Charles Perrault Tales of Mother Goose story that they based it on.

    As for stepsisters, if they go with "ugly", then it's more Perrault. If they go with "pretty but mean", it's more Grimm.

    I'll give these movies a try based on trailers and reviews. I just wish we'd see more adaptations of stories that aren't already household names.

  2. I guess I did not realize they were re-making their animated Cinderella. I wish they wouldn't. I wish they would make a new version...

    Disney's Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favorite Disney films. But, again, I don't want them to just remake their animated version in live action.