Disney found massive success with remaking their animated films in live-action form and they’re only getting started.
After the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and Angelina Jolie led Maleficent, Disney realized remaking their classic animated features in live-action form could work extremely well. Since then we’ve seen a second Alice in Wonderland, a Jungle Book adaptation from Iron Man director Jon Favreau, and the billion dollar box office behemoth Beauty and the Beast. Disney has no plans to stop this format as of yet, as it essentially prints money. This year alone they have three (possibly four) films set to release and TONS more in development. We’ve got a full list of each film being remade below as well as release dates and who’s involved in each project.
DUMBO – March 29th 2019
Directed by Tim Burton, the film reunites the director with his Batman Returns stars Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito. The film also stars Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Nico Parker, and Finley Hobbins. The film follows Holt Farrier (Farrell) a former circus star who returns from war and with the help of his children looks after baby elephant Dumbo. But their lives are turned upside down when a pair of shady entrepreneurs (Keaton and Green) show up with the promise to save the floundering circus.
ALADDIN – May 24th 2019
Guy Ritchie directs this live action take on the Disney classic, with new songs from original composer Alan Menken and Greatest Showman lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Mena Massoud stars as Aladdin, with Naomi Scott filling in the role of Jasmine, and Will Smith as the Genie. This is Ritchie’s first musical, and given his very distinct style of directing, it’ll be interesting to see how he takes on the musical format.
THE LION KING – July 19th 2019
We know, it’s not exactly live action, but still. Jungle Book director Jon Favreau returns to the remake world with a new version of The Lion King. This version will feature some format of motion capture to help bring the characters to life, and includes the voice talents of James Earl Jones, Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, and Chiwetel Ejofor. It’s one of our most anticipated films of the year and will likely make Disney billions upon billions of dollars.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – October 18th, 2019
Angelina Jolie returns as the titular anti-hero/villain, this time being helmed by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales co-director Joachim Rønning. The film is said to take place several years after the original movie, with Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) preparing to take on the role of Queen. Michelle Pfeiffer, Harris Dickinson, Chiwetel Ejofor, and Ed Skrien also star in the film.
MULAN – March 27th 2020
Directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider, McFarland, USA) this retelling of Disney’s 1998 film stars Yifei Liu in the titular role. It’s not entirely clear if the villain Shan Yu, from the original film will play a part in the movie, as Disney has cast Gong Ly as a powerful witch who will supposedly be the main antagonist of the film. The film also stars Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Li Gong, Jason Scott Lee, Ron Yuan, Jimmy Wong, Doua Moua, and Chen Tang. Disney has been quiet for now about the involvement of the character of Mushu, the dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy in the animated feature.
LADY AND THE TRAMP – Release Date TBA (Likely 2019 or 2020)
The Lego Ninjago Movie director helms this CGI/live-action hybrid that is set for release on Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+. The film stars Tessa Thompson as the role of Lady and Justin Theroux as Tramp, and is said to have real-life dogs portraying the characters in the film. This is one of numerous projects Disney moved to their upcoming streaming service, not due to lack of faith in the project, but in hopes that it can become a significant distribution method.
CRUELLA – Release Date TBA
Based on the 101 Dalmatians villain, this take is said to take place in the 80’s and give us a look at how the character came to be such an “inhuman beast.” The film was written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks), and is being directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya). Emma Stone is set to play the “vampire-bat” Cruella De Vil herself, previously portrayed in live-action form by Glenn Close.
HUNCHBACK – Release Date TBA
Josh Gad (Frozen) is producing this live action adaptation of the 1997 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame. David Henry Hwang (The Affair) is writing the script, which is said to be influenced by the Disney adaptation and the original Victor Hugo novel. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, who wrote songs for Disney’s original version of the film, are returning to work on music for the film. While Gad is producing the film, it’s unclear if he will star in the film in any capacity.
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH – Release Date TBA
Based on the Roald Dahl book, and previously turned into a stop-motion picture, after the success of Nightmare Before Christmas, Disney is working with Writer Nick Hornby (Brooklyn) on a new take on James and the Giant Peach. Skyfall director Sam Mendes was originally attached to the project but stepped aside to work on other ventures. No director is attached as of yet to replace Mendes, but the project is still in development at Disney.
LILO AND STITCH – Release Date TBA
Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, producers of the upcoming Aladdin remake, are set to produce a new take on Lilo and Stitch. Mike Van Waes, who wrote the upcoming Conjuring spinoff The Crooked Man, is set to write the film. We reported on this back in October when the film was first announced. The film is rumored to be a CGI/live-action hybrid, but little else is known about the film. Hopefully it will embrace some of the finer elements of the original film, like its use of Elvis music and Hawaiian culture. (Also, we vote Terry Crews for the role of Cobra Bubbles.)
THE LITTLE MERMAID – Release Date TBA
Composer Alan Menken is returning to compose and write songs for the adaptation of The Little Mermaid alongside Lin Manuel Miranda. That alone makes this an exciting project. Disney is also working to sign Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall to helm the film, though nothing has been set in stone as of yet.
NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN – Release Date TBA
Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who wrote and developed Netflix’s Lost in Space, and wrote the screenplay for Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man spinoff Morbius, were hired by Disney to write a film adaptation of the Fantasia segment, Night on Bald Mountain. No other details have been released by Disney since that announcement, but the film is still said to be in development.
OLIVER TWIST – Release Date TBA
Ice Cube is set to star and produce, alongside Jeff Kwantinetz (Barbershop: The Next Cut) and Marc Platt (Mary Poppins Returns) a new adaptation of Oliver Twist. It’s not exactly clear as of yet if this adaptation is set to remake Disney’s 1988 adaptation, Oliver and Company, but it wouldn’t be surprising. Disney has Hamilton co-director Tommy Kail set to direct the feature.
PETER PAN – Release Date TBA
After the release of Pete’s Dragon, another live action adaptation of an animated feature, which sort of flew under the radar, Disney signed the film’s director David Lowery to begin work on a live action Peter Pan. Lowery took a break from Disney to direct the excellent, The Old Man and the Gun with Pete’s Dragon star Robert Redford, but is still developing his Peter Pan film with Disney.
PINOCCHIO – Release Date TBA
Written by Jack Thorne and Chris Weitz, the film has been in development with multiple directors attached. Paul King (Paddington 1 & 2) was set to finally kick the film into production, but left the project to tend to family issues. It’s unclear what state the film is in as of now, but this is a high priority for Disney who hopes to contend with multiple other Pinocchio projects in development at other studios. Back in November Tom Hanks was in talks to join the film as the role of Geppetto but his involvement is unclear with the loss of King.
PRINCE CHARMING – Release Date TBA
Written and directed by Stephen Chobsky, who penned Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and recently directed the feel good film, Wonder, this story takes a twist on the character frequently known as “Prince Charming.” The film is said to pull from the fact that Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White all have a “Prince Charming,” and is rumored to follow the less successful brother of the title character.
SNOW WHITE – Release Date TBA
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote songs for the upcoming Aladdin adaptation as well as La La Land and The Greatest Showman, are writing new songs for this live action adaptation of Disney’s first animated feature. The last reports on the film state that the script was being worked on by The Girl on the Train scribe Erin Cressida Wilson. No director is attached as of yet, but the film is being produced by Marc Platt who also worked with Disney on Mary Poppins Returns.
THE SWORD IN THE STONE – Release Date TBA
Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman has written a script for a new take on Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, with Disney in talks with 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to direct. Not much is known about the film, but Disney is planning to release the feature on Disney+, the upcoming streaming service.
TINK – Release Date TBA
For now we’re going to admit that this one may take some time still. A live-action Tinkerbell film has been in development at Disney for years, and in various incarnations, with half of Hollywood’s blonde-haired A-List actresses attached to star. As of now Reese Witherspoon is attached to the project, and will star in and produce the film from a script by Finding Dory writer Victoria Strouse. Whether this version of a live-action Tinkerbell film will make it to the big screen or be scrapped for a new version remains to be seen.