With awards season at an end, it's time to prepare for the latest spectacular Disney remake. We are, of course, talking about the live-action reboot of Mulan, which arrives in July.
The movie is directed by Whale Rider filmmaker Niki Caro, and plays out on a massive scale, mixing breathtaking martial arts and magical fantasy. Liu Yifei is the eponymous Mulan, who takes her father's place in the Chinese army to help battle evil witch Xian Lang (Gong Li).
The first trailers promise an epic adventure, which got us thinking: what Disney remakes are headed our way after Mulan? And what are the ones not yet announced that we would like to see?
Three Disney remakes coming soon...
1. The Little Mermaid (released 2021)
This one was always going to happen, wasn’t it? Released in 1989, The Little Mermaid remains one of the crown jewels (or is that pearls?) in Disney’s animated back catalogue, credited with kick-starting the 'Disney Renaissance' period that led to the likes of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.
In terms of the remake, the studio is keeping it in “in the family”, having hired veteran Disney director Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns; Into The Woods) to take charge. R&B artist Halle Bailey was confirmed to take on the title role of endearing mermaid Ariel, while Spy's Melissa McCarthy is set to portray the diabolical Ursula.
Crazy Rich Asians' Awkwafina is Scuttle, Room's Jacob Tremblay is Flounder, World On Fire's Honah Hauer-King is Prince Eric, Hamilton's Daveed Diggs is Sebastian and Skyfall's Javier Bardem is King Triton. Fellow Hamilton and Mary Poppins Returns sensation Lin-Manuel Miranda is providing new songs, working with the original film's Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, and shooting begins later this year.
2. Cruella (released 28th May 2021)
Next up is a re-imagining of Disney’s timeless classic One Hundred and One Dalmatians, switching focus from those cute, polka-dotted doggies to the big bad of the piece: the dastardly Cruella de Vil. Set in London during the 1970s, the movie shows us Cruella's backstory – and, joy of joys, she's played by terrific La La Land Oscar winner Emma Stone.
Stone is set to portray Cruella as a young fashion designer who slowly becomes obsessed with a certain dog fur – and a batch of on-set photos indicate Stone's brilliantly villainous sense of chic. Plans have been afoot for this movie since 2011 and, after the success of Sleeping Beauty remake Maleficent, Cruella was added to the line-up, securing Stone and I, Tonya director Craig Gillespie to helm with Emma Thompson (Late Night), Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) and Mark Strong (Shazam!) amongst the ensemble.
3. Pinocchio (release date TBC)
There have been many attempts to bring the puppet-turned-real-boy story to the big screen, with various names attached ranging from Robert Downey Jnr to Tom Hanks and Guillermo del Toro. In fact, Del Toro is already planning a stop-motion film, due in 2021.
However, his version is separate from Disney's plans, and it seemed the studio's own adaptation had stalled. Until news was released earlier this year that Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) had been hired to direct the film, with production due to start later this year. Might we see a reunion of the Forrest Gump dream-team Zemeckis and Hanks? We can well imagine the latter as kindly carpenter Geppetto.
Four Disney remakes we want to see...
1. The Aristocats
We know what you are thinking – another film with CGI cats can’t be a good thing. Yes, we're still licking our wounds following Tom Hooper’s disastrous big-screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, but surely a big-screen Disney remake of their classic 1970 animation could help clear the air?
The Aristocats is the story of a group of aristocratic felines living in Paris, who are abandoned in the countryside by their owner’s greedy butler. The movie has long been a firm favourite among Disney fans, largely because of rollicking musical numbers like the jazzy 'Everybody Wants to Be a Cat'. Following the success of the photo-realistic CGI in Disney remakes The Jungle Book and The Lion King, we'd like to see another take on a classic property that blurs the lines between animation and live-action.
2. The Black Cauldron
35 years after its initial release, the catastrophic failure of Disney animation The Black Cauldron still hurts us. A rip-roaring fantasy epic, it anticipated many of the darker elements that would later feature in the likes of Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings series. However, the film was a notorious bomb when unleashed in cinemas, and didn’t get a home entertainment release for 13 years because of it.
But don’t let that put you off one of Disney’s most underrated gems. Surely, The Black Cauldron is ripe for a big-screen reimagining with all things wizards, princesses, The Horned King (originally voiced by John Hurt) mythical creatures, heroes and the magical cauldron of the title. The recent likes of Guy Ritchie's Aladdin have shown that people are keen to revisit the worlds of their favourite Disney movies (Aladdin took more than $1 billion worldwide), so why should they not take a gamble on this one?
3. The Rescuers
Now, this may seem like a little of an out-there idea, but stick with us, as we think a live-action remake/reimagining of one of the studio’s most-underrated animated gems is a pretty solid idea. The plot of the original Rescuers sees two mice, Bernard and Miss Bianca, search for a missing girl.
The child has been kidnapped by treasure hunter Madame Medusa, who has stolen a rare diamond, so think Nicolas Cage movie National Treasure mixed with Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. Come on, who wouldn’t want to see an updated version of the Rescue Aid Society and the International Mouse Organisation?
4. The Sword in the Stone
Who can resist a rousing and enchanting King Arthur movie? Disney, as ever, took some artistic license with their 1963 version of The Sword in the Stone, but what it did have was magic, wonder, and whimsy. Could they possibly replicate that in a live-action remake?
In late 2018, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) was said to be attached to a Disney+ project, but since then we've heard nothing. Here’s hoping Merlin can use a few tricks up his sleeve to get it going again.
Scott J. Davis is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.