We’ve become used to the Disney live-action remake in recent years, with a slew of the studio’s animated hits having been given a refresh in the last few years.
So far Disney fans have been treated to new versions of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, The Lion King and Dumbo – and there’s much more on the way, with Ariel, and Cruella just two of the iconic characters set to be given a modern update in the coming months. We’ve also just heard that Peter Pan and Wendy has begun production.
We’ve compiled a complete list of all the upcoming Disney live-action remakes, movies that have already been released and what else is planned.
Upcoming Disney live-action
Cruella – release date 28th May 2021
God is a Woman according to Disney star Ariana Grande, but so is the Devil. Well, at least that’s what Disney’s been telling us since its 1961 animation with the not-so-subtly named fur-obsessed villain, Cruella De Vil. If she doesn’t scare you no evil thing will…
But things might be about to change. In Disney’s upcoming live-action film Cruella, we’ll hear the story of how the iconic character became the woman she is. Expect a tragic backstory that’s more sympathetic towards Ms De Vil – and (arguably) an equally tragic fashion backstory… did you know that Cruella went through a punk phase in the 80s?
It doesn’t look like the film’s release date will be affected by coronavirus (yet), as it was moved from its original late 2020 release date before the pandemic hit the entertainment industry. Don’t be surprised if this one gets moved again though, either date wise or over to Disney+ Premiere Access.
Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, Mark Strong
The Little Mermaid – 9th July, 2021 (TBC)
After thirty years confined to animation, Ariel can finally become part of our world in this live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Halle Bailey, one half of the US R&B duo Chloe x Halle, will make history in the lead role, becoming the first person of colour to play a Disney princess who was white in the original animated film.
The remake is set to retain its fantasy elements including talking fish, enchanted necklaces, and hair that remains perfectly in place despite salt, wind and magic sea battles. The film was scheduled to begin production in 2020, but, due to coronavirus, it’s unknown when it will actually start filming, and thus when it will hit the big screen, although there is currently an untitled live-action movie listed on Disney’s release calendar for November 19, 2021 – so this could be a possibility.
Starring: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina, Melissa McCarthy
The Sword in the Stone – release date TBC
Merlin remakes and re-imaginings of the Arthurian legend are ten a penny at the moment – with Netflix the latest to get in on the action with its recent series Cursed. But alongside the beloved BBC show Merlin, Disney’s 1963 animation remains one of the best versions of the iconic story. Plans are afoot to remake that version – let’s just hope writer Bryan Cogman has saved a shield or two from his work on Game of Thrones, in case Merlin fans aren’t impressed. This is another project set to debut on streaming service Disney+, but details about its release date and cast have not been made public yet.
Disney films in development
Peter Pan and Wendy – release date TBC
We’ve already seen Peter Pan flying away from London in several live-action remakes, so you might be wondering how a new version could possibly compete. Answer: by not trying to.
Director David Lowery – who previously remade another Disney favourite in Pete’s Dragon – has told Collider “I didn’t know how I would do it better. Then, I started thinking, ‘Well, how would I do it, not better, but differently?’ As soon as I started thinking that, I started getting ideas and it seemed like a good fit”.
Recently, it was reported that the film had cast Alexander Molony as Peter and Ever Anderson as Wendy. Production has now started in Vancouver on the “adventure/fantasy” movie.
“Peter Pan has long been one of my favorite stories, partially because I’ve always resisted growing up, but also because of the heart, adventure and imagination that makes J.M. Barrie’s original tale so evergreen,” said Lowery. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to redefine his iconic characters for a new generation – and even more excited that I get to do so with such an exceptional cast and crew.”
Starring: Jude Law, Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Yara Shahidi and Jim Gaffigan.
Pinocchio – release date TBC
Pinocchio has wanted to be a real boy since he was dreamt up by Carlo Collodi in 1883, and now his wish will finally come true. 136 years is an awfully long time to wait, so expectations are high for Pinocchio’s live-action remake, which will be penned by Peter Hedges (About a Boy). Sam Mendes (Skyfall) was attached but has since pulled out.
Though Paddington director Paul King was rumoured be taking his place, Variety reported that Robert Zemeckis is likely to take over instead. Zemeckis directing credits include the Back to the Future trilogy, Forrest Gump and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, so you know Pinocchio is in good hands, while there have been rumours that he could enlist frequent collaborator Tom Hanks to play Gepetto.
It’s worth noting that this will be the third version of Pinnochio to be released in the space of a couple of years, following the recently released Italian version from acclaimed director Matteo Garrone and an upcoming Guillermo Del Toro version for Netflix, which is set to star Ron Perlman, Tilda Swinton, Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Cate Blanchett and David Bradley.
Tink – release date TBC
As if David Lowery’s Peter Pan remake wasn’t enough, we’ll also be heading back to Never Never Land for another live action remake from the perspective of sidekick Tinker Bell. Originally meant as a minor character, she’s now a Disney icon and hugely popular with fans. Tinker Bell’s origin story has already been told in a 2008 straight-to-DVD animated version, and it’s as yet unclear whether the new film will follow a similar plot. There had been rumours that Reese Witherspoon will be playing the tinkering fairy but there’s been no movement on this project for a few years.
Starring: Reece Witherspoon (rumoured)
Rose Red – release date TBC
Rose Red – the elusive sister of Snow White, not the Stephen King story – is reportedly coming to the big screen for the first time. In a “revisionist take that transposes Rose Red into the Snow White tale”, the new film will be based on an original Brothers Grim tale, incorporating a character that was left out altogether from Disney’s earlier efforts.
Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Justin Merz (The Boxcar Children) are writing the screenplay, and DisInsider has reported that Brie Larson has been approached for the role of Rose Red – although there have been no new announcements for a while.
Prince Charming – release date TBC
Rose Red’s producer, Tripp Vinson, is due to be joined by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman (Beauty and the Beast) for this new film all about Prince Charming. It’s going to be tough to beat DreamWorks’ depiction of him as an arrogant mummy’s boy in the Shrek films, but we’re fascinated. In the Disney universe, Prince Charming apparently lives a triple life as the beau of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella – just how charming can one man be?
Hunchback – release date TBC
Disney’s bringing Quasimodo back to the big screen for a new version of Victor Hugo’s Parisian tale of a man shunned for his disability. Expect new music from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, who also wrote the soundtrack for Disney’s first take on the story – The Hunchback of Notre Dame – in 1996.
This is not the same project as Idris Elba’s Netflix version which sounds rather different to the animated original. Josh Gad is set to produce the film and has also been rumoured as a possible Quasimondo, although there is nothing official as far as casting is concerned at this stage.
Josh Gad, who is attached to the movie, teased fans on Twitter saying it was “Getting. Closer.”
Lilo & Stitch – release date TBC
If this story of the extraterrestrial agent of destruction turned into a sweet family pet through the power of ‘ohana doesn’t warm your heart, we don’t know what will. Now returning for a live-action remake (with a little CGI help), it’s unclear whether Lilo and Switch will be released in the UK or just on Disney+ in the US. What is perhaps most intriguing is the hiring of Mike Van Waes, who is best known for his work in the horror genre, as the project’s screenwriter.
Meanwhile in good news for fans of the original, Chris Sanders is reportedly voicing the role of Stitch, as he did in the animated version (which he also wrote and directed).
Genies – release date TBC
This prequel to Aladdin was first reported in 2015 but little has been heard of it since – and with Disney recently releasing a live-action remake of their animated original starring Will Smith, it remains to be seen whether Genies will ever materialise. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift were originally reported as writing the comedy origin story telling of how the Genie ended up in the lamp in the first place.
Disney live-action remakes already released
Alice in Wonderland – released 25th February 2010
The first live-action remake in several years and the first one e are counting as part of the current wave of them, Alice in Wonderland was a visual feast with Tim Burton at the helm, it didn’t get the run of films off to a great start with the story and tone both being heavily criticised. A sequel came along that was met with a slightly warmer reception but still failed to impress.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Mia Wasikowska, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall
Maleficent – released 28th May 2014
A remake of sorts of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent swaps the focus round and this is the story of the villain as she puts a curse on King Stefan’s newborn daughter, Aurora, so hat on her 16th birthday, she will fall into a permanent deep sleep.
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville
Cinderella – released 27th March 2015
One of the more highly praised of the Disney live-action remakes, Cinderella had Lily James in the titular role and received positive reviews for its performance, look, and how it was able to stay faithful to the original classic whilst adding something new at the same time.
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgård, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi and Helena Bonham Carter
The Jungle Book – released 15th April 2016
One of the live-action remakes that does something different from the animated classic it is based on, The Jungle Book was a huge success when it was released in 2016 and it blew us away by being one of the finest looking movies out there. We’ll try and pretend Walken’s rendition of “I Wanna Be Like You” didn’t happen though.
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken
Beauty and the Beast – released 17th March 2017
2017’s remake may have drawn some criticism by offering little new to the table, but it remains a faithful adaptation of the animated classic and one that retains the wonder and awe of the original while updating the visuals to create a film that is, at times, gorgeous.
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson
Dumbo – released 29th March 2019
Dumbo, the tale of the beloved elephant, got the remake treatment in 2019 and made Dumbo come to life in spectacular ways – watching him fly is quite the sight to behold. While the story left a little to be desired, this was still a fun ride and we really did believe that an elephant could fly while watching it.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green and Alan Arkin
Aladdin – released 24th May 2019
Despite many not being thrilled by the appearance of Will Smith’s genie when images were first released, 2019’s Aladdin surprised with the genie actually being one of the best things in it. Staying true to the original while offering new things along the way, this certainly falls into the category of the better remakes on the list.
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen
The Lion King – released 19th July 2019
After a roaring success on the stage, The Lion King finally returned to the big screen with a celebrity cast including Beyoncé, Donald Glover and Seth Rogen. Echoing The Jungle Book, the film offers stunning photorealistic animation, with Beyoncé voicing Nala. The movie did well numbers-wise but less so critically with many having issues with, amongst other things, the look of the speaking animals which did not translate well to live-action after working so brilliantly in the animation.
Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé(!), James Earl Jones, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Keegan Michael-Key, John Oliver
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – released 18th October 2019
Maleficent and her Gaga-esque cheekbones returned for a second instalment in the Sleeping Beauty villain’s origin story, following the first film, Maleficent, released in 2014. Angelina Jolie said that the follow-up would ask whether Maleficent is “good enough” to be Aurora’s mother, and followed the pair making alliances to combat new enemies.
Starring: Elle Fanning, Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Lindsay, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Sam Riley, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville
Lady and the Tramp – released 24th March 2020
At last, the live-action reimagining of Lady and the Tramp landed in the UK following the launch of Disney Plus on 24th March (it has been available across the pond since November 2019). We got to finally see the real dogs – yes actual, real, dogs – and humans that starred in it do their thing, not to mention that iconic spaghetti smooch.
Starring: Janelle Monáe, Tessa Thompson, Justin Theroux, Sam Eliot, Ashley Jensen, Benedict Wong
Mulan – release date 4th September 2020
Although Disney was hoping that its remake of Mulan would engage Chinese audiences in a way that the animated original failed to do, the ongoing coronavirus crisis significantly impacted the film’s release. Originally slated for 27th March, Mulan was then moved to a summer release date, before a cinema release was scrapped in favour of the film launching on subscription service Disney+ at a premium fee. This time around, the film follows the original Ballad of Mulan more closely.
Starring: Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Ron Yuan, Chum Ehelepola, Boson An, Yoson An
This page will be updated regularly, so stay tuned for updates on these upcoming releases. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our best movies on Disney+ guide or if you’re scrolling for something to watch tonight check out our TV Guide.