From Cinderella to Pinocchio and Dumbo, why Disney’s future is live action

Cinderella, Beauty in the Beast, The Jungle Book and Dumbo are all being transformed from cartoon to flesh and bone. And Pinocchio is set to join them...

Lily James has charmed cinema audiences bringing the fairytale Cinderella to life, and Disney look like they are planning to use a little live action magic for some time to come.


The latest classic cartoon set to be remade with real actors is Pinocchio, the story of a puppet who wishes to be a real boy. No lie. Writer Peter Hedges is tied to the project, Deadline report, and if true it means that Disney are reaching way back into their catalogue for material.

Based on the 1883 novel The Adventures Of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, the original was Disney’s second ever feature length animation, after Snow White. While far from a blockbuster on first release in 1940, it has gone on to be a celebrated part of American film history. It’s even referenced in the upcoming superhero sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but then again, Disney also own Marvel.

Only last week it was reported that 1998 animated fantasy Mulan will also be given the live action treatment. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the story of the Chinese female warrior will be produced by The Hangover production duo Chris Bender and J.C. Spink.

But Mulan and Pinocchio are just two of a number of Disney’s animated classics to be transformed. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens are currently filming an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

Stevens is following hot on the heels of his former Downton Abbey cast mate Lily James, who has wowed a new audience as the archetypal princess Cinderella. 

Disney are also in the process of adapting The Jungle Book, a mixture of live action and animation featuring Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo and Idris Elba as Shere Khan.

Director Tim Burton meanwhile is set to direct a live action version of Dumbo, following on from the popular success of his Alice in Wonderland – which, incidentally, is also getting a sequel.


With Pinocchio now also entering the pipeline, it seems the whole of the Disney back catalogue is ripe for a remake.