Disney’s plotting a steady stream of live-action remakes (and some photorealistic animations) for release over the next few years, and we couldn’t be more excited. Whether it’s diving under the sea (and back into your childhood) with Ariel, or punk-rocking out in the 80s with Cruella, there’s plenty for Disney fans to get their teeth stuck into.
After a roaring success on the stage, The Lion King is finally returning 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. (Did I mention Beyoncé’s in it?)
Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé(!), James Earl Jones, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Keegan Michael-Key, John Oliver
The Lion King review: “a peculiar hybrid of nature documentary and coming-of-age tale”
Maleficent and her Gaga-esque cheekbones will return for a second instalment in the Sleeping Beauty villain’s origin story, following the first film, Maleficent, released in 2014. Angelina Jolie has said that the follow-up will ask whether Maleficent is “good enough” to be Aurora’s mother as we follow 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 – release date 12th November 2019 (US only)
The upcoming live-action reimagining of Lady and the Tramp will star real dogs – yes actual, real, dogs – and humans. We can’t wait to see that spaghetti smooch on the big screen, but although the film’s due for release on 12th November 2019 in the US (via Disney’s new streaming service Disney+), it’s not clear when (gulp, if) we’ll be able to see it in the UK.
Starring: Janelle Monáe, Tessa Thompson, Justin Theroux, Sam Eliot, Ashley Jensen, Benedict Wong
Disney is hoping that its remake of Mulan will engage Chinese audiences in a way that the animated original failed to do, following the original Ballad of Mulan more closely this time around and casting Chinese American actress Liu Yifei in the lead role.
Starring: Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Ron Yuan, Chum Ehelepola, Boson An, Yoson An
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 their 1961 animation with their 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 their new 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?
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.
But whilst the diversity of the cast is getting more realistic, 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.
Starring: Halle Bailey, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina, Melissa McCarthy
The Sword in the Stone – release date TBC
It’s going to be tough to convince Merlin’s loyal fan base (which, thanks to Netflix, now includes US viewers) that anyone but the BBC should touch the story of King Arthur. But in Disney’s defence, they did get there first with their 1963 animation. 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+.
Peter Pan – 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 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”.
With a steady stream of live-action releases already lined up, Disney has been quiet on this one in recent years.
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, and the last we heard Paddington director Paul King was being lined up to take his place.
Tink – release date TBC
Peter Pan’s sidekick Tinker Bell is reportedly back for a new live action movie. 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 Steven King story – is reportedly coming to the big screen for the first time. In a “revisionist take that transposes Rose Red into the Show 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.
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.
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.
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.
This page will be updated regularly, so stay tuned for updates on these upcoming releases