Let’s face it: 2020 has been a rough year. But with a whole slew of classic Disney tales getting the live-action treatment, there are at least some bright things on the horizon. The pandemic may have affected productions and shifted release dates, but the fact remains that a number of beloved animated films from your childhood are being brought to life with some serious star power. Keep reading for a roundup of some of the top titles you can anticipate, as well as the A-listers attached to them.
The origin story of Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians tops our list because it already has an announced release date. Originally slated to drop this December, Disney has announced it will push to May of next year, at which time you can take in an all-star cast. Emma Stone will lead the film as its titular character, a young and punk-ish iteration of the villain in this adaptation’s 1980s setting. Fans of the original film can look forward to finding out the backstory behind Cruella, a character known for her obsession with fur coats made from puppies. Stone has some big shoes to fill with playing the larger-than-life villain, who was previously portrayed by Glenn Close in Disney’s 1996 live-action version of the animated film. For this origin story feature, you can also keep an eye out for names like Emma Thompson and Mark Strong, while enjoying the work of director Craig Gillespie.
- The Little Mermaid
The upcoming film makes our list for a number of reasons, with an important one being its win for representation. When Disney announced the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel, a character portrayed as white in the animated version, backlash swiftly followed and #NotMyAriel began trending on Twitter. A number of big names jumped to support the inclusive casting choice, including the actor who voiced Ariel in the 1989 animated film. Disney-owned network Freeform may have said it best, though, in its open letter on the topic. “[If] you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn’t look like the cartoon one,’ oh boy, do I have some news for you … about you,” the letter concluded. Bailey is joined by a number of big names that are taking on the classic characters. Melissa McCarthy is slated to play Ursula, and Javier Bardem will be King Triton. Also listen for Daveed Diggs lending his voice to Sebastian and Awkwafina doing the same for Scuttle. The score is one to anticipate, as well, with both original and new tunes from composer Alan Menken paired with lyrics from Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- Peter Pan and Wendy
It was recently announced that Yara Shahidi is confirmed to play Tinker Bell in the upcoming live-action adaptation. As Deadline put it, “Disney continues to make strides in diversifying its classic characters.” We’re looking forward to seeing the Grown-ish star’s take on the character, previously portrayed by Julia Roberts in Steven Spielberg’s Hook. Director David Lowery is at the helm of this adaptation about the boy who wouldn’t grow up and the adventures he leads in Neverland. Other confirmed cast members include Jude Law as Captain Hook, as well as Alexander Molony and Ever Anderson as the respective titular characters.
Robert Zemeckis is claiming both writing and directing credits on the upcoming adaptation, and it’s rumored that his previous Forrest Gump star, Tom Hanks, has been tapped to play Geppetto. The character is of course the woodcarver who crafts Pinocchio, a puppet that comes to life. The classic tale follows his quest to become a real boy, with the help of Jiminy Cricket. And Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation is not to be confused with the darker, stop-motion version from auteur Guillermo del Toro.
From watching Emma Stone follow in Glenn Close’s footsteps as a fur coat-loving villain to Yara Shahidi taking on the Tinker Bell role Julia Roberts previously played, there are some noteworthy role reprisals to be found in Disney’s upcoming live-action remakes. The titles also offer inclusive castings and potential dream team reunions in the form of Zemeckis and Hanks. So even if you’re trying Geppetto’s trick and looking for a star to wish away the year 2020, there are still exciting things ahead. In this roundup, we gave you our four top picks of Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptations, and for those interested in exploring more upcoming titles, you can check out Vogue’s extended list here.