BY BILLY SUTER
THREE new songs co-written by Tim Rice and Alan Menken – who won two Oscars for his work on the animated Beauty and the Beast – will feature in the eagerly anticipated live-action remake of the movie, due for global release on March 17.
Directed by Bill Condon, who wrote and directed Dreamgirls and wrote the script for Rob Marshall’s Oscar-winning Chicago, the new film stars Emma Watson (Hermione in the Harry Potter films) as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow and vain villager who woos Belle.
Stevens is best known for his role as Matthew Crawley in the TV series Downton Abbey, while Evans is a Welsh singer-actor who began his career on stage, performing in London West End productions such as Rent, Miss Saigon and Piaf before reaching Hollywood.
Kevin Kline appears as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gadd is cast as Le Fou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor plays Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci is Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; and Gugu Mbatha-Raw is cast as Plumette, the feather duster.
The film has Audra McDonald as Madame De Garderobe, the wardrobe; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs Potts.
Based on the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast – the only animated film to ever be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar – the new film is co-written by Condon, Evan Spiliotopoulos and Stephen Chbosky.
Menken, who won two Academy Awards (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the new film’s score.
Original plans, in 2009, were to make a film of the Broadway stage version of Beauty and the Beast, but a decision was made to rather remake the animated version, “for a more contemporary audience”, following the success of other live-action fantasy films such as Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, The Jungle Book and Cinderella.
Reports are that the songs written for the stage musical will not be used in the new film version, although most from the animated movie will appear, including a new version of the hit title track, recorded by John Legend and Ariana Grande.
Wikipedia reports that the new film’s trailer reached 127.6 million views in its first 24 hours, setting a new record as the trailer with the most views in one day, beating out Fifty Shades Darker. However, the record has since been broken again by The Fate of the Furious.
Wikipedia adds that principal photography on Beauty and the Beast began at London’s Shepperton Studios on May 18, 2015. Filming with the principal actors concluded on August 21. Six days later, co-producer Jack Morrissey confirmed that the film had officially wrapped production.