BY BILLY SUTER
WITH the live-action version of the Disney musical, Beauty and The Beast, due within days, news is out that the Disney studio is also planning the live-action treatment of the animated hits Aladdin, The Lion King and Mulan.
According to online reports, Disney has already sent out a casting notice for the roles of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine for the live-action Aladdin which will be directed by Madonna’s former husband, Guy Ritchie. The movie is expected in global cinemas in 2019.
The film will be a musical based on the original Oscar-winning 1992 animated feature, which featured a score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.
Interestingly, following calls and petitions from fans demanding that the lead characters in Aladdin and Mulan be Asian, the UK casting notice from Cindy Tolan stipulates that the characters are Middle Eastern.
The notice calls for actors between the ages of 18 and 25 who can sing and have dance experience.
Rehearsals are scheduled to begin in April, ahead of a six-month shooting period in the UK between July and January 2018, the notice states.
Actors wishing to submit must e-mail a photo and video of themselves singing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aladdin is set in the fictional city of Agrabah, Arabia, and according to the narrator in the original animated film, is located near the Jordan River.
The remake of the 1994 hit, The Lion King, is to be directed by Jon Favreau, who directed the remake of The Jungle Book, according to a Disney studio statement.
Variety has reported that the remake of the 1998 animated hit, Mulan, centred on a brave young girl who replaces her father in an army conscription, is expected in cinemas in 2018.
The report adds that Whale Rider director Niki Caro, is the first choice to direct the film, which, according to a Hollywood Reporter article, will have its main characters cast in China.
Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver – whose credits include Jurassic World and the new Planet of the Apes movies – will provide the script.
The rush to turn animated film hits into live-action movie musicals follows the recent Disney studio success with such box-office biggies as The Jungle Book, Maleficent, Cinderella and, it is hoped, Beauty and The Beast.
Set for global release on March 17, Beauty and the Beast tells of the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle.
Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realise the kind heart of the true prince within.
The film stars Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; and Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra.
Stanley Tucci plays Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald is Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan is the enchantress; and Nathan Mack is Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs Potts.
Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated hit, the film’s screenplay is by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos.
The soundtrack features a remake of the popular title song by Ariana Grande and John Legend, a ballad originally performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.
The new rendition of the classic song is produced by Grammy-winning veteran Ron Fair, whose music career spans 37 years as a major-label record company leader and accomplished producer, arranger, recording engineer and musical director.