In the wake of Disney’s huge weekend opening for Cinderella, the studio has just announced the release date for their live-action retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which is now set to open on March 17, 2017, in 3D. The beloved tale will be retold for the big screen “with a modern live-action lens and the help of transformative CG magic.” Emma Watson and Dan Stevens will star as Belle and the Beast/Prince respectively, and Luke Evans will play the role of Gaston. Last week, Josh Gad was added to the cast as Gaston’s lackey LeFou, and now Emma Thompson has joined the film as Mrs. Potts and Kevin Kline as Belle’s father, Maurice. Seriously, could this cast be any more perfect?
Also ending months of speculation, it is confirmed that Beauty and the Beast will indeed be using the classic songs from the award winning 1991 animated musical (which was the basis for the long running Broadway production as well). Alan Menken will score this version of the film as well, which will feature new recordings of the original songs in addition to several new songs written by Menken and Sir Tim Rice. Dreamgirls’ Bill Condon will direct from a script by Stephen Chbosky, and shooting begins in England this May.
2017 is shaping up to be a HUGE year for Disney. In addition to Beauty and the Beast, the studio is also releasing Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Star Wars Episode VIII, Toy Story 4, the Spider-Man reboot (co-produced with Sony) and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. At least three of those movies are a lock for a billion dollars. If I were the other studios, I might want to consider skipping 2017 all together–it looks like the House of Mouse owns that year.