Having successfully shepherded the Emma Watson-led Beauty and the Beast remake to a billion-dollar worldwide gross, Bill Condon now has the world in his palm. An Academy Award winner with blockbuster bona fides, he’s pretty much free to take whatever project he’d like. Today brings news of what his next big endeavor might be, and it looks like he’s going to make a lateral move to stick with big budget studio work. Condon chronicled the life of British filmmaker James Whale with the celebrated Of Gods and Monsters, now he’s poised to tackle Whale’s work head-on.
Aah, remember just three weeks ago when we all thought Disney was about to introduce the studio’s first openly gay character? Director Bill Condon said his live-action Beauty and the Beast remake would feature a character having an “exclusively gay moment,” and described Josh Gad‘s LeFou as someone who both wants to be Gaston (Luke Evans), and kiss Gaston. Then critics saw the movie and found no openly gay character in sight. The investigation continues into what exactly an “exclusively gay moment” is – if anyone has figured it out, please let me know – but it’s certainly not whatever happened at the end of Beauty and the Beast.
One of the things that’s different about the new Beauty and the Beast — other than the fact that it’s live-action — is that it’s 45 minutes longer than the original animated movie. There are a few new additions: expanded characters, three completely new songs, and some extended flashbacks. One of these flashbacks is an answer to one mystery die-hard Beauty and the Beast fans have been asking since 1991: What happened to Belle’s mother?
At first, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast might not look all that different from the 1991 original. Emma Watson‘s Belle shares a dance with the Beast (Dan Stevens) in her iconic yellow gown, the servants are as charming as ever, and the story is relatively the same. But there are some new flourishes that distinguish the remake from the classic many of us grew up with.
Last week it seemed like the live-action Beauty and the Beast remake was about to make history with the Disney’s first openly gay character. But now director Bill Condon says the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.
To say that the first trailer for Beauty and the Beast was evocative of the 1991 animated classic would be an understatement; it was a live-action carbon copy, and if Disney’s remake of Cinderella was any indication, we were in for yet another tedious — if visually stunning, well-acted and beautifully-designed — exercise in nostalgia-based capitalism. But Bill Condon’s live-action update of Beauty and the Beast is more reimagining than remake, a lavish and lovely take on a familiar tale (as old as time, no doubt) that enriches its source material without betraying it, embellishing a cherished antique with modern ideas.
Slowly but surely, Disney is becoming a little more woke. With last year’s politically-minded (and now Oscar-winning) Zootopia, announcements of Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie and first black superhero movie, and making Ava DuVernay the first woman of color to helm a $100 million movie, the studio is adding diversity to their roster little by little. Now the studio has finally decided to feature their first openly gay character in not just any movie, but a remake of a Disney classic.
With the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast officially one of the most anticipated movies of next year, and a trailer that looks just like the original cartoon (except with, you know, real people) we’ve all been dying to know what they sound like singing those iconic songs. I, for one, am most excited for Luke Evans to belt “Gaston” with as much gusto as the song allows for (a lot), but a ton of other classics will make their way into the picture, from the furniture and cutlery ensemble number “Be Our Guest” to the theme “Beauty and the Beast.” There’s been no official soundtrack release yet, but today we’ve gotten our first listen to Emma Watson’s Belle singing her part of the movie’s opening number.
The musical never completely died as a movie genre, but it did lay dormant for a good long while throughout the 1980s and ’90s, with only the occasional throwback like Pennies From Heaven, Newsies, or Everyone Says I Love You popping up, like an old memory. Back then, the movie business largely conceded its tradition of song-and-dance to Disney cartoons and MTV, assuming — wrongly — that the idea of flesh-and-blood actors breaking into big numbers in the middle of narrative feature films had become too cornball for the modern mass audience.
Back in May, Disney released the first teaser trailer for their live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, and although it was a rather lovely homage to the teaser for the classic animated version, it’s the only real preview we’ve had for the upcoming film. While we anxiously await the full official trailer, new concept art has debuted online that offers our first look at Lumiere and Cogsworth, along with a behind-the-scenes image of Gaston’s famous musical sequence.