Will Smith Says No to Disney's Dumbo?
Did Bad Boys 3 get delayed for nothing? It was rumored that the upcoming sequel, titled Bad Boys for Life, was in danger of being canceled altogether as Will Smith entered negotiations for a human role in Disney's live-action adaptation of its animated classic Dumbo. While Will Smith was never confirmed for that impending fairy tale adventure about a circus elephant with big ears, it was later announced that Bad Boys 3 was being bumped from January to November 2018. And that the previously planned Bad Boys 4 was being indefinitely delayed. Many speculated Dumbo was to blame, but that may not be the case.
Dumbo was announced as part of Disney's release slate last April. But has only recently started casting, with Tim Burton set to direct. Will Smith was reportedly in negotiations to star in the movie about the flying pachyderm. But it now appears that those talks have broken down, and Will Smith has exited the mouse house.
Star Magazine claims that Smith and Disney simply could not come to an agreement over his salary, and that scheduling issues (most likely with Bad Boys 3) were getting in the way. Disney has been pushing hard to set a release date, as they want production up and running soon. But Will Smith just couldn't clear his schedule, and the amount of money Disney was offering didn't offer an incentive to clear some of those dates on his work calendar.
Ehren Kruger, the screenwriter behind Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Brothers Grimm, is writing the screenplay. When Will Smith was first announced, some speculated that he was wanted to play a CG version of the main elephant, as The Jungle Book had recently used big name actors to portray its cast of animals via motion-capture. That report was false, and it was later announced that Will Smith was wanted as the father to two children who befriend Dumbo. Now, it sounds like someone else will have to fill that role.
No Dumbo story details have been released, but Disney's other recent animated-to-live-action adaptations have held pretty firmly to the already established plots of their predecessors. This spring's Beauty and the Beast is an almost spot on recreation of the classic 90s cartoon version. Disney wants big name talent under its Dumbo big top. While Will Smith may not be attached to star, Disney is still pursuing Tom Hanks to play the main villain in the movie. The actor has been offered the role, but he hasn't said yes yet. Hanks previously played Walt Disney himself in the P.L. Travers biopic Saving Mr. Banks.
Disney still hasn't set a production start date for Dumbo, and this likely sets them back as they search for another leading man to take over the role. Shooting is expected to being this summer, though. And now it sounds like Will Smith can concentrate his energy on Bad Boys for Life, which has a very hungry fan base awaiting its debut in theaters, perhaps more so than a live-action version of Dumbo.