There are a lot of big movies coming out next year, but at this point, it seems like the general public might be the most excited for Beauty and the Beast. This is the latest in Disney's strategy of remaking animated classics as live-action movies and that strategy has worked very well so far. But Angela Lansbury, who lent her voice to the original animated Beauty and the Beast, doesn't feel overly confident about this new version.
The actress recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly in honor of the 25th anniversary of the animated Beauty and the Beast. Angela Lansbury voiced Mrs. Potts in the original and when she was asked about this upcoming remake, she seemed a bit defensive and to say the least, not exactly positive about it. Here is what she had to say.
"I was a bit taken aback, naturally. I thought, 'Why? Why are we doing this over again?' But I guess, I don't know why they're doing it. But they are and it will be interesting to see what they do with it. These are live action pieces and I know very well the actress who's playing Mrs. Potts and she's a very good friend of mine. It's Emma Thompson. I don't quite know why they're doing it. I can't understand what they're going to do with it that will be better than what we've already done. And how they're doing it live - it may turn to be very entertaining and wonderful. It won't be like the cartoon that we did, but it's a good story - it's one of the famous fairy stories that is known worldwide by children. Therefore, why not? I don't blame them for doing it. But, I'm sorry, they're not really on our territory. We did it as cartoon characters, and that is quite different from live actors."
Despite Angela Lansbury's doubts, Disney has assembled a very impressive cast for Beauty and the Beast, which includes Harry Potter alum Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. They are joined by Luke Evans, Oscar winner Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Oscar nominee Ian McKellen and two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts. If this movie is bad or can't seem to justify its existence, as Angela Lansbury suggests, it certainly doesn't appear that it will be for a lack of talent.
Angela Lansbury may not understand why Disney is doing this new Beauty and the Beast, but it isn't rocket science. Quite simply, the studio has had a tremendous amount of success with these live-action adaptations so far. Starting with Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, which made more than $1 billion worldwide back in 2010. Since then, they have also had success with Maleficent, Cinderella and The Jungle Book, which was one of the highest-grossing ($966 million) and best-reviewed movies this year. Disney has no reason to think Beauty and the Beast won't be at least as successful at this point. The studio also has several other live-action projects in development, including Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King.
Academy Award winner Bill Condon is directing the movie with eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken returning to score this new live action version. He won two Oscars for the 1991 animated movie. Beauty and the Beast will also feature new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, in addition to several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice. Disney's Beauty and the Beast is set for release on March 10, 2017.