Eight-time Academy Award®-winning composer Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame) has signed a non-exclusive, multi-picture deal with Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures to score non-animated films and compose for live-action projects, it was announced today by Mitchell Leib, President of music and soundtracks for Walt Disney Pictures & Television/Buena Vista Music Group. For his first assignment under this new deal, Menken will score as well as write five original songs for Walt Disney Pictures' upcoming romantic musical-fantasy, "Enchanted," which is being directed by Kevin Lima (Tarzan, 102 Dalmatians). For that project, Menken will reunite with Tony and Oscar®-winning lyricist Stephen Schwartz, his collaborator on Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Menken recently completed scoring Disney's upcoming live-action comedy, The Shaggy Dog, due in theaters on March 10th.
Under the terms of this new arrangement, Menken is expanding his role from within other divisions of The Walt Disney Company. For Disney Theatrical Productions, he is currently in preproduction on the stage version of The Little Mermaid. Menken is also developing a new animated musical, "The Frog Princess" for Walt Disney Feature Animation. For Disney Creative Entertainment, he is creating a stage musical of "The Snow Queen" set to debut at Tokyo DisneySea with Amon Miyamoto directing and John Weidman as the bookwriter and Glen Slater the lyricist. He is also writing music for a Sinbad attraction in Japan for Walt Disney Imagineering.
Menken's current slate of projects also includes composing an original score for the stage musical adaptation of "Sister Act" (based on the hit Touchstone Pictures' film) premiering this October at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Commenting on Menken's new expanded role, Leib said, "Alan is one of the greatest music composers and songwriters of all time, bar none. There is simply no one like him. The only reason he hasn't done more work for us in live-action to date is because the rest of Disney keeps him so busy working on animated films, theatrical stage plays, and theme park attractions. I feel very fortunate to now have him working on our live action films too."
Chris Montan, president of Walt Disney Music, added, "Alan became part of our world with 'The Little Mermaid' and has been making beautiful music for us ever since. He was an important part of our animation renaissance here at Disney and continues to be one of the most exciting, original, and prolific composer/songwriters of our times. We're thrilled to be working with him on such a wide variety of projects, and look forward to seeing him stretch his talents in new and innovative ways."
Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, said, "Everyone is familiar with Alan's incredible talents when it comes to writing songs for animated projects and theatrical productions, but he is also a great film composer in his own right. He has written a terrific score for 'The Shaggy Dog' and has expressed interest in writing music for other live-action films. Alan is a true Disney legend, and his music has enriched so many of our films."
Menken is best known for his hit animated musicals including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Beauty and the Beast as well as the stage version on the latter which has the distinction of being the longest running American musical. Menken is also known for the stage and film version of "Little Shop of Horrors."
His deal with Disney was brokered by Richard Kraft of Kraft-Engel Management.