Peter Pan and Walt Disney Studios go way back. In 1935, Walt Disney himself expressed interest in adapting the original play by J.M. Barrie. Disney expressed that he watched the play in 1913 when he was a child and became obsessed with the characters and story ever since. The plan initially was to begin production on the film after the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US military took control of the studio and the little dream project was shelved so that the animators could focus on training and war propaganda films. The film would eventually be picked up again, finished, and released to the world in February 5th, 1953. In 2022, Disney is going to take us back to Neverland again with a live-action retelling of the famous story in, Peter Pan & Wendy. Lost Children young (and young at heart) are sure to be curious about how Disney plans to return to these characters, here's the info we have so far to tide us over until then.
The announcement of Peter Pan & Wendy came in early in 2016. David Lowery and Toby Halbrooks, who had both previously worked together on the 2016 Pete's Dragon remake, came together again to pen the script for the film. David Lowery is also credited as the director and writer for the upcoming The Green Knight by A24. Toby Halbrooks has writing credits for the short film Dig as well as producer credits for 2017's A Ghost Story and 2020's Miss Juneteenth.
What can we expect from the live-action Peter Pan movie?
While the live-action Disney remakes have caused a bit of a divide in fans, skeptics of the film might have some relief in knowing that the director and writer seems to be keeping his priority on making a quality film. Indeed, Lowery has stated in interviews that his top priority is getting the Peter Pan and Wendy script correct, having made so far five drafts as of 2020 and probably more since. Lowery has expressed that, compared to Pete's Dragon, the Peter Pan script has been much more of a challenge due to it being such a popular title in the Disney Library. Lowery stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"There's a lot of expectations for a Peter Pan movie because people love it. And there's also the fact there's a lot of Peter Pan movies, and so I just want to make sure that if we make this one - I know Disney feels the same way - if we're going to make this one, let's make it right."
Lowery has also stated that he and his team are aware of the more harmful parts of the original film and are dedicated to make sure they're not repeated. "You're just like constantly, saying, Okay, culturally what works now? Something as simple as taking the guns out of the pirates' hands changes like a lot of beats from the classic Disney movie. I mean, Captain Hook has a lot of funny scenes with his pistol. The original Peter Pan movie's obviously horribly racist, and so that will have to go out the window." Indeed, the original 1953 film has its share of controversies. This is particularly centered in how the indigenous people are represented in the film. Where they are referred to as "Injuns" and sing the song "What Made the Red Man Red?", which compares their skin color to blushing. Because of this, the 1953 film has been made inaccessible to the profiles of children under 7 years old on Disney+. The film also has a disclaimer card on the streaming service warning new viewers of these elements.
Who is playing Peter Pan, Wendy and John and Michael in Peter Pan and Wendy?
The cast is filled with names both new and old to play these timeless characters. Alexander Molony will fill the titular role of Peter Pan, who's previous projects include television like The Reluctant Landlord and Claude. Peter Pan will be his debut live action film role. Ever Anderson will take the other titular role as Wendy Darling, who will also be playing a young Natasha Romanoff in Marvel's upcoming Black Widow movie. Her debut film credit is playing the young Alicia Marcus in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter; opposite of her mother, Milla Jovovich, who plays the character as an adult. Joshua Pickering, known from playing Jack in A Discovery of Witches, and debut actor Jacobi Jupe will fill in the roles of John and Michael Darling.
Who is Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Wendy?
For the infamous Captain Hook we have Jude Law. Law's previous film credits include The Talented Mr. Ripley, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and The Grand Budapest Hotel. In April, we got to see our first look at Law dressed up as the infamous pirate on set thanks to Film Updates. Sadly his hooked hand is tucked out of sight for these shots, but a photo with the hook would end up getting revealed in a later image that includes his trusty sidekick. The character of Captain Hook has always had a wide range over the years in the various Peter Pan films, being portrayed as scary as he is hilarious depending on what movie you're watching. With a career as successful as Jude Law's, it seems like fans might have a fun experience with him playing the role. Whether the script plays up the scares or the laughs, we're hoping that it's a treat!
Who is Mr. Smee in Peter Pan and Wendy?
Stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan will be playing Mr. Smee. Gaffigan has had a long, successful career in stand-up, television and in acting. His previous films include Super Troopers, 13 Going on 30, and Hotel Transylvania. This won't be his first or only role at Disney, the comedian will also be showing up in the upcoming Pixar film Luca as the voice of Lorenzo. We also got our first look at Gaffigan on set late in April courtesy of Just Jared. We also finally got to see Jude Law as Captain Hook, complete with signature hook! It will be interesting to see what Gaffigan will bring to this role, especially along side Law for this iconic duo.
Who is Tiger Lily in Peter Pan and Wendy?
Alyssa Wapanatâhk will be playing the warrior princess Tiger Lily. Wapanatâhk is a member of the Bistone Cree First Nation. She recently changed her name from Alyssa Alook to Alyssa Wapanatâhk back in October, as it was the name she was given at birth. She makes this announcement and the meaning behind it on her Instagram. She also made a short film, "The Boy and the Braid", which focused on an Indigenous boy's relationship with his culture. While the character of Tiger Lily, and the Indigenous tribes of Neverland, have not been the best representation over the years; it's refreshing to see the character being portrayed by an actress who has pride in herself and her people. Here's hoping that she, Lowery and Halbrooks will be able to give Tiger Lily the justice she's been needing since 1904.
Who else is in Peter Pan and Wendy?
Among the more veteran actors are Mister George and Miss Mary Darling, who are played by Alan Tudyk and Molly Parker. Alan Tudyk is no stranger to Disney, having had rolls such as Duke of Weselton in Frozen, K-2SO in Rogue One, and the voice of Iago in the 2019 Aladdin remake. His career also includes roles in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Patch Adams, Serenity and I,Robot. Meanwhile Molly Parker has an equally impressive career in both film and television. She was Maureen Robinson in the Netflix series Lost in Space, Juliet Beck in Waking the Dead, and Arlette James in the 2017 Netflix film 1922.
Are the Lost Boys in Peter Pan and Wendy?
Tiger Lily won't be the only character getting a much needed update as it seems like the Lost Boys won't be just a boy's club anymore. With the casting announcement, it was revealed that the club will start allowing girls to join as well. According to DisInsider, our group of kids will consist of Noah Matthews Matofsky as Slightly, Sebastian Billingsley-Rogriguez as Nibs, Skyler and Kelsey Yates as The Twins, Florence Bensberg as Curly (formerly Cubby in the 1953 film), and Caelan Edie as Tootles. Joining the gang will be Diana Tsoy as Birdie, and Felix de Sousa as Bellweather, two new Lost Kids that have been added to the original crew.
Who is Tinker Bell in Peter Pan and Wendy?
Finally, Yara Shahidi has been cast as the mischievous Tinker Bell. Shahidi previously gained her stardom by portraying Zoey Johnson in the sitcom Black-ish and later Grown-ish. While her television career is growing, she has also starred in films such as The Sun is Also a Star, which got her a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Summer Movie Actress in 2019. When asked about her role as the famous pixie, she has told variety "Tinkerbell is really fun. I think what I like most about this take is that Tinkerbell is coming with a lot of agency, you know? She may be a famous sidekick, but I love the fact that she is driven and motivated in her own ways. I don't want to give too much away, but I'm really looking forward to this adaptation." As of now we have not seen any sneak peeks at her outfit, but Shahidi has confirmed that she has worn her costume on set recently and thought it was really cool.
Is Peter Pan and Wendy already in production?
The film was originally supposed to begin shooting in April 2020, but was pushed back to March 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production is currently taking place in Vancouver, Canada. Filming is expected to wrap on June 30th of this year but considering how the pandemic has been affecting schedules in the industry, there could be more delays. Though fingers are crossed that everything goes as smooth as possible for everyone involved. Originally the film was going to have a theatrical run, but in December 2020 the film was announced as a Disney+ exclusive like the live action remake of Lady and the Tramp. There is no word yet of a paywall hiding this title for a few months like with the live action Mulan remake and the release of Raya and the Last Dragon. In December a Peter Pan & Wendy teaser trailer was also released revealing Big Ben, a glance over London, what could be Captain Hook's pirate ship, and the title!
What is the Peter Pan and Wendy release date on Disney+?
As of now, Disney Plus has set a release date of 2022 for the live-action remake of Peter Pan. If all hold well with the state of the world, we'd assume you see the movie hit Disney Premier around the holidays.
Disney magic and Peter Pan
With summer closing in on the world and the filming process coming to a close, hopefully this means another teaser will be on the horizon for audiences. While the live action remakes have caused a bit of a divide in Disney fans old and new, there will always be folks that are eager to return to Neverland, whether they be a child on the outside or on the inside. With a budget of $4 million and a box office gross of $6 million, Disney's 1953 Peter Pan become a big success at the box office, the film has earned a lifetime domestic gross of $87.4 million over the years. Since then, Peter Pan has flown his way into becoming a staple in the Disney library. This has resulted in the theme park ride, Peter Pan's Flight, in the various Disney parks as well as ice shows, video games, a musical and even a board game.
With all of this success, Disney has never shied away from dipping back into Neverland for reboots and spinoffs. Such returns to Neverland include a theatrical sequel in Peter Pan: Return to Neverland, and a spin-off show for Disney Junior in Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Even Tinker Bell the pixie would have her own spin-off franchise in the Tinker Bell film series, which consisted of six straight to DVD movies by Disneytoon Studios! Tinker Bell would also be used over the years as a mascot of Disney magic, appearing in promos for the theme parks and in episodes of The Wonderful World of Disney. There's no doubt about it, not only do audiences love Peter Pan, but so does Disney. In a way, Peter Pan himself is a bit of a model for the Disney brand and company. That no matter how old you are, there will always be a part of you that is open to magic, wonder and adventure.
Personally, I'm always open for another return to Neverland if the intentions are pure, and it seems like director David Lowery has his heart in the right place. When asked if there's a particular scene he wanted to do in Peter Pan and Wendy, this is what he had to say to Entertainment Weekly. "When I was a little kid, we were in Mexico and there's a field that my brothers and I would go up on. We'd just seen Last of the Mohicans, we were around 9 years old. And we would just get sticks and get to the top of the hill and run down the hill shouting, hooting and hollering all the way down. And I just want to capture that. For me, there's something about that that ties into Peter Pan so perfectly. There's a point in the script where a bunch of kids - there's plenty of kids in the movie - they're all running down the hill shouting, with sticks in their hands. And whether that image makes it to the final cut or not, that is the spirit I'm trying to imbue the film with, that excitement and freedom you have when you've got a hill in front of you and you're 9 years old and you can just run down it." The endless freedom, the untamed imagination, the energy of children playing and hollering, that seems like the kind of energy I'd want in a Peter Pan movie. Here's to hoping that this movie will deliver that very same energy and make us believe in fairies again.