Disney, Live Action, News

Disney’s ‘Cruella’ Courting ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ Co-Creator to Direct + Production to Start Next Year

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Well. It’s Friday! What better way to celebrate than by delivering more news surrounding everybody’s least favorite topic: Disney’s live-action remakes!

Three weeks ago, it was reported that Christopher Robin, Disney’s Hook-inspired take on its Winnie the Pooh franchise, secured a director in Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace, World War Z). Now, news broke this week of another upcoming live-action remake in Disney’s slate filling the director’s chair (and a little more).

Deadline revealed that Alex Timbers, best known now as the co-creator of Amazon’s original series Mozart in the Jungle, is in negotiations to direct Cruella for the studio.

Furthermore, actress Emma Stone – who just received a Golden Globe nomination for her role in La La Land – is currently circling the titular starring role (she’s actually been attached to the film for quite some time).

Assuming that all goes well with said negotiations (and Stone gets locked in for the role), Disney hopes to start production on Cruella early next year, with Timbers directing from a recent screenplay draft by Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow, Get On Up, Black Mass, Spectre). Andrew Gunn and Marc Platt – who’s also producing Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns and Snow White, for those keeping score at home – will produce this film.

If Alex Timbers’ name sounds familiar to some Frozen fans, that’s because he was originally set to direct the Broadway musical adaptation of the animated film before he bowed out last Summer.

Which brings me to my next point: aside from Mozart in the Jungle, Timbers has loads of experience in the Broadway world, directing hit-makers like Here Lies Love, Oh, Hello on Broadway, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Peter and the Starcatchers.

So does this mean that Cruella will be a musical (or will have musical elements)? I’d say there’s a possibility, especially due to the fact Emma Stone herself is coming off of a critically-acclaimed musical film (which was also produced by Marc Platt). Also, Mozart in the Jungle, while not necessarily a musical show, does have musical elements, so there’s that.

As for the film itself, Cruella will serve as a prequel story focusing on the origins of Cruella De Vil, the central villainess of One Hundred and One Dalmatians and one of Disney’s most iconic villains. According to a separate piece by The Hollywood Reporter, the film will reportedly be a period piece set some time during the ’80s.

If Emma Stone is indeed cast in the role, she’ll be the fourth actress to portray her in live-action. Glenn Close famously portrayed the character in the 1996 live-action 101 Dalmatians film and it’s 2000 sequel 102 Dalmatians. On TV, Victoria Smurfit recently portrayed the character on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, while Wendy Raquel Robinson played a version of the character in Disney Channel’s 2015 TV film Descendants (fun fact: Wendy was the first African-American actress in the role).

If Cruella does start production early next year as promised, the earliest the film could possibly be slotted in for is March 29, 2019 (one of four release dates  reserved by Disney for its live-action remakes). That date would position the film to open a few weeks after Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel and Universal Studios/DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 3.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to Cruella? Is Emma Stone the right choice for the role?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Brandon Smith

Brandon is your average nerd with a love for nerdy things (games, comics, anime/manga, etc.). He also loves reading and writing and plans to be an author someday. For now, he writes with passion and curiosity about the world of animation. He lives with his family in North Carolina and is currently attending college.
  • Manuel Orozco

    I do like Emma Stone but I rather stick to Wendy Raquel Robinson’s version of Cruella in Descendants. Also Glen Close is co-producing this movie too in case no one is aware.

  • I personally really like the idea of Emma Stone as her, she can be both really goofy but also come across as elegant, and this director also sound really awesome from what he’s worked on as well, I’m eagerly excited :DD

  • Jesse Jacobson
    • Manuel Orozco

      I’m carefully excited for that one.

  • I’m not excited for this, but good people are involved in its production. Cruella was a great Disney villain, so a movie about her backstory (while not necessary) would be interesting.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I’m not excited for it either

    • Jeremiah

      Of course, IF they don’t Maleficent it. Cruella is not nice. Explain her motivations, but don’t make the good guys the bad guys or just irrelevant.

      • Manuel Orozco

        I didn’t like King Stephen being turned to the bad guy

        • Jeremiah

          No. It seems Virginia Woolverton wanted to explore villains, make Maleficent more two dimensional. But she made Maleficent a nice, non-villain and King Stephen a villain. So you didn’t explore the villain’s mind, you exchanged the awesomest Disney villain of all time for… not.

          • Manuel Orozco

            I still enjoyed Maleficent regardless of all that.

          • Jeremiah

            I can’t sympathize, but good.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Sleeping Beauty wasn’t even one of my Disney favorites growing up but just to see the story told through it’s iconic antagonist gave it an interesting quality. Plus the visuals were just so beautiful

  • Katie

    Why wouldn’t they set it pre- 1950’s? That would work chronologically with the original film and make, in my opinion, a much better period piece. A WWII London setting could almost work (Although that may be getting into stuff that doesn’t fit into the film). Perhaps a 30’s Depression setting- Cruella is all about wealth and luxury.

    • brandon

      The director and screenwriter probably thought that the 80’s would make for a better backdrop for the type of story they want to tell, rather than thinking about “okay, does this story fit chronologically with the original animated film.”

      Remember, While most of these films are remakes, it seems that Disney is fine with writers and directors spinning their own takes on the stories, rather than rigidly adhering to the continuities of the original films.

      • Katie

        Oh- I completely understand that. I mean, look at how they changed Maleficent. In fact, I love that Disney is willing to give the directors, screenwriters, etc., artistic liberty on these remakes.

        At first thought, I just think it would have worked better as a period piece if it were set earlier (It working with the original would have been just an added bonus). However, I don’t know what kind of story they’re trying to tell, and I’m sure they chose the 80’s for a reason. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Tory

    I’m rather interested how they’re going to spin this movie about a woman who wants to make a fur coat out of puppies without it going into a redemption story.