Once again, another studio has beat Disney to the punch.
The Tracking Board got the first word that Chernin Entertainment is developing a live-action take on the character of Esmeralda, a character from Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame (and popularized by the 1996 Disney film of the same name).
Simply titled Esmeralda, the film will explore the events of the novel from the titular heroine’s perspective.
As with most non-Disney adaptations, the film’s adherence to the source material will ensure a much darker adaptation than the Disney version of the tale that most people are familiar with. For example, the Disney film and the novel feature Esmeralda as a streetwise Romani woman who is skilled in music and dance, is accompanied by a pet goat named Djali, and develops a bond with Notre Dame bell-ringer and hunchback Quasimodo. Unlike the Disney film, the novel ends tragically with Esmeralda being falsely convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Captain Phoebus. Quasimodo also bites the dust, as he decides to stay with Esmeralda’s dead body after getting revenge for her, dying of starvation as a result.
Obviously, a very different tale than the one you grew up with. There probably won’t be any musical numbers either.
The film does not have a distributor yet, but it could possibly end up at 20th Century Fox, where Chernin Entertainment is currently based. Recently, their deal has turned up major hits, like the new Planet of the Apes films and Paul Feig’s action-comedy Spy. Their next release is the Tim Burton-directed adaptation of the YA novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. They are also currently filming War of the Planet of the Apes.
Once again, Esmeralda is another film that didn’t make it on Disney’s current lineup of live-action fairy tale remakes, the other being The Little Mermaid. While I have no doubt that Disney might get around to a live-action Hunchback of Notre Dame movie at some point, one thing is certain: nobody will ever confuse the two movies.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Victor Hugo’s tragic tale, or Disney’s more light-hearted interpretation?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden