Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hollywood hot for fairytales

Hollywood has rediscovered fairytales.
Numerous movies and television shows lately have been based on characters and stories from age-old fairytales. The public knows and loves these tales. And Hollywood loves using them because they’re in the public domain. That means they’re no longer covered by copyright and are free for anyone to adapt.
Disney isn’t the only media company that can make a “Snow White” or “Cinderella” movie, TV show, stage play or book. Any company, high school theater group, writer or cartoonist can adapt these works. That’s what the public domain is all about. After a limited period of government protection, creative works are given to the public for reinterpretation, reimagining and repurposing.
The public domain is a great thing. Too bad it’s under attack by corporate media interests.
I last wrote about Hollywood adaptations of public domain works in October, when I discussed “Puss In Boots” and “The Three Musketeers.”
Here is a list of current and upcoming movies and TV shows based on public domain works:

‘Once Upon a Time’

The ABC fantasy-drama “Once Upon a Time” uses a universe of classic fairytale characters (including Snow White, Prince Charming, Jiminy Cricket, Rumpelstiltskin, etc.) as a launching pad for a modern story. ABC is a unit of the Walt Disney Co.

‘Into the Woods’

Walt Disney Pictures has joined forces with director Rob Marshall to make a film adaptation of Steven Sondheim’s Broadway musical “Into the Woods,” according to GeekTyrant.
While “Into the Woods” is a copyrighted work, it is based on stories in the public domain. The stage musical “Wicked” and the book on which it’s based did the same thing with the public domain “Wizard of Oz” stories. “Into the Woods” weaves together such beloved fairytales as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel with a new story.


The NBC horror-drama “Grimm” is a cop show where characters inspired by “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” exist.

Snow White

Two big-budget movies based on the centuries-old Snow White story are due for release in theaters this spring.
First up is “Mirror Mirror,” starring Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen. Directed by Tarsem Singh, this version of the tale is billed as a comedy-fantasy. The movie from Relativity Media is set for release on March 30.
“Snow White & the Huntsman” follows it on June 1. This version from Universal Studios is pitched as a fantasy-adventure film. It stars Charlize Theron as evil queen Ravenna, Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman.
But wait, there’s more.
The Hollywood Reporter said in August that Disney was producing a live-action Snow White movie called “The Order of the Seven.” The revisionist story is set in 19th century China and focuses more on Snow’s seven companions, who are warriors seeking redemption.

‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’

Set for release on Jan. 10, 2013, “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” takes place 15 years after siblings Hansel and Gretel escaped a witch’s gingerbread house in the Grimm Brothers tale. Now they’re out to kill witches all over the world.
The movie stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular characters. (See article by Entertainment Weekly.)

‘Jack the Giant Killer’

Director Bryan Singer turns the children’s tale “Jack and the Beanstalk” into an action adventure called “Jack the Giant Killer.” It stars Nicholas Hoult, Ian McShane and Ewan McGregor and is set for release on March 22, 2013. (See EW article.)


Disney is looking to remake the ages-old Cinderella tale with a script by “The Devil Wears Prada” writer Aline Brosh McKenna, according to Deadline.
Universal is planning its own Cinderella movie, Variety reports.

Beauty and the Beast

Director Guillermo del Toro is looking to film a “Beauty and the Beast” remake starring Emma Watson of the “Harry Potter” movies. His version would be a period film, according to MTV.
Director Christophe Gans is making a version of “Beauty and the Beast” starring Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
And two TV shows are in the works based on the fairy tale as well.
ABC is looking to make a dramatic fantasy-period series based on “Beauty and the Beast,” according to Deadline. And the CW wants to reboot the 1980s CBS version of “Beauty and the Beast,” a modern retelling that starred Linda Hamilton.

Sleeping Beauty

“True Grit” actress Hailee Steinfeld is set to star in a revisionist version of Sleeping Beauty. “The new version is told from her point of view as she enters the dream world and has to find her way out,” Deadline reports.
Meanwhile, Disney is working on a version called “Maleficent,” which would center on the wicked witch of the tale. Actress Angelina Jolie is rumored to be interested in the title role, Deadline and GeekTyrant say.
Update (Feb. 12, 2012): Jolie says she plans to make “Maleficent” her next movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

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