23 Disney classics making live-action magic on screen
Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
In 2010, Alice went to Wonderland and kicked off Disney’s recent crop of live-action revivals of the studio’s classic films. Based on Lewis Carroll’s fantasy novels and inspired by 1951’s animated Alice in Wonderland, the Tim Burton-directed film starred Mia Wasikowska as Alice alongside a star-studded cast of Wonderland characters (Johnny Depp as the Mad Matter, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, and the voices of Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, and more). Alice was a box office smash, earning more than $1 billion worldwide, and a sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, arrived in theaters on May 27, 2016.
Since then, the House of Mouse has embarked on a long run of live-action remakes. Keep clicking for a rundown of all of 'em, from recent box office hits to films still in development.
Maleficent (2014) and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)
The horn-headdressed, baby-cursing sorceress from Disney’s 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty got a film of her own in 2014 with Maleficent. Starring Angelina Jolie in the title role, the film delved into the iconic villain’s origin story and her relationship with Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). Maleficent took in more than $758 million at the worldwide box office, and Jolie and Fanning returned for a 2019 sequel titled Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
Lily James stepped into Cinderella’s iconic glass slippers in 2015 for a live-action retelling of Disney’s 1950 film, with Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden as her charming prince, Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother, and Cate Blanchett as her wicked stepmother. Directed by Kenneth Branagh from a screenplay by Chris Weitz (who also wrote Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), the film cast a spell on filmgoers and brought in $543.5 million at the global box office.
The Jungle Book (2016)
Welcome (back) to the jungle — Disney’s 1967 animated film came back to the big screen in 2016 with a live-action retelling helmed by director Jon Favreau. The Jungle Book starred Neel Sethi as the man-cub Mowgli alongside a deep roster of A-list stars as the voices of his animal friends and enemies, including Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, and Christopher Walken. The film raked in an impressive $103 million in its opening weekend in theaters and Disney has already greenlit a sequel with Favreau returning to direct. (A separate Jungle Book movie, directed by Andy Serkis, debuted on Netflix in 2018.)
Pete’s Dragon (2016)
The 1977 live-action/cartoon hybrid about an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend — an occasionally visible dragon named Elliot — got new life in a big-screen adaptation that opened in theaters on Aug. 12, 2016. Directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), Pete’s Dragon reimagines the story for modern times and stars Oakes Fegley as Pete, Bryce Dallas Howard as the park ranger who finds the boy living “alone” in the forest, and Robert Redford as her character’s father.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
The tale as old as time got a new chapter in 2017, when the 1991 classic — the first animated movie to ever get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture — returned to theaters as a live-action musical starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Beauty and the Beast's cast also includes Luke Evans as Gaston, Josh Gad as Le Fou, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, Stanley Tucci as Cadenza, Kevin Kline as Maurice, and Audra McDonald as Garderobe. The new Beauty shattered box office records when it debuted, raking in more than $357 million globally.
Christopher Robin (2018)
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Tim Burton already brought his fantastical style to the 2010 live-action Alice in Wonderland, and in 2019, he headed to the circus with a new take on Dumbo. Colin Farrell stars as a former horse showman who returns from World War I to work at a circus on the verge of financial ruin (run by Danny DeVito). There, he and his two children cross paths with the titular flying elephant.
Did somebody find a lamp and wish for a live-action Aladdin? In October 2016, it emerged that a new take on the 1992 animated classic was in the works, with Guy Ritchie on board to direct. The new film debuted in 2019 and starred Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine, and Will Smith as the Genie, filling the iconic shoes — although, does the Genie even wear shoes? — of Robin Williams.
The Lion King (2019)
After the success of Jon Favreau’s live-action The Jungle Book, Disney let him run wild with another of its beloved animated movies. Favreau’s new reimagining of The Lion King debuted in summer 2019, and its star-studded cast included Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, and John Oliver as Zazu — as well as the return of James Earl Jones as Mufasa.
Lady and the Tramp (2019)
Liu Yifei stars as the beloved female warrior Hua Mulan, who disguises herself as a man and enlists in the Chinese Imperial Army to save her ailing father. Niki Caro (Whale Rider) directs a cast that includes Donnie Yen, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, and Jet Li. Mulan was originally set to hit theaters in March 2020 but has since been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Little Mermaid (release date TBD)
We're headed back under the sea: grown-ish star Halle Bailey (one-half of R&B sister act Chloe x Halle) has been cast as the mermaid Ariel in the new musical retelling of The Little Mermaid. Rob Marshall of Mary Poppins Returns is directing the new film, which will feature both original music from Alan Menken and Howard Ashman and new songs written by Menken with lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (release date TBD)
For another live-action adaptation, Disney is going all the way back to its first-ever animated movie: 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In October 2016, news broke that the studio was planning a new live-action musical about the fairest of them all, with Girl on the Train writer Erin Cressida Wilson in negotiations to write the script. The plan is to expand upon the original story and music from the 1937 film, with La La Land lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul on board to write the movie’s new songs.
Lilo & Stitch (release date TBD)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (release date TBD)
Quasimodo returns! A live-action version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is also in the works, inspired by the 1996 animated film and the original Victor Hugo novel. Tony winner David Henry Hwang is writing the script, with original composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz back on board as well.
Pinocchio (release date TBD)
Also in development is a long-gestating version of Pinocchio. At one point, both 1917’s Sam Mendes and Paddington’s Paul King were attached to direct (with Tom Hanks in talks to play Geppetto), but they’ve since departed the project. Now, Back to the Future alum Robert Zemeckis has signed on to direct.
Bambi (release date TBD)
Back in 2015, Saturday Night Live poked fun at Disney’s slew of remakes with a parody trailer for Bambi, starring Dwayne Johnson as a gun-toting, cigar-chomping deer. Now, that prophecy is being fulfilled, with Captain Marvel’s Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Chaos Walking’s Lindsey Beer writing the script for a new photorealistic version. The new Bambi is expected to be in the same “live-action” style of The Jungle Book or The Lion King — but no word yet on whether Johnson will play the titular fawn.
Robin Hood (release date TBD)
Hercules (release date TBD)
The hero who puts the glad in gladiator is also getting a live-action remake. Dave Callaham (who wrote Marvel’s upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) is writing a new version of the 1997 animated classic, with Avengers directors Joe and Anthony Russo serving as producers. Our biggest question: Who will voice the Muses?
Peter Pan and Wendy (release date TBD)
For yet another live-action remake, Disney is following the second star to the right for a new retelling of J.M. Barrie’s classic. David Lowery, who directed Pete’s Dragon, will helm the new film Peter Pan & Wendy, which he’s also co-writing with Toby Halbrooks. Ever Anderson and Alexander Molony will play Wendy and Peter, with Jude Law donning Captain Hook’s plumed hat.