Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 American musical romantic fantasy film directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films, the film is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1991 animated film of the same name, itself an adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s 1756 version of the fairy tale. Starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the eponymous Belle and the Beast, the film features an ensemble and choir cast including Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson.
A live-action Beauty and the Beast remake was first announced in April 2014, with Condon hired to direct it; Watson, Stevens, Evans and the rest of the cast signed on between January and April 2015. Filming took place primarily at Shepperton Studios in England from May to August 2015. With an estimated budget of around $255 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made.
Beauty and the Beast premiered at Spencer House in London on February 23, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States in standard, Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3D, IMAX, and IMAX 3D formats, along with Dolby Cinema on March 17, 2017. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised its cast, songs, and visual detail. It grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing live-action musical film, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 2017 (after Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and, at one time, the tenth-highest-grossing film of all time. The film received several accolades, including two nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, four nominations at the 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards, and two nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards. A spin-off television series, Little Town, was in development for Disney+, but has been put on hold.
Previously, Disney had begun work on a film adaptation of the 1994 Broadway musical. However, in a 2011 interview, composer Alan Menken stated the planned film version of the Beauty and the Beast stage musical “was canned”.
By April 2014, Walt Disney Pictures had already begun developing a new live-action version of Beauty and the Beast after making other live-action fantasy films such as Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book. Two months later, Bill Condon signed on to direct the film from a script by Evan Spiliotopoulos. Later in September of that same year, Stephen Chbosky (who directed Emma Watson in The Perks of Being a Wallflower) was hired to re-write the script.
Before Condon was hired to direct the film, Disney approached him with a proposal to remake the film in a more radical way as Universal Studios had remade Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). Condon later explained that “after Frozen opened, the studio saw that there was this big international audience for an old-school-musical approach. But initially, they said, ‘We’re interested in a musical to a degree, but only half full of songs.’ My interest was taking that film and doing it in this new medium—live-action—as a full-on musical movie. So I backed out for a minute, and they came back and said, ‘No, no, no, we get it, let’s pursue it that way.'” Walt Disney Pictures President of Production Sean Bailey credited Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan F. Horn with the decision to make the film as a musical: “We worked on this for five or six years, and for 18 months to two years, Beauty was a serious dramatic project, and the scripts were written to reflect that. It wasn’t a musical at that time. But we just couldn’t get it to click and it was Alan Horn who championed the idea of owning the Disney of it all. We realized there was a competitive advantage in the songs. What is wrong with making adults feel like kids again?” The film’s ending originally featured Gaston being cursed by the Enchantress, though the idea was scrapped.
- Emma Watson as Belle, a young benevolent bibliophile who seeks for life beyond the confines of her village. She develops feelings for the Beast and begins to see the humanity within him. Watson was announced to have been cast on January 26, 2015. She was the first and only choice of Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan F. Horn, who had previously run Warner Bros. which released the eight Harry Potter films that starred Watson as Hermione Granger. Watson had previously been attached to star in Guillermo del Toro’s film adaptation of the original fairy tale for Warner Bros., but the project never materialized. Susan Egan, who originated the role of Belle in 1994 Broadway musical, commented on the casting of Watson as “perfect”, while Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle in the original 1991 animated film, said “if she was producing that movie, Watson would’ve been her first choice… She’s got the intelligence, she’s got the humor”. Watson was paid $3 million upfront, with an agreement that her final take-home pay could rise as high as $15 million if the film generated gross box office income similar to $758 million worldwide gross of Maleficent.
- Daisy Duczmal as infant Belle
- Dan Stevens as the Beast, a cold-hearted, selfish, unkind prince who has been transformed into a talking beast and forced to earn back his humanity by learning to truly love and be loved in return, as well as to give rather than take. Stevens portrays the character through motion-capture.
- Adam Mitchell as the younger version of the prince
- Luke Evans as Gaston, a narcissistic and arrogant hunter and veteran of the French Royal Army who seeks to have Belle as his trophy wife. Evans was announced to have been cast on March 4, 2015. Idris Elba also auditioned for the role.
- Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s protective widowed father who works as a music box maker and an artist.
- Jolyon Coy as young Maurice
- Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s flamboyant, illiterate, animal-loving and long-suffering sidekick who bolsters his friend’s ego but often disagrees with his decisions.
- Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the Beast’s charismatic maître d’ who has been transformed into a candelabra.
- Stanley Tucci as Cadenza, a neurotic composer (who is described as “a neurotic maestro”) and Madame de Garderobe’s husband who has been transformed into a harpsichord.
- Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, a world-renowned opera singer and Cadenza’s wife who has been transformed into a wardrobe.
- Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, a castle maid and Lumière’s lover who has been transformed into a feather duster.
- Hattie Morahan as Agathe, an enchantress responsible for cursing the Prince, and who lives incognito in Belle’s village as a “hag”. Morahan also narrates the prologue.
- Rita Davies portrays the enchantress in her beggar woman form. The film was released posthumously after Davies’ death.
- Nathan Mack as Chip, Mrs. Potts’ plucky son who has been transformed into a teacup.
- Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the Beast’s strict but loyal butler and the head of the household staff who has been transformed into a mantel clock.
- Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, the castle’s motherly head housekeeper who has been transformed into a teapot.
The film also features Thomas Padden as Chapeau, the prince’s valet who has been transformed into a coat rack, and Clive Rowe as Cuisinier, the castle’s head chef who has been transformed into a stove. Additionally, Sophie Reid, Rafaëlle Cohen, and Carla Nella appear as the Village Lasses, a trio of women who fawn over Gaston and are jealous of Belle. Jimmy Johnston, Dean Street, and Alexis Loizon appear as Tom, Dick, and Stanley, a trio of men who are friends with Gaston and LeFou and serve as the former’s henchmen. Adrian Schiller appears as Monsieur D’Arque, the sly warden of the local asylum who is bribed by Gaston to have Maurice institutionalized. Gerard Horan appears as Monsieur Jean Potts, Mrs. Potts’ husband and Chip’s father. Haydn Gwynne appears as Clothilde, a fishmonger and Cogsworth’s wife. Michael Jibson appears as the Tavern Keeper, the owner and keeper of Villeneuve’s local tavern. Ray Fearon appears as Père Robert, Villeneuve’s local chaplain who encourages Belle to borrow the books in the chapel’s meager library. Zoe Rainey appears as Belle’s mother, Maurice’s late wife who contracted the plague and died when Belle was an infant. Gizmo appears as Frou-Frou, Maestro Cadenza’s and Madame de Garderobe’s pet Yorkshire Terrier who has been transformed into a footstool. Tom Turner appears as the King, the prince’s father who, following his wife’s death, raised his son to be just as arrogant and selfish as he was. Harriet Jones appears as the Queen, the Prince’s mother who died of an illness when he was a child. Dale Branston appears as Villeneuve’s resident baker. Chris Andrew Mellon appears as Nasty Headmaster, the unnamed headmaster of an all-boys school in Villeneuve that disapproves of Belle teaching a young girl how to read. Vivian Parry appears as the Village Lasses’ mother, an unnamed seamstress. Stephen Merchant was set to appear as Monsieur Toilette, a servant who was turned into a toilet, but his scenes were cut from the theatrical release of the film.
March 17, 2017
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