Tale as old as time
March 8, 2017 12:24 PM   Subscribe

‘Beauty and the Beast’: Inside Disney’s $300 Million Gamble"Disney already had other live-action remakes of animated classics on its assembly line, including “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book,” which would both become critical and commercial hits. But “Beauty and the Beast” was special. The imagery and music from the 1991 version have never faded, in part because Disney used the score as the foundation for a blockbuster Broadway musical that ran for 13 years and toured 20 countries. “Beauty and the Beast” also parted with Disney’s princess formula — she saves him — and it has come to symbolize a creatively fertile period from 1989 to 1999 known as the Disney Renaissance." posted by roomthreeseventeen (42 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This film was dead to me as soon as I found out that the completely alive and perfectly wonderful Angela Lansbury would not be voicing Mrs. Potts.
posted by anastasiav at 12:29 PM on March 8, 2017 [16 favorites]

ok but tbh Emma Thompson is more than amazing enough.
posted by numaner at 12:39 PM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

A gamble? Really? Disney probably has a special accounting entry for "IP Leftovers."

I guess I'd be more interested if they did something interesting to justify it as a live action artwork but the trailers really don't suggest that.
posted by selfnoise at 12:40 PM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

unabashed Disney fan chiming in.

I was a little cool on this at first.. mostly because of the designs of the Beast and Lumière. Especially Lumière's voice. (who I am certain is a wonderful voice actor but all the other house objects and the Beast himself sound almost exactly like the animated film, but Lumière does not. He sounds young. I'm being a bit of a pedant, sorry.)

But I've been exposed to enough advertising I'm like, "Alright damnit. Let's go see it."

And also this version of Gaston is hot. I am sure he's just as horrible (as he should be) but at least he's a good looking horrible.

Do we know if they asked Mrs. Lansbury? She might have turned it down. (I don't see any mention here about it one way or another, only that she seems confused why they're remaking it. psst, Mrs. Lansbury.. they're doing it so we have a new generation of fans.. which will equal more money for Disney)
posted by INFJ at 12:59 PM on March 8, 2017

I really like Josh Gad, but why are we having the "first gay Disney character" argument about Lefou? The dude is basically a palette-swapped Smee. Is he a minor tragicomic figure now because of his longings? I feel profoundly ambivalent about that, and about every other snippet I have seen.

Dan Stevens is no Ron Perlman, but I've had to reconcile myself to the fact that no one else can be. I want this to be really good, and I'm a sucker, so ...
posted by Countess Elena at 1:00 PM on March 8, 2017

also does that third article hint that Gaston does not fall screaming down a chasm with his hair down because seriously what is my ticket paying for if that's not happening
posted by Countess Elena at 1:03 PM on March 8, 2017

Emma Watson in a remake of Beauty and the Beast is a gamble?

I need to start gambling.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:13 PM on March 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

I wonder if they adjust the timeline so that the Enchantress doesn't curse an 11 year old boy and his entire household just because he wasn't polite enough.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:24 PM on March 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

A friend of mine posted a share about how there's a long history of gay characters antagonizing and assisting straight characters and the only way that this would be groundbreaking would be Gaston jacking Lefou off on a provincial beach somewhere, this really isn't anything new. I am refraining from copying the gay sex version of the Gaston song that was then created in the comments.
posted by Hactar at 1:25 PM on March 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

I don't want to ruin this movie (and I haven't seen it yet), but apparently Lefou definitely has a happier outcome than assisting or antagonizing Gaston.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:28 PM on March 8, 2017

Walt Disney himself gravitated toward “Cinderella” and other fairy tales largely because he saw a way to use an innovative cinematic art form (in his case, hand-drawn animation) to bring the characters to life in an engaging, contemporary manner. make a shit-ton of cash from a story for which he would pay not a cent of royalties.
It'll be no Cocteau, that's for sure.
posted by scruss at 1:29 PM on March 8, 2017 [10 favorites]

I am refraining from copying the gay sex version of the Gaston song that was then created in the comments.

You should be ashamed of yourself
posted by wabbittwax at 1:30 PM on March 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

They still drink porridge straight from the bowl, no? No??????
posted by benadryl at 1:32 PM on March 8, 2017

I don't know about Cinderella or Beauty & The Beast, but The Jungle Book was a treasure. They exceeded every expectation with that one.
posted by mikelieman at 1:35 PM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

The Cocteau version was amazing, but you know what? This is the type of narrative that needs to die, along with stories about vampires being sexy. We need stories with emotionally healthier values. I think by now most women know you can't change him and he doesn't love you "underneath it all." Parents today (I hope) are not excited to teach our children this is how romantic love works.

I'm looking forward to seeing this fail at the box office simply for being outdated on almost every level.
posted by jbenben at 1:35 PM on March 8, 2017 [16 favorites]

Emma Watson in a remake of Beauty and the Beast is a gamble?

She's not a strong singer (plus, Disney doesn't have a fantastic track record with live action "cartoon" films, IIRC). But other than that, yeah, the "gamble" is on something that might only make vast butt-loads of money instead of obscene truck-loads of money.

And it's Disney we are talking about here. If this completely bombs they always have "Frozen II - Give Us Your Fucking Money" and "Car Story 8 - Lookit These Action Figures" to help balance the books.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:38 PM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

I always saw B&tB as a story that you had to tell young women to help them deal with the fact that they were about to get married off to a total stranger, telling them yeah, it's traumatic and you will probably hate him and you'l be basically his property but if you're lucky he turns out to not be a total asshole and you'll survive the whole sex thing and be taken care of because he's rich. Hopefully.

Cinderella, likewise; hey your dad might remarry and the new wife might basically try to kill you so her kids will have a better shot at the inheritance and that sucks but maybe you can marry some decent dude and get the hell out. Try to stay pretty and nice to make that more likely!

I mostly didn't read any fairy tales to my son; I couldn't think of a good reason to do that to a kid. We read a lot of myths because they are more interesting, and plenty of stories with magic in them, just not the "classic" ones. He is free to read them now or whenever on his own but as useful cultural material they are showing their seams.
posted by emjaybee at 1:49 PM on March 8, 2017 [24 favorites]

To me Disney epitomises laziness and creative poverty. They know they had a near-monopoly of children's films for a long time and they are good at monetising the nostalgia which, as a result, you can't help feeling for the corny, cynical product you more or less had to consume at a vulnerable age.
posted by Segundus at 1:54 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I was little, I heard the version in which the Beast is always very kind, so I have an unironic soft spot for the story. I'd like to say it helped teach me about kindness, sacrifice and not judging by appearance. But, if it did, it also failed to impart the lesson that a guy who asks you to marry him right away is someone who has serious problems that have nothing to do with you personally. I really wish I had heard that early on. Would have come in mighty handy.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:58 PM on March 8, 2017 [11 favorites]

Ms Watson may not be a strong singer but she's got a fanatical fanbase that grew up watching her and a good portion of that fanbase that would be happier than hell to see her in a film based on one of their childhood favorites. Hell, a fair amount of that fanbase are parents who will drag their kids into the theaters for this one.

Gonna be a good year if you have Disney stock.
posted by Ber at 2:26 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I remember seeing the preview of Beauty and the Beast in theatres, and I remember going, "Oh! How nice! Disney redesigned the castle for their intro screen! That's cool! waaaaaaait....." and that's all I got to say.
posted by yueliang at 2:27 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think the Disney B&B is a really toxic message. Like, yeah, he's a literal monster, and he's volitile and shouty and throws things and terrifies you periodically, and everyone is afraid of him. But he's good inside and you can change him, girl! And only you can change him! And if you can't change him, it's because you didn't love him enough. It's YOUR FAULT.

Good songs tho.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:29 PM on March 8, 2017 [25 favorites]

Tale as old as time

I took this to be a reference to the original tale being a folk version of the ancient myth of Eros and Psyche.
posted by Segundus at 2:31 PM on March 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Alls I know is, those trailers squick me right out. It worked OK when they were both cartoons, but when she's Emma Watson and he's a CGI buffalo-man, the bestiality aspect seems more overt AND it wanders into the uncanny valley. (He kind of looks like a taxidermied buffalo-man.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:59 PM on March 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

Beast might be risky for some varieties of risky. I mean it's riskier than doing another Marvel movie or a Tangled or Frozen sequel but still moderately safe despite Emma Watson being a so-so singer. I am actually kind of surprised that they didn't use Anne Hathaway as she's a solid singer.

But it's got an incredible score to work from and Gaston is by far one of the most popular villains of all time as evidenced by his getting a section of Disney World to himself and his live action cast member is generally only slightly less popular than the princesses among park goers.
posted by vuron at 3:19 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

"I always saw B&tB as a story that you had to tell young women to help them deal with the fact that they were about to get married off to a total stranger"

One of the ways the story of Beauty and the Beast was taught to me in a university class years ago, is that Belle is a cultural agent that humanises the Beast and sways him from destructive rage and melancholy. For herself Belle must get past the Beast to see the man. Sort of a variation of Gilgamesh / Enkidu, I guess is where my professor was going with it. I'm not sure it is any better any other interpretation.

At least it is better than the Disney version of the story of Pocahontas.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:32 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Fun facts- the original story was concocted by the Venetian Giovanni Francesco Straparola (1480-1558) as part of a collection that was quite the hit in its day. (Pig King is the relevant entry.)

Fast forward a few years and meet Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (1685 – 1755). A member of the minor aristocracy, she married another such, a silly man who promptly squandered most of their joint inheritance, causing her to leave him. He died soon after, and her fortunes continued downhill until she met a popular playwright and moved in with him. And took up writing. Good enough to warrant mutual admiration with Voltaire.

Her original story was long and complicated (shaggy dog is an apt adjective) and filched by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711-1780), another Frenchwoman of more modest rank, who went to England to be a governess. He later claim to fame was as the mistress fellow Frenchman Thomas Pichon, the Judas of Arcadia, who sold out French Canadian interests to the English in Canada's Father Le Loutre's War and so had to retire to London. She it was who cut the story down for children's consumption.

And so on down the ages until it lands with a shudder in L.A.

(Another interpretation suggests that the Beast was more a symbol of aristocratic but rural rubes who didn't know what fork to use when they came to Versailles, and the women who civilize them - but that's more than I know.)
posted by BWA at 5:32 PM on March 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

"But, if it did, it also failed to impart the lesson that a guy who asks you to marry him right away is someone who has serious problems that have nothing to do with you personally"

Good news, they snuck that lesson into Frozen.

Also, the first openly gay character in Disney is Wandering Oaken (of the Trading Post and Sauna, and his husband is dishy) and I will not be told otherwise!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:07 PM on March 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

I can't help it, the animated version is my favorite movie of the Disney Renaissance, though perhaps tied with Mulan. (I like Tangled and Frozen quite a bit, as well). I'm looking forward to the live action film, though I can't imagine it replacing the animated version in my pantheon of great animation.

As far as live-action remakes, The Jungle Book was pretty good, and a commercial success. There's nothing wrong with WDC taking fair use IP and using it to make money, that's how it works. You're free to not give Disney your money, there are plenty others who will, because Disney does a good job of telling stories -- sometimes better than other times, but no one's perfect.
posted by lhauser at 10:01 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Why Is the Prince in Beauty and the Beast Always Less Hot Than the Beast? I dunno, i don't really consider a super cranky buffalo-headed dude with a giant mouthful of teeth who can't possibly make out with you without eating your face to be hot*, so what's with you?

* I don't even want to think about beast genitalia.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:35 PM on March 8, 2017

Especially Lumière's voice. (who I am certain is a wonderful voice actor

It is true that Jerry Orbach sort of defined the role in the original movie. I hear they've hired some Scottish kid this time around. Maybe this'll launch his career.
posted by hippybear at 4:01 AM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

We're not saying you can change him, cause people don't really change. We're only saying that love's a force that's powerful and strange.
posted by Night_owl at 7:36 AM on March 9, 2017

Night_owl ->and that was a song that made me feel really bad. It would have been funny if they are saying 'well, he's not a rock troll, but your taste may vary'...

posted by dreamling at 8:59 AM on March 9, 2017

I'm a big fan of finding the twisted moral in children movies (stalking pays off in Wall-E; it's ok to give up on your dreams according to Up, especially if they are in the way of younger people's dreams; Wreck-it-Ralph is a cautionary tale about the dangers of trying to rise above your station) but the lesson of Beauty and the Beast always seemed to me to, I don't know, don't judge a book by its cover? Don't shun someone because they're different? The Beast is angry and troubled due to circumstances (still immature, arrogant, coupled with the fact that he's also freaking cursed to look hideous), but he needs someone to teach him to be human, to love. He imprisons Belle for selfish reasons but finally let's her go because he comes to genuinely care for her (even knowing this will kill him). The movie actually navigated quite well through some of the trickiest parts of the original story (the beast begged her to marry him over and over, she longed for the handsome prince from her dreams, etc.) The forced nature of their relationship always seemed to me a narrative constraint (him trying to force-break the curse, then learning to be selfless), rather than a commentary on real life forced/arranged/unhappy relationships.
posted by infinitelives at 10:41 AM on March 9, 2017

infinitelives, above, is totally correct of course. It's a story about recognizing the humanity in people you are at odds with, being selfless, and learning to love...

In real life, though, it's a blueprint explaining how women get stuck in abusive relationships since at the end he rarely/never turns into a prince.
posted by jbenben at 10:57 AM on March 9, 2017

As a counter to the abusive relationship business, Belle is probably the only person who sees Gaston for the worthless, self-obsessed ass-hat that he is. Everyone else is stuck in an abusive relationship with Gaston, she thinks he's ridiculous. She doesn't stay with the beast because she believes she can change him, she does it to protect her father (which, as a father of daughters, I have to say I find sort of odd. I'd take a bullet for my girls and if one of them said "No, you leave and I'll take your place", my response would be "You are out of your mind. Get the hell out now, that's an order. Light a candle on my birthday if it will make you feel better. Don't let the door hit you in the ass").
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:33 AM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Another important lesson is when you're like 9 years old you should let creepy people in your house and take care of them or they could ruin your fucking life and the lives of everyone around you even though they have no idea what happened.
posted by Tarumba at 11:59 AM on March 9, 2017

Now that some criticism has shown up and I feel that I won't be ruining people's enjoyment of the movie, I will post the lyrics:
Jacks like Gaston
No one wacks like Gaston
No one tenderly wipes of your back like Gaston


No one spanks like Gaston
No one wanks like Gaston
No one's fingerprints bruise other's flanks like Gaston
He's especially awesome at masturbating
Hey what a gay, Gaston!


No one plumbs like Gaston
No one comes like Gaston
No one else does that thing with his thumbs like Gaston
When he's through with Lefou he'll be just as exhausted
Oh what a bro

I skipped Stockholm syndrome IN SPACE! the movie (Passengers) and have no desire to watch Stockholm syndrome: The Live Action Adaptation! The songs are great, but even the best retelling of Beauty and the Beast that I've found (Ursula Vernon's Byrony and Roses) still has elements of a prisoner falling in love with her captor because he's all she has. It makes me think that the only way I can truly appreciate this is to view Belle's falling in love as a ploy and adopt Mallory Ortberg's far superior alternate ending.
posted by Hactar at 1:51 PM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

* I don't even want to think about beast genitalia.

You should probably avoid this film then (speaking of Beauty and the Beast...)
posted by gtrwolf at 6:43 PM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Atlanta Hawks kiss cam Beauty & The Beast promotion...with a twist ending.
posted by terooot at 3:00 PM on March 12, 2017

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