Disney's Upcoming Slate Of Fairytake & Live-Action Movies Put Women Front & Center, & That's A Great Thing
Most of us grew up with the Disney version of fairytales, but while many of today's children will still grow up to adore Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast, they will also exist in a world where these stories have been retold by Disney for a second time with far more modern values. Disney has made a push to retell fairytales and other iconic stories on film, often with a twist on the original tale. Disney's 2014 film Maleficent did so by giving Sleeping Beauty's notorious villain a backstory so heartbreaking it made everyone think twice about her so-called "evil" nature. The film, an enormous box office success, set the tone for future Disney films to come — not only in the retelling of fairytales, but in having a woman lead the story. The new slate of Disney's upcoming live-action fairytale films proves that Disney is doing right by women by giving them a chance to tell their story.
According to a study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women made up only 29 percent of major characters onscreen, and only 30 percent of speaking roles, in 2014. The stats aren't any better behind the scenes. In 2014, 85 percent of films had no female directors and 80 percent had no female writers. That should sit well with absolutely no one, but it's by no means a bizarre fluke of a particular male-dominated year in film. Fortunately, the slate of upcoming fairytale films is a step in the right direction, behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
Of the nine projects on deck at Disney, five will star women. The projects are Cruella, with Emma Stone as the lead, A Wrinkle In Time, which will star a young female protagonist, a sequel to Mary Poppins with Emily Blunt as the flying nanny, a Tinker Bell project starring Reese Witherspoon, and a sequel to Maleficent. In addition to starring women, many of these films already have female directors and writers onboard to bring the story to life. Kelly Marcel will pen Cruella, while A Wrinkle In Time will be helmed by Selma director Ava DuVernay and written by Frozen screenwriter Jennifer Lee. Linda Woolverton, whose credits include The Lion King, will pen Maleficent 2. The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, another upcoming film, will be penned by new writer Ashleigh Powell, while Victoria Strouse, the writer of upcoming animated sequel Finding Dory, will write the Tinker Bell project.
It shouldn't be remarkable that women make up a sizable portion of the stars and creators of upcoming films, but given the current state of Hollywood, Disney absolutely deserves an applause. The original Disney flicks will always have a special place in our hearts, but these new movies are exactly what the world needs.