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'Dumbo', 'Aladdin,' 'The Lion King' and more: see which Disney films are making a live-action comeback

The live-action "Aladdin" costarring Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott

The live-action "Aladdin" costarring Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Will Smith opens in theatres on May 24. Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Following recent live-action adaptations of beloved animated movies like "Cinderella" (2015), “The Jungle Book” (2016) and “Beauty and the Beast" (2017), Disney plans to continue churning out the remakes. A new "Dumbo" hit theaters in March, and next up for real-people reboots are “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” See the release dates for these films and other Disney classics set to make a comeback or, in some cases, bring a new take altogether.

1. "Dumbo": March 29

One of Disney’s oldest animated films (1941), about the once-outcasted baby elephant who becomes the circus' main event, hit the big screen as live-action this spring. This remake packs an A-list cast (Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Alan Arkin, Eva Green) and crew, as Tim Burton brings his distinctively artful, ghoulish touch as director.

2. "Aladdin": May 24

Agrabah is going to look like "A Whole New World" when Aladdin embarks on his magic carpet ride in this long-awaited live-action adaptation. Mena Massoud (from Amazon's "Jack Ryan" series) will star as Aladdin, with Will Smith granting him three wishes as Genie, and Naomi Scott (of 2017's "Power Rangers" movie) as princess Jasmine. Guy Ritchie (“Sherlock Holmes," "RocknRolla") directs, and co-wrote the screenplay.

3. "The Lion King": July 19

This one just might be the most highly-anticipated of all Disney's slated remakes. A dynamic cast is lined up for the live-action version of the Oscar-winning 1994 animated adventure: James Earl Jones, who is returning to voice Mufasa; Beyoncé as Nala; Donald Glover as Simba; and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as duo Timon and Pumbaa, respectively. Jon Favreau (“Jungle Book,” "Iron Man") directs.

4. "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil": October 18

“Maleficent” (2014), Disney's live-action spin-off of its 1959 animated tale “Sleeping Beauty,” delved into the backstory of the vengeful titular fairy who cursed Princess Aurora. Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, who played Maleficent and Aurora, respectively, in that film will return to star in the sequel where their complex relationship will be further explored, with Michelle Pfeiffer joining the cast as Queen Ingrith. Joachim Rønning (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”) directs.

5. "Mulan": March 27, 2020

This legendary figure from ancient Chinese folklore first got the Disney treatment in 1998, with a live-action remake later scheduled for release in 2018 before being pushed to 2020. Popular Chinese actress Liu Yifei (also known as Crystal Liu) beat nearly 1,000 other candidates in a casting search that spanned five continents, according to The Hollywood Reporter, to score the lead role of Mulan, a young girl who disguises herself as a male warrior to take her father’s place in the Chinese army. Li Shang, Mulan’s love interest in the animated film, will reportedly be replaced by a new character named Chen Honghui, who will be played by Yoson An, a rising star from New Zealand who is of Chinese descent. Other actors in the primarily Chinese cast include Jet Li, Gong Li and Donnie Yen. Niki Caro (“Whale Rider," "The Zookeeper's Wife") directs. 

6. "Lilo & Stitch": TBA

Disney’s 2002 movie about the familial bond between a lonely young girl (Lilo) and a wide-eyed blue alien (Stitch), is set for a live-action/CGI revival, The Hollywood Reporter announced in October 2018. Screenwriter Mike Van Waes seemingly confirmed the report on Instagram, posting a snapshot of what appears to be the title page of film’s script, with the caption “Real but surreal." The producers of 2019's live-action "Aladdin" are also on board, according to THR.

7. "Lady and the Tramp": TBA

Get your spaghetti and meatballs ready because this 1955 classic love story about a well-bred cocker spaniel (Lady) and a street mongrel (Tramp), is also getting a live-action/CGI remake. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news about this one, too, in March 2018, reporting that “LEGO Ninjago Movie” director Charlie Bean is on hand for this reboot, which will premiere on Disney’s upcoming digital streaming service, Disney+. (The streaming service is expected to launch in late 2019.) Casting for the adaptation reportedly includes Tessa Thompson ("Thor: Ragnarok" and the upcoming "Men In Black" spinoff) and Justin Theroux who will play the titular characters, as well as Janelle Monae, Kiersey Clemons, Thomas Mann and Ashley Jensen.

8. "Cruella": TBA

Cruella de Vil, the villainess of Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” is getting her day in the sun in this upcoming live-action film. Emma Stone will star as the titular character, according to the Hollywood Reporter, with a script to be written by Kelly Marcel (“Venom," “Fifty Shades of Grey”). Craig Gillespie, who directed the 2017 Oscar-winning Tonya Harding biopic, “I, Tonya,” was reported to be in talks to direct. The 1961 animated classic “101 Dalmatians” already got a live-action remake in 1996, with Glenn Close as Cruella.

9. "The Little Mermaid": TBA

Finally, Ariel is really going to be "Part of Your World" when she gets her legs in an upcoming live-action film. Alan Menken -- the Oscar-winning composer behind the songs of many of Disney’s most popular animated films including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Pocahontas,” “Aladdin” and the original 1989 "Little Mermaid" -- will work with Lin-Manuel Miranda on songs for the remake, Menken announced during Disney’s D23 Expo fan club event in 2017. Miranda who is the playwright, composer and lyricist of Broadway’s hit musical “Hamilton,” is not by any means a Disney newcomer. He starred in the 2018 Mary Poppins sequel “Mary Poppins Returns” alongside Emily Blunt and was a songwriter for Disney’s animated film “Moana.” Rob Marshall who directed Disney films including “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Into the Woods” and most recently the Mary Poppins sequel, is directing the film. Marshall told Collider during an interview last December that he was just beginning to explore the project. “It’s a very complicated challenge,” he said of turning an underwater musical into live action.

10. "Hunchback": TBA

A live-action retelling of the story of deformed Parisian bell-ringer Quasimodo who shies away from the public will pull from both Disney's 1996 animated movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and Victor Hugo's 19th century novel, according to Deadline Hollywood. Composers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, who were nominated for an Oscar for their work on the 1996 movie, will return for "Hunchback," with a script by Tony-winning playwright/screenwriter David Henry Hwang ("M. Butterfly," “The Affair”). Actor Josh Gad ("Frozen," 2017's live-action "Beauty and the Beast") is set to produce. A director has not yet been announced.

11. "Tink": TBA

Along the lines of “Maleficent" (and, apparently, "Cruella"), this live-action remake will explore the origin story of Tinker Bell from "Peter Pan," the J.M. Barrie story that Disney animated in 1953. Reese Witherspoon is set to play the titular character, with a script by “Finding Dory” screenwriter Victoria Strouse, The Hollywood Reporter revealed in 2015. Other details about the project has not yet been released.

12. "Jungle Book 2": TBA

This sequel was reportedly already in the works before the 2016 live-action/CGI hybrid film was set to premiere. Details are sparse on this one, but director Jon Favreau and screenwriter Justin Mark are set to return for the sequel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It has not yet been announced whether the cast of the 2016 movie, which included the voices of Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Lupita Nyong'o (Raksha) and Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), will return.

13. "Snow White": TBA

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is the oldest of them all -- animated Disney movies, that is. The 1937 movie is set to return for a musical live-action adaptation with music by the “La La Land” and “The Greatest Showman” songwriters, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, their website confirmed. (The duo also wrote songs for the upcoming live-action “Aladdin.”) Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson, who adapted “The Girl on the Train” novel for the big screen in 2016, was in talks to pen the script, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A director has not yet been announced.

14. "Pinocchio": TBA

Pinocchio will finally become a real boy, according to reports. The story of woodworker Gepetto and his beloved puppet, which first came to the big screen as Disney’s second-oldest animated film (1940) and is based on Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel, is on Disney’s roster of upcoming live-action films. “Paddington” filmmaker Paul King is set to direct, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which also reported in November 2018 that Tom Hanks was in talks to play Geppetto. (A competing, yet darker and not family-friendly "Pinocchio" project is in the works for Netflix, by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.)

15. "The Sword in the Stone": TBA

Released in 1963, this animated tale based on T.H White's novel was the last Disney movie released before the death of Walt Disney himself. The film follows a young King Arthur as he is mentored by Merlin the wizard. “Game of Thrones” writer-producer Bryan Cogman has written the script for a live-action adaptation, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and will be directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“28 Weeks Later”) and produced by “The Jungle Book” producer Brigham Taylor.

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