Disney, never one to shy from striking while the iron is hot, appears to be revving up production on Maleficent, the story from the perspective of the wicked fairy godmother that casts a spell on Sleeping Beauty, and a key actor may play the villain. Angelina Jolie, who has been rumored to star in every film in pre-production, is reportedly interested in playing the antagonist according to the LA Times, and it would mark a change of pace from her action-oriented film roles of late. If Disney could land Jolie, it would mark a potential headliner that might see the repeat of the success of Tim Burton’s recent smash Alice in Wonderland. In fact, Burton was rumored to be eyeing the project not long ago, while Disney just tabbed Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King) to begin drafting the screenplay for the live-action project earlier this week.
For more detail on the project, including a further explanation of the Sleeping Beauty mythos and why Disney is so hot on retelling old stories from a different perspective, hit the jump.
The LA Times provides this explanation of the story of Maleficent:
“The wicked fairy godmother is the character who casts the original spell on Sleeping Beauty (a.k.a. Princess Aurora, quoth Wikipedia) that the young girl will prick herself on a splinter and die; Maleficent is an archrival of sorts to the good fairy godmother, who casts a counter-spell that says the girl will sleep for a century and then be awakened by the kiss of a prince. The original versions of the fairy tale don’t name Maleficent; the character was named and shaped by Disney for its 1959 film, and would of course be deepened and amplified for this one.”
With Jolie on the cusp of joining the project, Woolverton on board for the screenplay, Burton’s involvement is highly likely. Woolverton recently worked with Burton on Alice in Wonderland, though the reaction to that film has largely been very mixed. However, there is no denying the film made a ton of money and one can only imagine that this would bring in a hefty amount of money as well if marketed properly. The article also points out that Jolie could draw a key demographic to the live-action film: men.
How much interest she garners from the opposite sex is largely incumbent on the tone of the film, as her character is highly unlikely to be as sultry as she was in Wanted. Nevertheless, Jolie would give the film instant cache in terms of box office potential and one can only assume that Disney will make a push for her involvement.
Meanwhile, this would be yet another old property with a fresh coat of paint. This was recently done with the hit book and musical Wicked, in which the familiar story of the Wizard of Oz is told from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West. Disney also managed to capitalize on a different take with Alice, and are attempting to do the same with Rapunzel — I mean — Tangled. The name change was reported by the LA Times earlier this month to be a result of the efforts of Disney trying to remain marketable to the young boys they feel they missed out on in last year’s The Princess and the Frog. As misguided as that may be, this may be a key reason why Jolie might not be the only hot actress involved, both in looks and stock. Whatever happens with Maleficent, expect another gender-neutral name to appear and maybe they will surprise us and keep the film in 2D. Ah, who am I kidding?