Add The Hunchback of Notre Dame to the list of live-action remakes currently in the works at Disney. Deadline reports that the studio has assembled a team to create a new live-action adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel with Josh Gad onboard to produce. Gad is apparently not expected to star at this point, but that could obviously change depending on how this project develops.
Hunchback will be a musical, and the studio has tapped Disney stalwart Alan Menken and Broadway veteran Stephen Schwartz to write the music, both of whom wrote the songs and music for the 1996 Disney animated film. M. Butterfly playwright David Henry Hwang is writing the script, but no director is attached at this point. Schwartz’s credits include Wicked and Pippin, while Menken is responsible for the music of Disney classics like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame film remains a curious entry in Disney’s Second Golden Age. It was a passion project of then-Disney head Michael Eisner, and it served as the highly anticipated next project from Beauty and the Beast directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, who led that 1991 film to a prestigious Best Picture nomination. Trousdale and Wise’s take on Hunchback, however, was far darker than the other films Disney was releasing at the time, and indeed felt more like a drama than an animated fairy tale. Internally, the Disney executives were looking towards Hunchback as their next big prestigious project, so much so that the embrace of 1994’s The Lion King took many by surprise.
Hunchback didn’t reach the box office or critical heights that Disney was hoping for, and signaled a bit of a downturn after 1995’s Pocahontas was also a step down from The Lion King. While Disney would close out the decade with films beloved by kids like Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan, the days of generating Oscar buzz had come to a close (for the time-being), and Hunchback of Notre Dame was a wildly ambitious shot that kind of missed the mark.
Regardless, Eisner so loved the film that he commissioned as stage musical that ran in Berlin from 1999 to 2002. This new live-action update will not pull from that adaptation, and will instead be based on the animated film and Hugo’s novel.
This isn’t the only adaptation of Hunchback in the works. Idris Elba signed a deal with Netflix to star in, direct, and produce a modern retelling of the story with a heavy music bent, owing to Elba’s passion as a DJ. Let the battle of the Hunchback of Notre Dame adaptations begin!
For a full list of Disney’s upcoming live-action remakes, click here.