Will Smith is making yet another curious career choice. The actor is coming off of starring as Deadshot in the DC film Suicide Squad and leading the saccharine, critically maligned Collateral Beauty, and now he’s got his eye on Dumbo of all things. Variety reports that Smith is circling the Disney live-action adaptation, which has Tim Burton attached to direct from a script by Transformers: Age of Extinction scribe Ehren Kruger. Burton has been attached to direct the film for a few years now, but with Disney’s live-action slate off and running with a string of successes that include Cinderella and The Jungle Book, the Mouse House is now moving “aggressively” towards a start-date on Dumbo.
Scheduling difficulties could ultimately prevent Smith from officially signing on, but the prospect is there. He’s currently gearing up to begin production on the sequel Bad Boys for Life, for which he’ll reteam with Martin Lawrence for director Joe Carnahan. That film is getting a script polish at the moment to get everything tailored to everyone’s liking, but Variety notes that Dumbo and Bad Boys 3 would shoot at the same time, so if Smith chooses Dumbo then the Bad Boys sequel could be pushed back “or shelved entirely.” That would certainly be a surprising development, but movement on the Bad Boys follow-up has been rather slow-going, with Smith and Lawrence apprehensive to make the sequel unless it’s just right, so if Smith loses interest that would be that.
Smith would take on the role of a father whose children fall in love with the titular elephant at the circus. Variety notes that Tom Hanks has also been approached for a villain role, but the Sully actor may instead decide to star in the World War II drama Greyhound.
Smith is currently filming Bright, a sci-fi cop movie that reteams Smith with Suicide Squad director David Ayer. The project is a Netflix original, and Smith has also made clear that he’s keen on reprising his Deadshot role in a future DCEU film—though Suicide Squad 2 may be further away than expected as Ayer recently signed on to helm the Margot Robbie-fronted Gotham City Sirens.
Dumbo is one of a bounty of live-action films Disney is developing, with Beauty and the Beast next on the docket for release in March, followed by Mulan in November 2018—although that film doesn’t yet have a director or cast. The studio also has The Lion King heating up with director Jon Favreau and Aladdin coming via director Guy Ritchie.
They’ve certainly got a proven track record so far, but something about Dumbo and those currently involved with the project doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. Let’s hope we’re pleasantly surprised.