Disney has found a new cash cow in turning their classic animated films into live action features. Each one has been more successful than the last, with The Jungle Book breaking all sorts of records. However, one thing that none of these films have done is fully embraced their classic Disney history and gone full musical. That will change next year with Beauty and the Beast and star Josh Gad says that’s how it had to be. The fans weren't going to stand for anything else.
Beauty and the Beast is by far one of Disney’s most popular animated films. It stands as the first animated feature to receive an Academy Award nomination for best picture. It also, at less than 30 years old, is the most recent movie to get the live action treatment. Josh Gad will be playing the role of LeFou in Beauty and the Beast and I had a chance to talk to him about the movie. When I asked him about why the decision was made to make his movie a musical, unlike its predecessors, Gad said that ultimately, it was necessary because much of the music is better known, and fans would want to hear it.
Cinderella is an exceptional animated movie, but the songs, other than like ‘Bippity Boppity Boo,’ and the song that Cinderella herself sings, because it came out so long ago, people don’t have the same familiarity with that. Jungle Book, a little bit closer to resonance, and so I think that they layered some of those songs in there. Beauty and the Beast, you’d better damn well believe that people know those songs. They expect to hear those songs, and they have dreamed of seeing those songs come to life. I know I have for 20+ years. So, I think it’s the burden of expectation is there, that the music will be a part of it.
Disney fans who saw Beauty and the Beast as children are now adults with their own children, Josh Gad among them. We likely all remember Lumiere leading the dining room in a rousing rendition of "Be Our Guest." If you’re not currently wondering what a live action version of that sequence led by Ewan McGregor is going to look like, then you are utterly without curiosity and there’s no help for you.
While it was nice hearing some of the music that was included in The Jungle Book, some of it felt a bit forced. That won’t be the case for Beauty and the Beast as it was planned from the ground up as a musical. Josh Gad also told me that he believes the musical numbers will be something special when audiences finally see them.
I think that [what] the creative team has so brilliantly done is they’ve embraced it so fully that the scale and scope of those numbers is unlike anything modern Hollywood really gets a chance to do anymore. You’re going to see songs come to life in Technicolor magic, in a way that I think like big studio films, once upon a time, used to do, but have sort of not done for a long period of time and I think it’s going to be really amazing thing for audiences to see again.
Josh Gad makes Beauty and the Beast sound as much like a classic Hollywood musical as it does a Disney movie. We’re certainly excited to see what happens when it hits the screen in March of 2017.