Why Will Smith Has Passed On Disney's Live-Action Dumbo

Will Smith

Disney has been having a lot of success lately with live action remakes of their classic animated movies (in 2016 it was The Jungle Book and Pete's Dragon), and there are a lot more on the way in the coming years. Some of them make sense right away, like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Mulan. Others are reaching a little more to make it work, and Dumbo finds itself in that latter category. One of the ways the live action Dumbo will distinguish itself from the animated version is by directly featuring humans, and last month, it was reported that Disney wanted Will Smith to lead the flick, but the actor has now decided to pass on the project due to various issues.

Although Will Smith and Disney spent a fair amount of time in negotiation, Deadline reports that those discussions have broken off for two main reasons: salary and scheduling, Regarding the latter, Smith is moving next to Bad Boys for Life, where he'll finally re-team with Martin Lawrence. While there were a lot of jokes online about how Smith was being sought to voice Dumbo in the re-telling, he actually would have played the father of some children who befriend the adorable elephant. There's no word yet on who Disney is now seeking for that role, but the studio reportedly wants to start production soon.

Aside from voicing Oscar in 2004's Shark Tale, Will Smith doesn't have a lot of experience with family-friendly movies. Most of his projects have been firmly in PG-13 territory, with the occasional detour into something rated R. Dumbo would have been a good opportunity for him to get some exposure with younger moviegoers who haven't had the opportunity to see Men in Black or Fresh Prince of Bel-Air yet, but alas, monetary dispute and scheduling conflict got in the way. Regardless, Smith has enough to keep himself busy. Along with the third Bad Boys movie, he has Netflix's Bright coming up, and Suicide Squad 2 is also in development.

Like the original Dumbo movie, the re-telling will focus on a young circus elephant whose ears are so big that he can fly. Other than Will Smith's now non-involvement, the only actor who's been connected to the movie is Tom Hanks, who is being eyed to play the villain. However, he hasn't been confirmed to jump on board yet.

Written by Ehren Kruger and directed by Tim Burton, the live action Dumbo movie doesn't have a release date yet, but we'll keep you updated on how it's coming along as more news arrives. In the meantime, Disney's next live action remake is Beauty and the Beast, which will be released on March 17.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.