Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most beloved animated films, which is a large part of why it's seeing a live-action remake. However, as much as people love the original and Oscar-winning animated version, there's a lot people don't know about what went into making it. Animated films often have much longer periods of pre-production than live-action films, meaning that the film that gets produced is often very different than the initial concepts. Beauty and the Beast was no exception to this rule.
As we get ready to see Emma Watson and company bring the animated film to life on the big screen, let's take a look at some of the more interesting things about the original film that's being adapted. How many of these did you know?
They Borrowed Some Animation From Sleeping Beauty
The dance scene that everybody thinks about in Beauty and the Beast is the big scene with Angela Lansbury singing the title tune. However, the two dance again at the end of the movie after the curse has been broken. Maybe the animation team was in a hurry, or maybe it was an intentional easter egg, but the dance sequence that happens then is taken directly from the dance between Aurora and Prince Philip at the end of Sleeping Beauty.
The Title Song Was Almost Very Different
Can you even imagine the song "Beauty and the Beast" without Angela Lansbury? It very nearly happened, for multiple reasons. First off, en route to record the song, the actress's plane was forced down due to a bomb threat, causing delays. When she finally arrived, there wasn't much time left to record. Lansbury also said she wasn't sure she was right for the song, the original version was a bit more of a "rock song." She was asked to give it a shot her way. She did a single take and that take is pretty much what's in the movie.
Walt Disney Tried To Make The Film Much Earlier
As early as the 1930s, Walt Disney considered making an animated version of Beauty and the Beast. There are a couple of different stories as to why the movie never happened earlier. A French live-action version of the movie was made in 1946 which may have soured Walt on the idea. In addition, it was said that the writers simply couldn't find the right way to adapt the story. All of this was very similar to Disney's attempts to produce a version of The Snow Queen, an idea which didn't pan out until Frozen was produced. Interestingly, when they finally did get to making the 1991 film, that old French movie inspired the Beast's look in many ways.
A Song Written For The Film Wasn't Used In It For Over 10 Years
Not every song that musical team Howard Ashman and Alan Menken initially wrote for the film made it into the final version. One song, called "Human Again," was written, but ended up not being used. It found new life in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast and was so popular, that when the original film was re-released for IMAX viewing, a new scene was animated and the original voice cast was brought back to perform the song. The new sequence has been included in DVD releases ever since.
Jackie Chan Voiced The Beast (In Chinese)
Jackie Chan in the 1990s was all about over the top martial arts movies in China. In 1991, he had yet to make his mark in Hollywood. However, the actor did get involved with one major western studio prior to the release of Rumble in the Bronx. He provided the voice of the Beast in the Mandarin language dub of the film. He even sings the title track! It wasn't the only time he voiced a Disney character either. He also provided the voice of Li Shang in the Mandarin and Cantonese versions of Mulan.
Pixar Was Involved In The Production
While Beauty and the Beast predated Toy Story by four years, the company was still involved in animated filmmaking prior to that. Pixar developed a piece of software called the Computer Animation Production System designed to aid in 2D animation. The system was first used at the tail end of The Little Mermaid. Beauty and the Beast was the first major Disney release to use it from the beginning because apparently, Disney doesn't really consider The Rescuers Down Under to be a major release.
The Film Made Oscar History, Twice
You probably knew that Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture. If not, now you do. However, the less obvious Oscar record it set was the number of nominations it received in the Best Original Song category. Three of its songs were nominated for the award, the first time that had happened. The title track beat out both "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" to take the award. The feat of getting three songs nominated would be matched by two other Disney films, The Lion King and Enchanted, as well as Dreamgirls. It will never be matched by another, however. Current Oscar rules limit the number of nominations per film to two.