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Disney began its current run of live-action adaptations of the studio's animated classics with Maleficent, a film that focused on the iconic villain of Sleeping Beauty. A sequel has been promised for years, and now it looks like it may finally be getting rolling. While it's been a long time since we've heard anything about this project. It now appears that a new screenwriter, Jez Butterworth, who wrote the screenplay for Edge of Tomorrow and Spectre among others, is taking a stab at a rewrite.
Maleficent 2 was confirmed as being a thing that was happening over two years ago, but things have been mostly quiet since then. Linda Woolverton, who wrote the original Maleficent, wrote the first draft of the sequel script but The Tracking Board is now reporting that Jez Butterworth will be taking on the rewrite responsibilities.
Jez Butterworth is also handling the script for Cruella, Disney's other live-action movie based on an animated classic that will be focusing on the villain. That film will star Emma Stone and while it's in pre-production as well, it, like Maleficent 2, currently sits without a release date. It's possible that his work on the one script impressed Disney enough that he was asked to take a look at the other. It's also possible the studio just had his number on speed dial.
Last year we heard rumors that Angelina Jolie was looking to make a return to acting, and was looking at Maleficent 2 as one of the potential projects. Since then we haven't heard anything. The fact that Jez Butterworth has been brought on clearly means that the sequel is an active concern for Disney. The fact that the script is being worked on now could mean that Disney and Jolie have decided to move forward in the near future.
Disney has a handful of release dates over the next couple of years that have been earmarked for live-action fairy tale movies. Considering the success that the first movie had Disney would almost certainly love to plug Maleficent 2 into one of those spots.
Maleficent rewrote the book on Sleeping Beauty and created a story in which the title character was a fairy that had been wronged by the world of men. The events that we know as Disney's Sleeping Beauty were actually an act of vengeance that had been perverted by the humans who told the story. While the film wasn't without its issues, it can't be said that Maleficent didn't take risks. The storyline of the film is essentially a rape revenge story told by Disney, which is just as wild as that sounds.
If Maleficent 2 turns out to be half as crazy as the original it could be something special. It won't need to busy itself with the existing Sleeping Beauty tale, which is the only place where the first film really faltered. Stay tuned for news on Maleficent 2 as it looks like we may be hearing more in the near future.