As we’ve seen over the last several years, Disney has made a regular habit of delving into its extensive catalog of animated movies and selecting various stories to be remade/re-imagined in live action, whether it’s for a traditional theatrical setting or the upcoming Disney+ streaming service. The latest Disney movie to earn such treatment in 1996’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and just like that animated movie and the stage production that followed, it will be a musical.
According to Deadline, Disney has tapped David Henry Hwang, the Tony-winning playwright of M. Butterfly, to write the live action Hunchback of Notre Dame movie, which is simply being called Hunchback. Longtime Disney composers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, both of whom worked on Disney’s original Hunchback of Notre Dame, will compose the music for this adaptation. Josh Gad is also producing Hunchback alongside Mandeville Films, and while there’s also talk of Gad possibly playing the lead role, casting hasn’t been nailed down yet.
Adapted from Victor Hugo’s same-named novel published in 1833, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame was among the successful movies that made up the Disney Renaissance era. Released on June 21, 1996, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was met with numerous positive reviews and made over $325 million worldwide. This version of the followed Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell-ringer of Notre Dame, wanting to find acceptance in 1482 French society and falling in love with the enchanting Esmeralda. As Disney is wont to do, it took plenty of creative liberties, such as having Quasimodo interact with a trio of sentient stone gargoyles. It was followed by a direct-to-video sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, in 2002.
Disney’s live action Hunchback of Notre Dame movie will pull from its animated predecessor and the Victor Hugo novel, but not the stage production that played in Europe. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see how this live action adaptation will be a straightforward remake, like 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, or if it will deviate from the previous story significantly, like 2014’s Maleficent. It should be noted that the animated Hunchback of Notre Dame is a particularly dark movie by Disney standards, so if David Henry Hwang wanted to, he could easily make the live action version a PG-13 affair. Of course, that would in turn result in fewer kids getting to see it in theaters, so Disney will surely want to stay in PG territory.
Whether or not Josh Gad ends up playing Quasimodo, this marks yet another Disney contribution on his resume. In the last decade, he’s voiced Olaf in the Frozen franchise, played LeFou in Beauty and the Beast and will appear as Mulch Diggums later this year in Artemis Fowl. As for when we can expect Hunchback, it’s not being fast-tracked, but with all this talent attached, one would imagine is stands a likelier chance of actually being made than not.
We here at CinemaBlend will keep you apprised of any major Hunchback updates that come in. For now, you can learn what other live action remakes/re-imaginings Disney has in the works by looking through our handy guide.