Disney has set a 2017 theatrical release date for their live-action version of Beauty and the Beast.
The studio had slotted Beauty and the Beast to hit theaters on March 17, 2017, according to Variety, who reported the news today. The film is the first one set for that day so far, with Lionsgate’s The Allegiant Series, Part 2 opening a week later.
The film will see Emma Watson (Harry Potter) as Belle; Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as Beast; Luke Evans (The Hobbit, Dracula Untold) as the brutish Gaston; and Josh Gad (who voices the snowman Olaf in Disney’s animated hit Frozen) as Lefou, Gaston’s sidekick.
The live-action version will be directed by Bill Condon, the Academy Award winning writer and director of Gods and Monsters, Kinsey, and the film adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls. He also wrot the screenplay for another hit film adaptation of a stage musical, Chicago, and directed both parts of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, as well as The Fifth Estate and Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh.
The screenplay was written by Evan Spiliotopoulos, who has worked on a collection of Disney sequels such as The Jungle Book 2, The Lion King 1 1/2, Tarzan II, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning before moving into live-action features like Hercules and the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel. A rewrite was penned by Steve Chbosky who wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower and created, wrote, and executive produced Jericho.
The new Beauty and the Beast will include new recordings of original songs from the 1991 animated version, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature. Original composer Alan Menken, who snagged two Oscars for the 1991 who his work on the animated feature, will score the new film, also include two new songs he’s writing along with Tim Rice.
Production on Beauty and the Beast, which will be Disney’s second live-action adaptation after this year’s Cinderella, will begin later this year.