Sunday, October 11, 2015


Once more for luck ... and hefty box office moolah.

... Disney is accelerating its prep for Cruella, a live-action version of the 101 Dalmations story with an emphasis on the puppy-hating villain, Cruella de Vil. ...

British screenwriter Kelly Marcel will write the film, scheduled for release some time between 2017 and 2019. (Yesterday, Disney announced its upcoming release schedule, planting several untitled films in that three-year window.)

Marcel’s resume would seem just about perfect for the project: Her first script was for the Walt Disney-flattering Saving Mr. Banks, about the making of Mary Poppins, while she also adapted Fifty Shades of Grey, which was critically reviled but put Marcel in the head of a kinky, sadistic billionaire — qualities that are bound to come into play with Cruella. ...

101 Dalmatians was the animated feature that followed the opulent, expensive Sleeping Beauty that had under-performed at the box office and triggered layoffs and restructuring inside the animation department of Walt Disney Productions.

Storyman Bill Peet adapted the Dodie Smith novel, cutting characters, streamlining plot, but retaining the core of the novel. The picture was the first Disney feature to use the Xerox system transferring animation drawing to acetate sheets, and production moved briskly along.

Two years after the release of Beauty, 101 Dalmations hit the nation's screens. The new picture ended up being a major hit, and the tenth highest grossing film release of the year. To date, after multiple releases, 101 Dalmations has earned north of $215 million (unadjusted for inflation).

Since that first release, there have been animated sequels, live-action sequels, TV series, video games and a plethora of toys. 101 Dalmatians has been a money-spinner for more than five decades, and given the company's recent success with live-action versions of old animated features, it's hardly a surprise that Diz Co. is going to build on (and profit from) that very lucrative franchise of spotted dogs yet again.


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