Beauty and the Beast is getting the live treatment at ABC to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the beloved animated classic’s history-making Academy Award nomination.
The Disney-backed broadcast network is making a two-hour, live-action/animated special that will feature a new cast and air Dec. 15 on the broadcast network. Jon M. Chu (In the Heights, Wicked) is onboard to executive produce the project, which will be directed by Hamish Hamilton. The latter is best known for helming awards shows including the Emmys and Grammys, as well as the Super Bowl halftime show, ABC’s The Little Mermaid Live and a pair of Disney’s quarantine-era sing-alongs. The special will be available to stream Dec. 16 on Disney+.
“Beauty and the Beast is a timeless story and we’re so fortunate to work with creative mastermind Jon M. Chu and veteran director Hamish Hamilton to bring a modern twist to this beloved classic for an unforgettable night of Disney magic,” said Craig Erwich, president, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “Stacked with unforgettable performances, this will be a must-see special event for fans of the original and for the new generation being introduced to this cherished tale.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of when 1991’s Beauty and the Beast became the first animated feature to earn an Academy Award nomination for best picture. It would go on to win Oscars for its score and original song.
The BATB special will feature never-before-seen musical performances, new sets and costumes inspired by the classic story. Each performance, ABC says, will pay homage to the original animated favorite while also adding to its iconic story. Songs from the original animated classic will be performed in front of a live audience at Disney Studios.
The new special follows news earlier this year that Disney+ was delaying its planned Beauty and the Beast prequel series starring Josh Gad and Luke Evans reprising their role from the 2017 live-action feature. The project, sources say, is not expected to move forward despite rumors to the contrary. Disney had already invested roughly $50 million into the production, which hailed from Once Upon a Time veterans Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and was to feature new music by EGOT-winner Alan Menken. Sources note Disney pointed to the series from Kitsis and Horowitz — two of Disney’s most important showrunners — as an example of the content it wanted to make for its streaming service.
“Beauty and the Beast was always a game-changing cinematic experience for me,” said Chu, who is also based at Disney with an overall deal. “When the animated movie came out, I watched it multiple times in the first weekend. It showed me the outer limits of what animated artists and storytellers could achieve, so the fact that I get to executive produce a tribute to all the creatives that made this masterpiece through our Electric Somewhere company is a dream I didn’t even think was possible. With world-class creatives and talent to reinterpret the classic musical numbers (with a few surprises), I can’t wait for the audiences, in person and at home, to experience what we have in store for them. It’s a true celebration of creativity.”
Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration is exec produced by Chu, Hamilton’s Done and Dusted Productions, Walt Disney Television Alternative, Caitlin Foito, Raj Kapoor, Richard Kraft and Katy Mullan. Kapoor was an executive producer (and showrunner) of the 64th annual Grammy Awards in April, where he worked alongside director Hamilton.
Chu is currently in pre-production on Universal’s feature adaptation of Wicked and developing Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot. The latter project marks his first animated feature.
This article first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.