Say Hello to Angsty Belle as Stephen Chbosky is Now Writing the Live-Action ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Walt Disney Productions
If you were a teenager or adjacent to a teenager anytime since 1999, you are likely familiar with writer Stephen Chbosky and his tear-stained book found in the back of many a geometry classroom, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” It’s the epitome of teen angst, the coming-of-age story about an introverted boy named Charlie and the events that he goes through – some normally adolescent, some traumatic – during his freshman year of high school. You know, just a great time. The book was adapted into a film by Chbosky in 2012, so if you heard any wailing in the theater next door or saw some disheveled 15 year olds grasping each other by the concession stand, you know what’s up.
Now Chbosky (who also wrote Rent) is heading to Disney, where he’ll pen Bill Condon’s live-action Beauty and the Beast. Sure, it’s a tale as old as time, but in that moment, didn’t you swear that girl from the poor provincial town and the monster prince holding her captive in a mansion full of sentient objects were infinite? The studio’s new vision sees their 1991 Oscar-nominated animated classic directly adapted with music from the Broadway show added. Evan Spiliotopoulos, who penned the recent Hercules (the one with Dwayne Johnson) as well as a number of Disney direct-to-video animated movies, already wrote a draft of the remake, but it’s now up to Chbosky to complete a rewrite.
Though it’s not likely that Chbosky will be able to completely turn a beloved (and probably heavily protected) Disney tale into something of his own vision, I’m intrigued to see his voice pop through in the voices of iconic characters. After all, he’s most well-known for writing about a quiet teen who enjoys reading more than socializing with his peers. There’s a certain Disney princess who maybe has a song about how peculiar she is for keeping her nose stuck in a book and not saying bonjour as emphatically as she should in her little town full of little people.
Disney has figured out that their slate of animated-turned-live-action films (with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010, Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella hitting in 2015 and Jon Favreau currently working on The Jungle Book) is getting people excited, but it’s not just seeing their characters as real people causing the fuss; it’s seeing a twist on their favorite films. Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent were cut from the same cloth but it was that take on an old classic that kept audiences invested. Chbosky’s not exactly turning Beauty and the Beast into a terrifying monster tale, but maybe a little angst will do that castle some good.