As even the most casual of movie fans know by now, Disney has grand designs for live-action adaption movies of several of its greatest animated hits, with Aladdin, The Lion King and Dumbo on the immediate docket. However, nestled comfortably on that same studio backlog is The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a huge hit for Disney with its 1996 animated classic, which even earned a Best Musical Score Oscar nomination.
The Disney movie project, which is being touted with the simplified title, Hunchback, is progressing steadily with the selection of a writer in David Henry Hwang, reports Deadline. Hwang, a veteran L.A.-born screenwriter/playwright, is coming off a television run on Showtime’s The Affair, along with movies Yellow Face and Bondage, as well as a prolific stage CV including Broadway plays in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, the revival of Flower Drum Song and even the stage show that adapted Disney’s animated Tarzan.
Interestingly, the project’s producer credits contain what could be (emphasis on “could be,”) the identity of its live-action Quasimodo. Josh Gad, who is listed as a producer for the project along with Mandeville Films, is reportedly in the running to star in the film as well. However, the report also cautions that word from studio insiders contradict the notion, with casting plans not yet solid. Yet, the prospect of Gad taking the lead role would make for a mouse house homecoming, since the actor is already a proven commodity for Disney, having voiced the role of snowman Olaf in the ubiquitous 2013 animated smash, Frozen (which he will reprise in the still-developing Frozen 2,) and played the live-action role of LeFou in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast.
Alan Menkin and Stephen Schwartz, the collaborative duo from the 1996 Disney Hunchback effort, will return to write the music for the live-action version. Besides that release, the duo’s musical lineage with Disney extends back to 1989’s The Little Mermaid, with subsequent work on 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, 1992’s Aladdin and 1995’s Pocahontas, along with several of the television series adaptations based on those features.
The prospect of a live-action adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame has long been the desire of Mandeville co-boss David Hoberman, who reportedly nursed plans for said project for 30 years, going back to when he was the president of Disney Films. Yet, with Disney’s own live-action plans in full effect, a report emerged last year that Netflix was eyeing its own modernized Hunchback live-action adaptation, starring Idris Elba. Plus, Warner Bros., as recently as last year, was circling its own Hunchback movie, and eyed Josh Brolin for the starring role. Whether those prospects will bear fruit remains to be seen.
We’ll keep you updated here on Disney’s Hunchback as the news arrives!