Disney’s Chief of Live Action Film Studio sat down to talk about Mary Poppins, the Jungle Cruise, and how the Lion King will be HUGE! Sean Bailey, chief architect of Disney’s live-action film studio sat down with the Hollywood Reporter to discuss life and the future of Disney films. He has been at the forefront of some of the biggest hits since 2010, including box office behemoths The Jungle Book (2016) and Beauty and the Beast (2017).
Mary Poppins Returns (bowing Dec. 19) is the next movie marking Bailey’s biggest challenge since taking the top job in 2010. (He worked as a writer-producer for Disney’s film studio and ABC from 2004 to 2008 and had gotten to know top Disney execs after teaming with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to launch LivePlanet, which had a deal with then-Disney-owned Miramax.)
Take a look at the highlights from the interview here:
The Lion King trailer suggests it is a shot-for-shot remake. True?
“The Lion King is a revered and beloved movie, so you’d better revere and love those parts that the audience wants. But there are things in the movie that are going to be new. [And] it is a new form of filmmaking. Historical definitions don’t work. It uses some techniques that would traditionally be called animation, and other techniques that would traditionally be called live action. It is an evolution of the technology Jon used in Jungle Book.
You are almost done remaking the A-list classic animated movies. How deep into the library will Disney go?
“I don’t know, because we might hear something that excites us. Take Maleficent. She was a character who cursed a baby because she didn’t get an invitation to a party, and we thought, “This is interesting.” We made a movie, and now we are making another movie. We will continue to play around in ways that I hope are interesting and unexpected.”
What is your live-action strategy otherwise?
“There are projects like [2020’s] Jungle Cruise. We tip our hat to the [Disneyland] ride in a couple of places, but it’s a wholly invented new story and a hoped-for series of movies. We’re making Artemis Fowl with Ken Branagh, which is obviously a book series but hasn’t been on the screen. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is something we’re excited about.”
Why has Disney had trouble launching original hits?
“I think of “original” in an interesting way. One pretty esteemed filmmaker we work with said using IP is a better art of war. You take the high ground, rather than fight up the hill. And we’re making original movies for our streaming service. We wrapped Stargirl, directed by Julia Hart, last week in New Mexico. We’re shooting Togo, based on real-life events about a dog and an incredible rescue in Alaska. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) is showing us his movie in the coming weeks called Timmy Failure, which is, again, from a book series. None of these are Disney canon or have ever been on the screen before.”
You’ve hired Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to work on a possible Pirates of the Caribbean reboot. Can Pirates survive without Johnny Depp?
“We want to bring in a new energy and vitality. I love the [Pirates] movies, but part of the reason Paul and Rhett are so interesting is that we want to give it a kick in the pants. And that’s what I’ve tasked them with.”
Disney is home to the biggest brands in movies: Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Pixar. How do you find your own way?
“Just as Marvel has Iron Man and Thor and Captain America, maybe Belle and Cinderella and Mowgli and Simba are our superheroes. But we’re not going to interconnect them in a universe anytime soon, I promise. Simba isn’t in Jungle Cruise. (Laughs.)”
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Images: Sally Peterson