Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall, who is attached to next go under the sea as director on Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid, says the re-imagining will flesh out the 1989 original animated film with new music.
“There are things I’ve learned about how you have to work to integrate songs into story, and how it has to feel earned. It can’t just be sort of put there, placed there, because you feel there should be a song,” Marshall told ComicBook.com.
“It has to be a song that’s earned, that takes you there. And so as we’re working on, in a way, fleshing out The Little Mermaid — Ariel has one song in the animated film — and so we’re looking for maybe more material.”
Marshall teams with his Mary Poppins star Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s Hamilton, Moana) and eight time Academy Award-winning composer and songwriter Alan Menken, who reprised his role as composer on Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and the upcoming Aladdin.
Menken won his first two Oscars for Best Original Song and Best Original Score for the 1989 animated film that starred Jodie Benson as the rebellious princess yearning to be part of the human world.
“Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda are coming on board to write some lyrics, so that’s exciting, to sort of take what was there, which is so beloved, but also find a way to create a live-action version of it,” Marshall said, adding “the lessons of creating an original musical have been very helpful so far.”
Menken previously re-teamed with Beauty and the Beast lyricist Tim Rice to compose new music for that film’s reboot, including “How Does a Moment Last Forever” and “Days in the Sun,” and collaborated with La La Land and The Greatest Showman duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul to craft new music for the Guy Ritchie-directed Aladdin, including a new anthem for Naomi Scott’s Princess Jasmine.
Actress and singer Zendaya, who starred in Disney Channel’s Shake It Up and K.C. Undercover before finding big screen success in the Marvel Studios-backed Spider-Man franchise and Greatest Showman, surfaced in August as the reported frontrunner for the starring role of Ariel. A Star Is Born headliner and recent Academy Award winner Lady Gaga was previously rumored to be eyed by Disney for the role of octopus-like sea witch Ursula.
Disney has yet to date The Little Mermaid. The studio next releases Tim Burton’s Dumbo March 29, ahead of Aladdin May 24 and Jon Favreau’s The Lion King July 19.
Mary Poppins Returns is available to own on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray March 19.
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