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[dropcap]D[/dropcap]isney has announced plans to produce a live action version of their classic hit Beauty and the Beast. The project has been titled The Beast, and Joe Ahearne (who co-wrote the upcoming film Trance, directed by Danny Boyle) has been drafted to write the script.

So, the cinematic world clearly hasn’t quite got over its nasty case of obsessive compulsive fairy-tale reboot disorder. We all thought the fever had broken with last year’s release of the stunningly pretty yet emotionally hollow Snow White and the Huntsman, but this turned out to be a false dawn. We were bamboozled into thinking that the giant swathe of enchanted forest mapped out by Rupert Sanders and pals might have squeezed all the remaining fairy dust out of Hollywood for some time to come – but we didn’t reckon with Disney. Disney have been stockpiling jars of the stuff in a basement in Florida since the early fifties, and not content with sprinkling glittery new life into the Star Wars franchise, it now seems that Beauty and the Beast has also joined the queue.

It doesn’t matter a jot to Disney that Guillermo del Toro is planning to bring his whimsically horrifying directing style to his own version of the story (starring Emma Watson, no less), and will in all likelihood turn out a much better end result than they will. A certain tale as old as time released in 1991 means that Disney will forever have their neon rainbow claws sunk deep into this classic children’s yarn, and considering the still escalating popularity of the live-action fairy tale film, they’d be fools not milk it for as long as they can.

Aside from Beauty and the Beast, Disney also has plans for live action versions of Cinderella and possibly even The Little Mermaid, which recently had its 3D re-release cancelled due to dwindling revenue from earlier ventures into the third dimension. Frozen (an animated version of The Snow Queen) is also on the cards from Disney, and plenty of other production companies are jumping back on the Tinkerbell bandwagon (if they ever jumped off it in the first place).

In the near future we can expect Maleficent, the story of the evil witch from Sleeping Beauty (starring Angelina Jolie as Maleficent), and probably at least one new version of Peter Pan. Jack the Giant Slayer may be tanking at the box office right now, but it seems like the studio execs know something we don’t. They’re shovelling all their money into the offshore bank of Never Never Land, but only time (and the box office) will tell if it will pay off.

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