We first heard we could add Bambi to the list of Disney live-action movies in early 2020. The story of the little deer who lost his mama and made friends with the forest critters will get another chance at the big screen. And recently, the movie showed signs of new progress. According to Deadline, Oscar winner Sarah Polley is in talks to direct the latest Disney live-action film. The publication also notes that Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster wrote the latest version of the script. And additionally, the project would be a musical and would feature music by Kacey Musgraves.
The original Bambi was one of Walt Disney’s passion projects after the incredible success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But due to the outbreak of World War II in Europe, both Snow White follow-up films Bambi and Pinocchio lost money for the studio, with the entire European market now closed off to them. But nevertheless, Bambi garnered several Oscar nominations, and thanks to many re-releases and home video, became the classic we think of it as today.
Unlike later Disney animated films, Bambi is a relatively simple story. The actual original film is barely over an hour in length, coming in at just 70 minutes. So that means that this new version will have to have a very padded-out screenplay to make it closer to a traditional two-hour running time that most big movies have these days. I imagine we will see more of Bambi’s parents, and get way more screen time for scene-stealing characters like Thumper and Flower the skunk.
It could be that Bambi goes the same route as the recent Lady and the Tramp re-do, and the studio will release it straight to Disney+. Peter and Wendy, a live-action remake of Peter Pan, recently headed right to the streaming service. However, a live-action The Little Mermaid movie released in theaters.
Considering there are no humans seen in the original Bambi, this could wind up being another controversy similar to Disney’s remake of The Lion King, which was criticized for being an animated film posing as live-action. Unless we suddenly see the hunters who killed Bambi’s mom—who are largely off-screen characters anyway—I don’t see how this new iteration of Bambi will really be able to be considered “live-action.”
Regardless, the live-action remakes of classic animated Disney fare has been a major franchise for the studio, on par with Star Wars and Marvel. While they might run out of the original 2D animated classics to remake in the next few years, it’s only a matter of time before the Pixar films like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. get the treatment. And with all the money that The Nightmare Before Christmas rakes in via merchandise, that one has got to be on the docket as well. Personally, I can’t wait for Hercules‘ live-action movie. That one doesn’t get nearly enough love, and could be perfect given the right casting.
This new Bambi live-action movie is still in early development, but perhaps we will hear more about it soon.
Originally published on January 24, 2020.