Dumbo (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tim Burton|
|Screenplay by||Ehren Kruger|
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Edited by||Chris Lebenzon|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios|
Dumbo is a 2019 American fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton, with a screenplay written by Ehren Kruger. It is inspired by Walt Disney's 1941 animated film of the same name, itself based on the novel by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl. The film stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, and Alan Arkin.
Plans of a live-action Dumbo remake were announced in 2014 and Burton was confirmed as director in March 2015. Much of the cast signed on in March 2017 and principal photography began in July of that year in the United Kingdom, lasting until November. It is one of several animated classics that Disney announced would be get live-action treatment in 2019, including Aladdin and The Lion King.
Circus owner Max Medici enlists Holt Farrier to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughing stock in an already struggling circus. But when Holt's children discover that Dumbo can fly, persuasive entrepreneur V. A. Vandevere and an aerial artist named Colette Marchant swoop in to make the peculiar pachyderm a star.
- Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier, a war veteran and former circus star from Kentucky who is hired by Medici to care for the newborn elephant.
- Michael Keaton as V. A. Vandevere, a ruthless and enigmatic entrepreneur who acquires a circus to exploit the titular elephant.
- Danny DeVito as Max Medici, the ringmaster and owner of a small, struggling circus that gets acquired by V. A. Vandevere.
- Eva Green as Colette Marchant, a French trapeze artist who performs at the circus.
- Alan Arkin as J. Griffin Remington, a Wall Street tycoon.
- Nico Parker as Milly Farrier, Holt's daughter.
- Finley Hobbins as Joe Farrier, Holt's son.
- Roshan Seth as Pramesh Singh, a snake charmer.
- DeObia Oparei as Rongo the Strongo
- Joseph Gatt as Neils Skellig
- Sharon Rooney as Miss Atlantis
- Michael Buffer as Baritone Bates, a Dreamland ringmaster.
- Frank Bourke as Puck
- Jo Osmond as Circus Cook
Development and writing
On July 8, 2014, it was announced that a live-action adaptation of Dumbo was in development for Walt Disney Pictures. Ehren Kruger was confirmed as the screenwriter, and Justin Springer will serve as the producer along with Kruger. On March 10, 2015, Tim Burton was announced as the director. On July 15, 2017, Disney announced Dumbo would be released on March 29, 2019. The film features a different storyline from the original film's, though as star Colin Farrel described, "[t]he one central thing that holds true in both the original animation, the original cartoon" is the film's the message of "believing in yourself and finding something inside you that allows you to become the best version of what you thought you could even be, and that we're all, regardless of the things that sometimes society says, should arrive us at being outcasts; they're the things that make us all individual, special, and beautiful regardless of how crippling a certain thing may be or how polarizing a certain physical attribute even may be". The film does not feature talking animals, focusing instead on the human characters. Kruger wrote the script as an story that "offered a way to tell that story in a framework that expanded it, but without redoing the original [film]", as well as a story that "was simple, with an emotional simplicity, and didn't interfere with what the basic through line of the original is about". Like the original film, Dumbo depicts the character as a symbol of someone who does not fit and turns his disabilities into an advantage.
In January 2017, it was announced that Will Smith was "in talks" to play the father of the children who develop a friendship with the lovable elephant after seeing him at the circus. However, Smith later passed on the role due to "scheduling conflicts" among other reasons. Smith went on to be cast as the Genie in Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin. Bill Hader, Chris Pine and Casey Affleck were also offered the role but passed on it before Colin Farrell was cast. Farrell, a fan of Burton, choose to work on the film because "[t]he idea of [acting in] something as sweet and fantastical and otherworldly, while being grounded in some recognizable world that we can relate to, under the direction of" Burton, was something he always wanted to do.
In March 2017, Eva Green and Danny DeVito, recurring collaborators of Burton's, joined the cast. In April 2017, Michael Keaton joined the cast, rounding out the few prominent "adult" live-action roles. Tom Hanks was reportedly in discussions for the role before Keaton was cast. During the summer of 2017, DeObia Oparei, Joseph Gatt, and Alan Arkin joined the film. DeVito said that "[he loves] Tim and [he] would do anything to be in a movie with him". DeVito said that Burton is "[a]lways spirited, always an artist, always thinking about the craft, always painting with his mind" and that he felt like "part of some kind of palette, a color scheme" while filming the movie
Principal production had begun by July 2017, in the United Kingdom. Two elephant props were used during filming "to give [the production team] an idea of his size and his shape in the scene; an idea of the lighting, and that kind of thing; where he's going to be for camera". Creature performer Edd Osmond used a green suit to represent the character while filming certain scenes, as well as an "interactive reference" for scenes that required the actors to be in contact with the character, and as a guide for Burton to use, with Burton later providing information of his performance to the animation team. Unlike most remakes of Disney's animated films, Dumbo mostly used practical sets during filming. Most of the filming was done at Pinewood Studios and Cardington Airfield in the UK.
Production designer Rick Heinrichs designed the film's scenes in a way that represents both the film's story and the period it is set, stating that the film's story "provided a very specific period, but at the same time, having worked with Tim many times in the past, [he knows] that [Burton is] a little less interested in giving a history lesson as he is in the emotional story being told". Both the "Dreamland" and circus scenes were designed differently in order to showcase their contrasts. The production design crew were heavily influenced by the works of Edward Hooper, with Heinrichs stating that the team tried to create something similar to "[Hooper]'s reductive process of looking at environments and reducing it to its essence". Heinrichs also said that the production design team had "to push the reality—the live action—a bit into the storybook world. [They] certainly make the baby elephant look believable, but [they] also stylized our world, pushing it into an expressive directioon with all of the lighting, costumes, props and environments". Burton filmed the remake in soundstages, stating that "[f]or this kind of movie, shooting all indoors obviously helps with weather concerns and all those things. It's one movie where [they are] not sitting around, talking about the weather all day long". The production team also created a full-scale version of the toy train "Casey Jr." from the original film, througth it was visually redesigned in order to reflect the circus' state.
The visual effects were provided by Moving Picture Company, Framestore and Rise FX, supervised by Patrick Ledda, Richard Hoover, Jonathan Weber, Richard Stammers and produced by Hal Couzens with the help of Rising Sun Pictures and Rodeo FX. Title designer Matt Curtis made the opening titles for Dumbo, marking his first collaboration with Disney since Around the World in 80 Days.
On October 4, 2017, Danny Elfman was revealed to be composing the film's score. Elfman said that "[he and the production team] knew [they] would have to find a musical identity for Dumbo that was purely Dumbo". Elfman developed the film's main theme as "a very simple theme" as Burton "feels it's a simple story". Elfman also wrote background music for the film's scenes in the circus, as well as themes based on the characters' experiences. He also wrote a theme for Medici and Vandevere which he described as "a bit of a wicked thing". The score plays homage to Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace's score from the original film.
Norwegian singer Aurora performed a cover of the original film's song "Baby Mine" for the remake's trailer, though it won't be featured in the actual film. Sharon Rooney will perform the song in the film. Additionally, Arcade Fire will perform an end-credits version of "Baby Mine" for the film, which was released as a single in March 11, 2019. Instrumental versions of the songs "Casey Junior", "When I See an Elephant Fly", and "Pink Elephants on Parade" from the original version are also featured in the film. The soundtrack, featuring Elfman's score and Arcade Fire's version of "Baby Mine", will be digitally released on March 29, 2019, and will be physically released on April 5, 2019.
Dumbo is scheduled to be released in the United States in 2D and 3D by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on March 29, 2019. It held its world premiere at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Los Angeles on March 11, 2019. The European premiere was held at the Curzon Mayfair Cinema in London on March 21, 2019. It will be released in Real D 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D and Dolby Cinema.
In the United States and Canada, Dumbo is projected to gross $58–75 million in its opening weekend.
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