Sam Mendes, Nick Hornby in talks to adapt live-action JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH for Disney

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I must admit, when we first started hearing the reports that Disney was starting to do live-action versions of their classic animated movies, I was a little skeptical. But boy, has the House of Mouse proven my skepticism wrong!  Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon have all been critical successes, and while the latter has sadly been a box office dud, despite how great it is, the others have all made tiny mountains of money – and in The Jungle Book‘s case, a huge mountain.

However, when it came to releasing live-action adaptations of other beloved stories, Disney has not had a great track record. In the case of Roald Dahl adaptations, it has gone 0-for-1, as the Steven Spielberg directed The BFG ended up being one of the biggest duds of the year. That is not dissuading Disney though – they currently have a slew of live-action remakes penciled onto their calendar, and now they’re adding one more, with another big name director at the helm.

Variety is reporting that Disney is currently in talks with Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall, Road To Perdition) to direct a live-action adaptation of James and The Giant Peach. And to add to the talent, two-time Oscar nominee and best-selling author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy, Brooklyn, Wild) has been tapped to pen the script for this new film.

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Originally published in 1961, “James and the Giant Peach” has the distinct honour of being Roald Dahl’s very first children’s book. It told of James Totter, a 7-year old orphan forced to live with his cruel aunts Spiker and Sponge near the cliffs of Dover. James is horribly mistreated by his aunts, so he gladly accepts some magical crocodile tongues from a mysterious man who promises they will bring him happiness. What they do bring him, through some crazy circumstances, is a giant peach filled with enlarged insects who become James friends and companion on a wacky globe-spanning adventure that stretches from England to the clouds to New York City and whole of places and characters in between.

Disney already adapted Dahl’s beloved book in 1996 in a stop-motion animation feature film directed by Henry Selick, and produced by Tim Burton. It would get an Oscar nomination for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score and won Best Animated Feature Film at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Unfortunately, it was a gigantic box office flop, not even making back its $38 million production budget. I’m guessing Disney are hoping to fix that up this time around.

Worth a mention is that the original story’s sometimes dark and macabre tone/events have often placed it in the firing line of censors, who don’t deem it safe reading material for kids. The Sellick/Burton film version made numerous changes to Dahl’s original story, so it will be interesting to see what Disney do with this new take on it.

There’s no casting or release date announcements yet for this new James and The Giant Peach, but Disney has time as they still need to get through all their other live-action adaptations which include the upcoming Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, a sequel to this year’s The Jungle Book101 Dalmations spinoff Cruella with Emma Stone, Maleficent 2, the Tim Burton directed Dumbo, Mulan, Winnie the Pooh, Pinocchio, Aladdin spinoff Genies, Night on Bald Mountain, the recently annnounced The Little Mermaid, King Arthur tale The Sword in the Stone, Peter Pan (not related to last year’s Pan), and a Tinkerbell spinoff starring Reese Witherspoon.

That’s a lot of movies.

Last Updated: August 29, 2016

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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