Behind the Scenes of Disney’s Cinderella
Disney’s upcoming Cinderella retelling of the 1950 classic was pitched as a “fresh and modern” version of the classic animated musical that most of us grew up with. Now, rest assured that “modern” in this case doesn’t mean set in present day, but it’s a revival of sorts that freshens the series and presents it in a live action format for the modern generation to fall in love with the story all over again.
The film was originally announced in May of 2010, and set for early development in February of 2012. After the success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Disney set the wheels in motion for Disney live action retellings of classic stories. Maleficent (2014), Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2015), and Beauty and the Beast were all set to piggyback on the success of the Alice in Wonderland retelling and bring classic stories to life for a new generation of moviegoers.
Screenwriter Chris Weitz (About a Boy) set to work on adapting the script and followed the original storyline closely, with only minor changes. The Fairy Godmother plays a much larger role in the film, and “Ella” (Cinderella) meets the prince before that fateful night at the ball, only he introduces himself as a palace employee.
After the initial planning, director Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go) exited the project, which left Disney with some scrambling in order to stay on target for a 2015 release. Disney ultimately decided on Academy Award-nominee Kenneth Branagh (Thor) to replace Romanek, and moved on to pre-production in July of 2013.
Casting was another major hurdle and it was rumored that Emma Watson was set to play the iconic Disney princess before she ultimately declined the role (she later was cast as Belle in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast.) This left Branagh with some decisions to make and he ultimately decided to go with a young group full of up and comers, as well as industry veterans Cate Blanchett (as the wicked stepmother) and Helena Bonham Carter (as the fairy godmother). The leading roles were ultimately filled by Lily James (“Downton Abbey”) and Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”).
With the director and cast in place, production began in September 2013, with principal photography set to take place in the United Kingdom. The filming took place almost entirely at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England, the same place where two other Disney films – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Maleficent – were shot. Other locations used were Blenheim Palace, Windsor Castle, Old Royal Navy College and Black Park.
Principal photography spanned 8 months (from September 2013 to May 2014) and then the post-production phase took over. Shortly after the post-production process began, we received our first trailer of the film, a short 80-second teaser direct from Disney. The film was officially complete in August of 2014 and set for a March 2015 release date with trailers for the film being attached to screenings of Maleficent.
The film opens nationwide on March 13, 2015.