Film Surf Report: Disney Fables Are Still A Man’s World Even When It’s A Girl’s


Santa Monica, CA — Disney has a curious problem with its Princesses:  Their stories are being told from a man’s POV.

Tale as old as Time: Fairy Tale about a young girl is adapted for the big screen by male screenwriter and male director because, if anyone knows about what it’s like to be a young girl, it’s Men.  Am I right, ladies?

Hold up. 

Of course, there’s more to Disney’s latest box office hit: The live-action version of Beauty & the Beast which hit theatres March 17th and stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Luke Evans.

There’s singing, dancing, and danger! Women know nothing of these things.  There’s no way that someone like Barbra Streisand could have directed this film.

I am half-joking, but only to prove a point.

Disney hired Bill Condon (Twilight: Breaking Dawn; Chicago) to direct from a script by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which starred Watson).  Condon is a terrific filmmaker. Chbosky is a wonderful writer. Their version of Beauty & the Beast should be outstanding.

Will audiences embrace this new take on the beloved Disney classic (which itself is an adaptation of many iterations of similar stories)?

Greek Myths. French Fables. Germanic Fairy Tales.  Beauty & the Beast has been thoroughly adapted by men and women.  I am curious to see Chbosky’s version featuring Watson who is a self-declared Feminist and a leader of her generation.

Will Belle change herself, give up her life to be with a Man?  Will she stop reading in order to be in Love? The trailer looks fantastic:


And why did Disney choose Men to write and direct this female-centric story instead of a Woman, especially in an era when there are plenty of female writers and directors available for the job?  The Studio has a recent history of hiring Men to helm its live-action remakes of its treasured animated classic films.

Kenneth Branagh, who did a bang-up job directing Thor for Disney/Marvel, directed Cinderella, the studio’s latest hit live-action adaptation of an animated classic film.  Chris Weitz (About A Boy) wrote the screenplay adaptation.  These guys are terrific filmmakers and storytellers, and yet, the story in question is that of a young girl.

Maleficent, the origin story of the witch featured in Sleeping Beauty, was directed by Robert Stromberg but written by Linda Woolverton (Lifetime’s upcoming Clan of the Cave Bear miniseries) and re-written by Charles Perrault.  At least, there was one woman in the mix.  There’s a sequel in the pipeline, as well.

emma-watson-beauty-and-the-beast          MALEFICENT

Alice in Wonderland, the 2010 film was directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, who seems to be the lone female screenwriter with a track record in this genre.  This film grossed $1 billion.  The 2016 sequel, Through the Looking Glass, from the same auspices, bombed at the box office.

Even Princess Leia (now General Organa) continues to be written and directed by Men as Disney and Lucas Film have hired men, albeit quite talented and capable, to helm the Star Wars franchise which seems to be skewing female with the introduction of Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey, in The Force Awakens.

I, for one, would be really interested to see a woman’s take on the subject matter.  Paging Catherine Hardwicke! Barbra Streisand! Kathryn Bigelow!

I had a very memorable conversation with a woman friend who is also a writer.  I stated categorically that Men can write Women really well (i.e., Joss Whedon), and she had the audacity (!) to correct me, saying, but not from a woman’s point-of-view.

Lightbulbs immediately went on in my male-gendered brain illuminating my own chauvinism.  As great as these iterations are, would a woman tell Cinderella or Belle’s story differently?

I would like to see those versions.


Snow White And The Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart, was a hit Universal film directed by Rupert Sanders and written by Evan Daugherty and John Lee Hancock.  I would have liked to have seen Kathryn Bigelow’s take on the sequel, The Huntsman.  Instead, visual effects specialist Cedric Nicolas-Troyan made his directorial debut replacing Frank Darabont, who dropped out.  Darabont wrote the screenplay.  The film, which centered on Charlize Theron’s Evil Queen and her sister, was a box office disappointment.

Next up is a live-action version of Mulan, and guess what!  It’s being written by two women: Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek.  Fantastic! Niki Caro (Whale Rider) has since been set to direct.  Progress!


Now that’s a step in the right direction because as we all know, The Future is Female.


N E X T    U P:

Pilot Season.

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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