Disney Is Making a Fairy Tale Musical that's NOT a Remake!

Big news! It was just announced that Disney is working on a new musical inspired by yet another one of the fairy tales that we love, "The Princess and the Pea." The title of the movie will be Penelope, and it is being written by Robert Sudduth, who worked Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, a well-received jukebox musical series that aired on NBC last year. For those of you hoping for another Tangled or Frozen, I'm sorry to inform you that Penelope is going to be live-action, which means it will probably look more along the lines of Once Upon a Time. If you still desire a Disney Renaissance-style animated musical adaptation of "The Princess and the Pea," look no further than the 2002 indie film The Princess and the Pea, which might be even better than this one turns out.

The Princess and the Pea 2002 animated film

This isn't the first live-action musical adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale either. The Wonderful World of Disney released a made-for-TV adaptation of the musical Once Upon a Mattress, which was a comedic take on the tale with some racy themes. Even the Barbie movies made a joke about doing a "Princess and the Pea" adaptation in 2010's A Fashion Fairytale, so it's pretty common knowledge that it's one of the few fairy tales that Disney has yet to create their own spin on. Since Disney has already changed the title of the movie to Penelope, it's likely that they will go the route of Frozen and change the story to a point where it is barely recognizable from the original story, though it is unknown how much of those changes will be for the sake of comedy.

Penelope, a 2006 film starring Christina Ricci

The title Penelope, which is likely derived from the film's protagonist, is an interesting choice considering that there was a fairy tale-style movie in 2006 with the same name starring Christina Ricci. The film, which had very little in common with "The Princess and the Pea," told the story of a young woman who was cursed to have nose of a pig until she could find true love. It was a little ahead of its time because (spoiler alert) the love she needed to break the spell turned out to be within herself and not a Prince Charming. Disney's Penelope will likely share some similar themes since relying on princes has gone out of fashion for modern Disney Princesses. The extreme sensitivity to pain that caused the fair princess to feel a pea under a pile of mattresses is probably going to have be altered as well since modern princesses don't have any of these weak sensitivities. Instead, Penelope will probably have something like heightened senses that allow her to detect her enemy from a mile away just as easily as a pea twenty feet below her.

Raya from Raya and the Last Dragon in an action pose with a glowing green light behind her

"The Princess and the Pea" was a popular children's story for its simplicity, but it had few faithful adaptations due to a lack of meaningful themes or a villain. Still, the story of a maiden who no one believed was a princess until she could prove it is a popular one among children. Disney gave a subtle nod to this story in an episode of Sofia the First called "The Emerald Key" in which a princess named Lani requests help from Sofia's family to save her kingdom and is forced to prove her identity when an imposter arrives claiming to be the real princess. This episode was done extremely well, and if Penelope is anything like it, it may be worth watching. The concept of needing to prove oneself is quite timeless and was even incorporated using modern ideals in the recent Hulu film The Princess.

Princess Lani tries to prove her identity to Sofia and Amber

There isn't enough information about Penelope right now to form a solid opinion. However, it's exciting that Disney is finally working on a new princess movie that isn't a remake of something we've already seen. They were bound to run out of animated movies to recreate eventually. I'm also excited that this is going to be a musical since that isn't always a guarantee these days when it comes to fairy tale movies. What do you hope to see the most from a new adaptation of "The Princess and the Pea?" Let me know in the comments!


Sugar said…
I really think I'll watch the old movie you recommend, a new Disney version sounds to me like another all-powerful warrior that won't have a romantic arc or it will be unsatisfying, Disney hasn't done anything that really excites me movie-wise for a few years.
By the way, I recently saw a movie of Russian origin called "My Sweet Monster", I would say it's a mixture of several things...it's like taking concepts from Shrek (if Shrek was a guy and the lovable cute kind), Beauty and the Beast, Moana, a Frozen-style villain with a "rebellious princess"-style protagonist who resembles Anna in some ways.
I can't say that the story is perfect, but it has some interesting twists that I did not expect and I was surprised by the fairly correct representation of what true love is: kind without abuse or manipulation, it implies putting the happiness of the other before your own and it is capable of sacrificing itself for the one it loves.
If you haven't seen it, it's a good way to pass the time.
Lisa Dawn said…
Sounds interesting! And yes, you should definitely watch The Princess and the Pea! It's a great film!

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