ABC is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast with a two-hour special. Billed as an animation/live-action hybrid, it will include live never-before-seen musical performances, brand-new sets, and costumes inspired by the original film. Each performance is created to pay homage to the Disney classic while adding to the iconic story. Songs from the 1991 movie will also be performed in front of a live audience at Disney Studios. However, the special will not be a live broadcast.
Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration debuts on December 15th at 8 pm ET and will be available to stream on Disney+ the next day. While the cast for the highly anticipated special is yet to be announced, the project has some creative veterans behind the scenes. Jon M. Chu, who recently directed Crazy Rich Asians and is currently working on a film adaptation of Wicked, is executive producing. While Hamish Hamilton, who is set to direct, has worked on every Super Bowl halftime show since 2010. He’s also helmed concert films for The Rolling Stones and Christina Aguilera.
Speaking about the Beauty and the Beast special, President of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment, Craig Erwich said the studio is very fortunate to be working on the timeless story. He added that creative mastermind Jon M. Chu and veteran director Hamish Hamilton will bring a modern twist to the beloved classic for an unforgettable night of Disney magic. “Stacked with unforgettable performances, this will be a must-see special event for fans of the original and for the new generation being introduced to this cherished tale,” Erwich said via Deadline.
Chu also expressed his excitement for the project, explaining that Beauty and the Beast was always a game-changing cinematic experience for him. He watched the animated movie several times and it showed him the outer limits of what animated artists and storytellers could achieve. “So the fact that I get to executive produce a tribute to all the creatives that made this masterpiece is a dream I didn’t even think was possible,” he said. The producer also said he can’t wait for the audiences to experience this true celebration of creativity.
Beauty and the Beast is not the first Disney classic to be presented in a hybrid format. In 2019, the network broadcast The Little Mermaid Live. The special featured celebrities like Auliʻi Cravalho, Shaggy, and Queen Latifah performing songs from the popular animated film live on stage, alongside a screening of the movie. But the most memorable part of that television showcase was the truly terrifying Flounder puppet that has haunted our dreams ever since. Hopefully, the new project will have fewer demon fish involved this time.
Based on the 1756 fairy tale of the same name by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast became the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. While it didn’t take home the Oscar, it went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. The title theme song, however, managed to snag the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1992.
Most recently, the classic story hit the big screen in 2017. Directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos, this version of Beauty and the Beast featured an ensemble and choir cast including Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the eponymous Belle and the Beast. Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson starred in supporting roles.