‘Into the Woods’ to Get Family-Friendly Disney Plot Changes

Into the Woods Meryl Streep

It’s no surprise that Disney’s upcoming adaptation of “Into the Woods” will be less dark than its source material, but the pic will also feature major plot changes.

Composer Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the music and lyrics for the less-than-chipper 1987 musical reimagining of classic fairy tales, revealed the new plot details during a recent speaking engagement with high school drama teachers.

To make the pic more family-friendly, Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) will not die. The film will also be less sexual as Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine) won’t sleep with the Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) and the relationship between Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp) and Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) won’t be sexually laced.

According to Playbill, one of the teachers at the event said he is considering putting on a production of “Into the Woods,” but is concerned about the lascivious relationship between Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.

“You’ll be happy to know that Disney had the same objections,” Sondheim said. “You will find in the movie that Rapunzel does not get killed and the prince does not sleep with the [Baker’s Wife] … You know, if I were a Disney executive, I probably would say the same thing.”

This means that the song “Any Moment” performed during Prince Charming and the Baker’s Wife’s tryst will “probably” be cut. It’s unclear what will happen to “Lament,” which the Witch (Meryl Streep) sings after Rapunzel dies, and “Moments in the Woods,” which the Baker’s Wife’s belts out after the Prince leaves. The film will feature two new songs that Sondheim penned with James Lapine.

A teacher then asked how to respond to high school students frustrated with performing edited, PG versions of plays.

“You have to explain to them that censorship is part of our puritanical ethics and it’s something that they’re going to have to deal with,” Sondheim responded. “There has to be a point at which you don’t compromise anymore, but that may mean that you won’t get anyone to sell your painting or perform your musical. You have to deal with reality.”

The movie, directed by Rob Marshall, hits theaters on December 25.

UPDATE:

Sondheim released a statement to Playbill saying that he was misquoted in the original New Yorker article in which he spoke about “Into the Woods'” plot alterations. Here it is below:

“An article in The New Yorker misreporting my ‘Master Class’ conversation about censorship in our schools with seventeen teachers from the Academy for Teachers a couple of weeks ago has created some false impressions about my collaboration with the Disney Studio on the film version of Into the Woods. The fact is that James (Lapine, who wrote both the show and the movie) and I worked out every change from stage to screen with the producers and with Rob Marshall, the director. Despite what the New Yorker article may convey, the collaboration was genuinely collaborative and always productive.

When the conversation with the teachers occurred, I had not yet seen a full rough cut of the movie. Coincidentally, I saw it immediately after leaving the meeting and, having now seen it a couple of times, I can happily report that it is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie.

And for those who care, as the teachers did, the Prince’s dalliance is still in the movie, and so is ‘Any Moment.'”

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  1. What if Disney……Shoot both the classic story and a PG version with the two new songs. I would think that it would be quite easy with not much extra shooting and they can sell both versions with one a PG and the other PG13. They can make more money and keep true to the vision.

  2. PTRogers says:

    Well, this sounds like a mess. Won’t be wasting my money on this. Might not even rent this. Why do INTO THE WOODS if you don’t want to do INTO THE WOODS?

  3. Do it right! says:

    It saddens me to see that Sondheim must be strapped for cash to allow the adulteration of what is already one of his finest works. The whole point of the second act is to emphasize just how different reality is from Disneyland. The end of his musical says it all, “…happily ever after.” “I wish…” As if it wasn’t bad enough the Disney has already sterilized the Brothers Grimm and left an entire generation unprepared for the realities they would inevitably face in adulthood, but now we have to repeat that mistake with a another generation. If you think the play is too sexual for a high school production do something else, but don’t kid yourself, the kids you are supposedly protecting are a lot more savvy than you give them credit for. It’s their parents who can’t deal with the facts of the real world, thanks to Disney.

  4. Normandy says:

    What a bunch of silly, stupid comments! Go see the play if you wnat to see the play! Sondheim himself gave the blessing for the cuts so STFU!

  5. cadavra says:

    To quote another Disney character: “What a surprise. I almost had a heart attack and died from such a surprise.”

    Hey, Disney: While you’re at it, we’re due for another version of “Romeo and Juliet.” Why not let those crazy kids live happily ever after in this one?

  6. Craig Hunter says:

    This kind of thinking simply makes me crazy. Again a masterpiece – I was excited to spend my hard earned money on – will / is in the process of being destroyed to make a few happy and ensure a quiet cash grab.

    Only upside is I get to save my money and monies I would have spent on films starting “artists” that have agreed to appear in a film that by definition must destroy the artists vision.

  7. I just want to point out that “Into the Woods” isn’t a re-imagining of fairy tales but their original German versions just shaped to interconnect with each other. Which is one of the main reasons I love the musical. It keeps the darkness of the original tales. Which was always my concern when I heard Disney was making the film. I mean in Cinderella’s story alone, they do the foot mutilations, as well as the pecking out of the stepsisters eyes, are these elements still in the film? I hope so, but might not be because of how un-Disney they are. But since I love all versions of fairy tales, I shall reserve judgement until I see the film and possibly just think that the movie takes place in an alternative comic book world.

  8. Shari D says:

    That’s like Disney doing a film adaptation of Hair but having a problem with the plays nudity and drug use… Why even do it? The nonjuvenile approach to the already dark Grimm Bro fairytales is what made into the woods a hit. Disney editing a Sondheim play is like me zhoozhing up a Monet with a crayon. No matter how good my intentions are, we all know I’m just gonna ruin a masterpiece.

  9. NathanF says:

    oh my god…. who cares? Its a a 27 year old piece of theatre. We should be happy they are making movie musicals at all these days. Seriously people. The movie versions are not meant to be duplicates of the stage productions. They are inherently different. If you can’t handle that… don’t spend your money on it.

  10. mr119 says:

    NO NO NO!!! Ruining my favorite musical. To take out essential parts of the story and great songs because Disney finds it too racy?! Seriously?! Isn’t there something else Disney can ruin? How can Sondheim just be ok with these changes? Very disappointing…

    • Daniel Radlbeck says:

      If you want to change it so much then don’t make the movie you know how may kids have already seen this on Broadway and in Theatres all over the country Just make the movie PG13

  11. jennylens says:

    Cutting out my fave parts!! It is thru darkness, suffering and loss we LEARN and GROW. Oh no. I ‘get’ where Sondheim is coming from… he rather see it produced than not at all. But NO Moment in the Woods??? NO Little Red Riding Hood’s sexual awakening or the Wolf talking about first grandma and then her in very erotic terms… and all these puritans don’t realize THAT Is what Little Red Riding Hood is about! GO BACK to the ORIGINAL Italian and French Court versions … WHAT a blown op … Johnny Depp could be just great as an erotic wolf. NO NO NO NO

    THIS is my go-to music! I’m a famous punk rock photographer. I tell EVERYONE this is what I listen to more than the Ramones, Clash, Blondie, Patti Smith and so many bands whose iconic images I took. I am not surprised but mad as hell. NOW Disney rules the world. I would cast a spell on them … beware the tales we tell for that is the spell … AND if ppl think NOT talking about sex means it will go away, think again. Heartbroken but not surprised.

  12. fsdfds says:

    Seriously? You are ruining my favorite musical!!! The darkness is part of its story and it makes it better. Why does everything have to be so PG? Kids might as well learn this stuff and teenagers already know about it. This is ridiculous.

  13. Shane says:

    This is a lad of bull “There has to be a point at which you don’t compromise anymore, but that may mean that you won’t get anyone to sell your painting or perform your musical. You have to deal with reality.” That’s RICH. Death, affairs, sexuality, and darkness are all reality. This is a sad day for into the woods..

  14. gene of aquitaine says:

    geez…why not do something else that is family friendly and leave this project for someone else to do keeping the teeth…the show is not just a fairy tale mash up and is not a kids show…the adult situations are are really the whole show…I guess I am just echoing some of the earlier voices…bad idea…lousy idea

  15. Dave says:

    If Disney found some of the content salacious or objectionable or not “family friendly”, they shouldn’t have done the project. They knew the plot when they decided to do the film.

  16. Lee says:

    The drama clubs can still perform the unedited version of the play, all they have to do is perform the songs on opening night when the curtain rises. Once the play starts it’s out of the director’s hands.

  17. Jwb52z says:

    I think that if they feel the need to change and sanitize things, that maybe they should do their own material that’s “pure and innocent and clean” rather than screw with material they find objectionable.

  18. Leonard Simon says:

    Maybe it’s time for Sondheim to write another letter to the New York Times.

  19. Kenneth says:

    The day Disney goes bankrupt and stops “disneyfy” stories in the hunt for more dollars will be a good day for mankind. Sadly it probably will never happen

  20. If you have an issue with the play, don’t do the play. Editing it down like this only causes it to lose its meaning. There are plenty of other plays to be done.

  21. Sur says:

    I will not see this movie in a theater, won’t stream it or buy it. On December 25th, I’ll load my DVD into my player and watch the story as it was meant to be enjoyed.

    It’s a shame that Disney wouldn’t leave Into the Woods intact and release the movie under the Touchstone banner.

  22. Dave F says:

    Why would it be shocking that Disney doesn’t want a movie that kills off one of their favorite princesses. It’s not like they don’t kill off people all the time. Elsa and Anna’s parents being the most recent. Heck, Bambi and Nemo lost their mothers as did Cinderella. I’m sure if it was only Witch dying the story would still be there.

    They should have just let someone else do the film and made it R so the kids wouldn’t see it.

  23. With so many great fresh ideas around, I don’t get why the Studios would ruin a perfectly good one, changing important details that made that story, once great. Oh. I know… Let’s just destroy some legendary plots and their creativity because it’s only about money. Right?

  24. Andre' Spathelf-Sanders says:

    Although I am intrigued to see how they pull this off successfully, it saddens me to know that such key parts of this musical are to be taken out of it. Rapunzel’s death is the major turning point in the whole musical, it show that these characters are not immortal, and if anything it brings a more 3 dimensional being out of all the characters. And when The Bakers wife sleeps with Cinderella’s Prince it shows truly that these characters that everyone has grown to know are just as human and just as moral as anyone else in the world. The saddest moments in this gorgeous Sondheim musical are my favorite parts. “Lament” is the true set up for “Children Will Listen” and the song following “lament” in which all of the remaining characters blame each other for the Giants arrival is another point in the play that shows how vulnerable they feel and what we do as humans, when we are scared or threatened or guilty we blame someone else. Again I don’t know how they will pull this off, but I will wait and watch and see. Perhaps Disney could add a touch of it’s magic on this unique play…

    Andre’ Spathelf-Sanders South Bend Indiana Age 17

  25. Dani says:

    What is the point of making this into film then? Keep it as is and dont mess with it the original story.

  26. Leon says:

    What the Hell Hollywood! Stop ruining great stories by making everything so water down and childish. I am so tired of the way things are going. I pray that someones fixes this. Whats next disney Star wars with no light sabers or laser guns cause they’re too violent…. oh wait disney loves violence its just mild sexual themes and on screen death disney has a problem with. And smoking, and, freedom of speech, and well everything. Bugger off disney and get some balls. Or boobs or whatever you need to man up and make this film right!

  27. BRidget says:

    I was afraid this was going to happen when I read that they were making a movie out of this. Many things go over children’s head, I mean I was quite surprised at how many sexual references I missed in Grease. But if it is coming from Disney I can understand why they would make the necessary chances. I hope they have deleted scenes or clips of the actors performing the songs. I would also like to see the renditions of ‘Agony’ and ‘Last Midnight’….although I find it hard to imagine anyone but Bernadette Peters as the Wicked Witch

  28. Amanda says:

    I guess it’s true. Careful the things you do, children will listen. Having just recently performed Into the Woods at my school, it has become incredibly close to my heart and this news is fairly heartbreaking. Our director did not alter the show to make it “family friendly” or “school appropriate” and still parents brought their children, and we managed to sell out all 3 performances. Half the time, kids are unaware and oblivious to the implications behind the words. These cuts and alterations are just attempts at sheltering children from the actual reality of the world we live in today, a reality they will have to come to accept eventually. A reality they’ve already been exposed to. The media has put individuals like Kim Kardashian on a pedestal for for sex tapes and scandals. Similarly, in the past few years there has been 50+ shootings, including the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, the devastating Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, and most recently: the Isla Vista shooting. Sex and death are a part of life; we need to reproduce to live and we need to die to prevent overpopulation. It saddens me to see that future generations will most likely go to this version of the show instead of the original unless they happen to be a theater lover. Disney can murder Bambi’s mother and Simba’s father, and can have overly sexualized characters like Jessica Rabbit, but they butcher these things in a show that has a lot of good messages that do pertain to real life. Sondheim, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. I’m willing to give the movie a chance but as Little Red says, “nice is different than good”.

  29. I performed this production in High School and there were no complaints what so ever. These aren’t minor plot points being edited, but huge themes. Kids see much worse these days than an affair and a death. Disney just doesn’t want to taint their image of “happily ever after” which is what Into The Woods is about.

  30. John says:

    I saw the original production 8 times and have played The Baker in community theatre. I can’t believe that Disney is going to screw up one of the best B’way shows ever to come along. To cut the “Witch’s Lament” and the wonderful “Moments in the Woods” where The Baker’s Wife has most of her character development is a sin. So, are they going to cut when the Step Mother cuts of the heel and the toe of the Step Sisters? Are the birds going to peck out the Step Sisters’ eyes at Cinderella’s wedding? go back to the original Grimm’s Tales – it is violent and sexual. Little Red’s cape isn’t just to keep her warm you know. And the Wolf’s song – it is sensual in that eating can be very sensual as it pertains to one of the senses – TASTE. I’ll still give the film a try, but it almost sounds like I’ll have to go back to the video with Joanna Gleason and Chip Zien. Will the cut numbers at least be part of the special features when it’s released on DVD?

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