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‘Beauty and the Beast’ Creatives Reflect on Disney Tale 25 Years Later

One of Disney’s classic films, “Beauty of the Beast,” waltzed the floor of Comic-Con this past weekend, where the “tale as old as time” celebrated its 25th anniversary with plenty of nostalgia and gratitude for fans in attendance.

Dohn Hahn, who produced the animated “Beast” as well as the current live-action version, which opens next year, hosted the creative forum. On hand for the event were original directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise as well as animators James Baxter, David Pruksma and Nik Ranieri.

The main character of Belle, according to art director Brian McEntee, was supposed to have a pink dress (“marketing wanted everything pink and lavender, because that’s what every girl likes,” he said) but eventually convinced Disney executives to approve Belle’s gold dress and make her unique from every other princess.

Baxter, the supervising Belle animator, said that his “battlefield promotion” at age 23, gave him the opportunity to create ground-breaking work. To much applause, Baxter said “the intimidating part of it was, it’s got to be beautiful- it’s in the title”.

Wise also revealed that hit song “Be our Guest” was originally meant to be sung to Belle’s Father, Maurice, until story artist, Reese Woodside insisted that “the song is being sung to the wrong character…and taking too long to get Belle to the castle.” Don Hahn, chimed in with “it worked out better because it would have been an odd story of the Beast falling in love with the Maurice.” The audience reacted with chuckles.

Trousdale talked about the first time the film was shown in color to an audience in a Pasadena Theater, where a 19 year-old young woman reacted to their film with a shrug, “Guys she’s just a cartoon,” she said. The same teenager later, however, nearly lost it during the dance sequence.

When the studio pressured director Kirk Wise to make early deadlines for the film, he said “I’m just going to make the best damn Disney film I can possibly make”.

Next year’s highly anticipated live-action adaptation of the classic, which stars “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson, wasn’t mentioned during the panel, but those fans in attendance didn’t seem to mind, nor did they ask about it.

The special “Beauty and the Beast” signature collection release will be made available digitally on Sept. 6 of this year and on Blu-ray Sep. 20.

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