Black-ish and Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi has signed on to play Tinker Bell in the latest of Disney’s live-action reboots of their classic animated films, Peter Pan And Wendy.
Shahidi joins Jude Law, who’s on board to play Captain Hook, and Alexander Molony and Ever Anderson, who will play the title characters. David Lowery (A Ghost Story) will direct.
This will mark the first time a person of colour will play the Tinker Bell role, and follows in the footsteps of Disney casting Halle Bailey to play Ariel in another live-action reboot, The Little Mermaid.
Sources at Deadline say that the release of the film is expected to be theatrical and not go the Disney+ route. They better hope that it performs better than some of the recent Peter Pan-adjacent adaptations then, as films such as Joe Wright‘s Pan have disappointed at the box office.
Nobody really remembers, but even Steven Spielberg‘s Hook from 1991 didn’t perform as well as hoped. It made about a $50 million profit but was considered a financial disappointment. Disney will hope that is not a sign that audiences simply aren’t interested in Peter Pan adaptations.
In the novel and films, Tinker Bell the fairy is Pan’s closest friend. She was famously played by Julia Roberts in Spielberg’s quasi-sequel to J.M. Barrie‘s novel. Per Deadline, both the studio and Lowery quickly pursued Shahidi, whose star has been on the rise over the last few years.
Shahidi is a great talent and will pull off the role no problem. Whether the film itself will be any good is the real question. Even with a talented filmmaker like Lowery at the helm, these Disney live-action remakes have a tendency to become similarly hollow, corporate repackages. And the recent reaction to Mulan shows that audiences may finally be getting sick of them.
And if the coronavirus continues to impact multiplexes, these kinds of hugely-budgeted movies are going to continue to struggle to make money. Mulan, released on Disney+ in the US thanks to the pandemic, made between $60 million to $90 million from those rentals; well below the movie’s reported budget of $200 million.
Studios may want to re-think their strategy now that massive opening weekends may be a thing of the past. Hey, it’s almost as if completely eroding mid-budgeted movies that relied on word of mouth and could play for months on end wasn’t the greatest idea!