Upcoming Fairy Tale Films

Fairy Tales

Over the last few years, a record number of filmmakers have turned toward fairy tales for inspiration, and in 2012 alone, an intriguing assortment of fairy tale films will release, not to mention the continued airing of fairy tale television shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Given the choice between a book and a film or television show, I’ll almost always choose the book, yet I’m enthusiastic about this trend, since it has the potential to take fairy tales further into popular culture and offer a different view of well-know stories.

Once Upon a Time has already given a fresh perspective on the legend of Snow White, but two full length film versions of the story will release in 2012. Snow White and the Huntsman will offer a more serious take on the tale, in which the huntsman assigned to kill Snow White becomes her protector and equips her to take down the Evil Queen, while Mirror, Mirror offers a comedic adventure story starring Julia Roberts as an evil enchantress who schemes to take the throne of Snow White.

Sleeping Beauty will also get multiple takes with Maleficent, which tells the tale from the perspective of the evil witch, and Sleeping Beauty, which will focus on the princess’s endeavors to escape the dream world which has entrapped her.

In the realm of television, ABC will start airing a television series based on Beauty and the Beast, imagining the classic fairy tale afresh in a fantasy setting. Beauty and the Beast will also get a film retelling at the hands of Guillermo del Toro. Neither project has many details available so far, but I’m sure we’ll hear more as release dates approach.

Amid all the retellings of popular fairy tales, less explored stores like Jack and the Beanstalk and Hansel and Gretel will also appear on the big screen, with Jack the Giant Killer, which casts Jack as an intrepid young farmer who ventures into the kingdom of the giants in search of a kidnapped princess, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Killers.

And Pixar has invented its own fairy tale story, Brave, which will come out mid-year. Set in the highlands of Scotland, it incorporates many fairy tale elements–a princess, a kingdom in danger, and a curse–but based on the trailer, it appears to mix up those elements in an interesting fashion.

Some of these seem like they may be too dark for me and there’s no way to tell (yet) about the type of content they’ll include, but I’m hoping at least some of them will be appropriate to watch, because I enjoy fresh takes on the old legends.

What about you? Are you looking forward to any of the upcoming fairy tale films? Do you think this trend of fairy tale films will continue?


  • Kessie
    January 20, 2012 - 10:11 pm · Reply

    I’m enjoying Grimm right now, mostly because the friendly Big Bad Wolf character is so hilarious. It reminds me of that old miniseries The Tenth Kingdom, a bit, only all the monsters live in our modern-day world.

    Also the Pied Piper who controlled the rats with the violin and the techno rave was a stroke of genius. 🙂

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 24, 2012 - 5:22 pm · Reply

      I actually haven’t watched Grimm, partly because I often find crime dramas disturbing, and partly because I don’t watch much television in general and between the occasional Dr. Who episode (I’m slowly catching up) and Once Upon a Time, I find I don’t have time for more. But it still excites me that they’re expanding fairy tale television shows, and Grimm does sound interesting. I’m glad to hear they’re doing a good job with it. 🙂

  • Emily
    January 21, 2012 - 9:20 am · Reply

    I’m very excited about some of these! I hadn’t heard of all of them, though, so it was interesting to read about them. As you mentioned, I had heard some of them had a darker flavor, which was a dissapointment… especially when it was headed towards an excellent film with an interesting new take on an old story.

    I am, however, very excited about Pixar’s Brave! I hadn’t heard of that one yet, but Pixar is almost always good. 🙂 I’ve always liked Sleepy Beauty too, though I’m not sure how fond I’d be of a retelling from the witch’s perspective. And the Beauty and the Beast film and show also peaked my interest, as most things Beauty and the Beast do. 😉

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 24, 2012 - 5:24 pm · Reply

      Yes, I’m always a bit disappointed when filmmakers (or storytellers in general) take things in an unnecessarily dark direction. Not that I want to see everything artificially sweet and happy–the original tales certainly weren’t–but I don’t like the trend to glorify all things dark and gruesome. I’m hopeful that most of these will avoid that tendency and strike a better balance.

      You’re right about Pixar, and I’m looking forward to what they’ll do with a more traditional fantasy-type story. 🙂

      I’m probably most excited about the two Beauty and the Beast remakes, since that’s my favorite fairy tale. All things considered, it’s a good time for fairy tale fans!

  • Bianca
    January 21, 2012 - 1:54 pm · Reply

    I love the new series Once Upon A Time. I think it’s wonderful and well thought out. I make sure I watch this series every Sunday. 🙂 I kind of look forward to a lot of these other ones just to see what they’re like. I look forward to Brave, for sure. I hadn’t heard of the Sleeping Beauty or Beauty and the Beast ones yet, so I look forward to hearing more on these. I am a little worried about some being too dark, though. Due to Julia Roberts being in Mirror, Mirror, I’ll probably check that one out. Not so sure about Snow White and the Huntsman. I like the story line, but I’m not a huge fan of Kristen Stewart’s acting. But overall I do think it’s really cool how fairy tales are being brought back out and turned into new things.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 24, 2012 - 5:28 pm · Reply

      Bianca, I’m a fan of Once Upon a Time as well, and I’m quite curious to see how certain aspects of plot and character unfold as well as how they will continue to add in popular fairy tales.

      I have a wait and see approach on these films, since the current details are sketchy on many. I have some level of interest in most of them (with the exception of Maleficent and Hansel and Gretel), but I’m reserving my opinion until I see ratings and reviews. Still, it is fun to see fairy tales getting so much attention and so many fresh interpretations. Some of them are bound to be good. 🙂

  • Maria Tatham
    January 21, 2012 - 8:52 pm · Reply

    Sarah, all of the interest in fairytales is astonishing and exciting. Glad that I got this announcement at ‘your place’!

    Why the flood of interest now, I wonder?

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 24, 2012 - 5:30 pm · Reply

      It is exciting, Maria! I’m not sure what exactly sparked this heightened wave of interest. I know that the Once Upon a Time producers spoke of returning to fairy tale inspiration because fairy tales are about hope, which people need in troubled times. Perhaps there’s also a component of looking for an economic sure thing. People are drawn to fairy tales, so if filmmakers borrow elements from these familiar stories, it is an instant audience hook.

      Whatever the reason, I’m happy about it!

  • Mary Ruth Pursselley
    January 21, 2012 - 10:33 pm · Reply

    The increasing popularity of the speculative genres in general is definitely hard to ignore. I haven’t been able to figure out a specific reason for this with any certainty, but I have to say it makes me pretty happy.
    I hadn’t heard about most of these upcoming films, Sarah, so thanks for posting this. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them!

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 24, 2012 - 6:31 pm · Reply

      Mary, I do think the current increased interest in fairy tales is a natural part of the heightened demand for all things speculative. Like you, I think it’s cause to celebrate, and I’m quite interested to see how these films will turn out. 🙂

  • Evangeline Denmark
    January 22, 2012 - 12:54 pm · Reply

    You know I’m excited to see this trend in film. I also have to scratch my head in wonder at why we keep hearing from publishers that fairy tales are out. Honestly, I don’t think they’ll ever be out. There’s a reason these stories are enduring classics, but sometimes there does seem to be an upsurge in interest. Apparently, that’s now! Pixar’s Brave looks amazing, and I trust them to deliver a compelling story wheareas the rest of the movies are a gamble. Let’s hope the “trend” brings a demand for quality speculative stories that capture imaginations and hearts with truth that can transcend the current fascination with the darker aspects of these tales. Not that I’m arguing for Disneyed versions. I just want to see light prevail against darkness.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 24, 2012 - 6:33 pm · Reply

      I agree with you, Evangeline, that fairy tales will never go out of style. They’ve lasted for hundreds of years, and they only seem to grow more popular with the passing of time. And given that we’re in the midst of a season where all things fairy tale seem to be getting heightened attention, I can’t imagine why publishers don’t see more of a market for it. Hopefully, that will change!

      Let’s hope the “trend” brings a demand for quality speculative stories that capture imaginations and hearts with truth that can transcend the current fascination with the darker aspects of these tales. Not that I’m arguing for Disneyed versions. I just want to see light prevail against darkness.

      Well expressed–I’m in full agreement!

  • TheQuietPen
    January 24, 2012 - 10:26 pm · Reply

    Very interesting–I had no idea that there were so many other fairy tale films and TV shows coming out in film!

    I do appreciate a bit of a departure from “Disney-fication” into more interesting drama and pathos. Hans Christian Andersen had some wonderfully melancholy endings to his works, and I do find the brutal morals of Grimm’s fairy tales satisfying at times. However, I also find the modern bent towards what I call “trendy darkness & cynicism” annoying and disturbing. It’s an almost self-assured, conceited sort of thing that says “well now, we know the REAL story.” It seems to rob fairy tales of their magic to try and corner the market on the “real truth.” Only the Holy Scriptures have that authority.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 26, 2012 - 5:17 pm · Reply

      There are other fairy-tale inspired films in the works for 2013 (some of these may be pushed back till then) and beyond that I haven’t even mentioned here. This is certainly the biggest rush toward fairy tale films that I can remember, and like you, I’m glad to see some upcoming interpretations that will go beyond the Disney slant–though I do enjoy a number of the Disney films.

      Some of the original stories were tinted with sadness, of course, but few that I’ve ever encountered possessed a dark, cynical outlook. And I’m with you in disliking the notion that darker tales present the true story behind the fairy tales we all know. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

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