Maleficent (lost production material of cancelled Disney animated film; 2003-2005)
Maleficent was a Disney 3D animated feature based on the 1959 Sleeping Beauty film that started development around 2003 but was cancelled in 2005 as they wanted to go for a live-action approach instead. In 2003, during Don Hahn's meeting with Disney's animation department, it was suggested to create an origin film about Maleficent from Disney's animated film Sleeping Beauty (1959) in the same vein as the just released Broadway musical Wicked, with a screenplay written by Paul Dini , the project was kept private and was expected to be announced with the voice cast, however it eventually got cancelled.
A newborn is found in a barren land that was part of the Enchanted Forest. The Queen of fairies, who raises all creatures born in the forest, finds the baby and names her Maleficent. As she grows up, Maleficent is hated by other fairies for her dark magic and selfish behavior, but she dreams of taking the throne. During one of her wild adventures, Maleficent meets Amitola, a bright and colorful fairy, they soon became close friends. On the lunar celebration, the holy dove, a white bird that gives power to fairies, doesn't bless Maleficent, causing her to crash into the Queen's hall and later reveal a dark secret about the queen’s relationship with a human king named Stefan.
The Queen curses her with horns, and Maleficent is now known as the "Mistress of All Evil". She gathers followers, kills the Queen, and plans to overthrow the Queen's son, Albriech, who took the throne. During that time, Amitola and Maleficent got separated, their paths eventually diverged when Maleficent's thirst for power became too much to bear. Amitola decided to leave the Kingdom after it’s destruction and unfair rule. When King Stefan and his wife celebrate the birth of their daughter, Maleficent curses her to die on her 16th birthday. The King seeks help from fairies who hide and raise the baby, Aurora. As her 16th birthday approaches, the fairies set out to find Prince Phillip to break the curse.
In an interview with Don Hahn, Hahn said the light bulb to give Maleficent her own story went off more than 10 years before the live-action Maleficent film was released, in a meeting with Disney's animation department, as they were all mulling over possibilities of fleshing out existing characters in the Disney canon.
"It was about 2003 when were sitting around one day, asking, 'Who is a really strong and interesting female character we can base a movie on,' and somebody said 'Maleficent,' but I can't point out exactly who it was," Hahn recalled. "It made sense, because she was this really popular villainess who is glamorous and like a runway model. Still, she's been wounded somehow in the past."
The timing of the idea was largely inspired by the Broadway smash, Wicked, which delved into the history of the witch sisters from The Wizard of Oz, Hahn said.
"We thought we could do a 'Wicked' thing with Maleficent and show her back story. That was just the germ of the idea and it sat in animation for a while," Hahn said. "We did some development and some drawings on it, but then it went over to live-action as Tim Burton got involved around 2005."
Eventually helping Maleficent along in its live-action ambitions was the blockbuster success of director Tim Burton's vibrant, colorful live-action film Alice in Wonderland, which gave somewhat of an alternate take on the time-honored tale-turned-Disney animated classic.
Hahn said the first person he pitched Maleficent to was Burton, along with another film that gave Burton a chance to revisit a bit of his own filmmaking past and here is where the live-action adaptation started.
The development of the project began in 2003 and was cancelled two years later in 2005 during the voice casting process. Catherine O'Hara and Kiera Knightley were among the potential voice actors being considered. Despite having completed computer-generated models and test animations, the project was kept confidential and was expected to be announced with the voice cast.
However, the project was eventually cancelled and wasn't pursued further until 2009 when it was revived as a live-action film with Tim Burton as director. The film was finally released in 2014 with Angelina Jolie playing the role of Maleficent, noting that Angelina’s facial features were inspired for the Character “Maleficent” during the development of the animated film.
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