Remember when Zombies were the new Vampires? Still supernatural, but not of the Universal Studios monster variety. Now The Walking Dead has lost Frank Darabont as its showrunner. Downloadable content for videogames add the undead to historical action but the dedicated zombie titles are in the rearview. How about the primary concern here, movies? Did any of you see George Romero’s Survival of the Dead? No, you didn’t. World War Z suffered a period of developmental hibernation and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can’t claw to the surface without Natalie Portman nor Emma Stone to boost bankability.
Remember when robots were the new Vampires? That didn’t last very long either. Aronofsky abandoned both Robocop and Machine Man for the biblical Noah. Arnold’s return to The Terminator hit limbo when his personal life became a media event. Spielberg remains in silence after Robopocalypse was announced, while Battlestar Galactica failed to keep its replacement spinoff show afloat.
And so, the age of the Fairy Tales and Folklore begins…
If you’re not a fan, blame 2010 CG animation. Awkward bomb The Nutcracker and smash hit Alice in Wonderland sort of cancelled each other out, but there were two unexpected late-game success stories. Dreamworks hit a sudden surge of quality with How to Train Your Dragon, while Disney-proper (as opposed to their ownership of the unstoppable juggernauts Pixar and Marvel) returned to form with Tangled. Wait… Rapunzel is a princess. What happened to all that talk of The Princess and the Frog marking the end of Disney produced Fairy Tales? Next you’ll tell me Toy Story wasn’t the conclusion of a Trilogy. Hold on, Tom Hanks is on TV, I want to hear this.
Hot off those pink pradaverse heels, we sparked 2011.
Three Little Red Riding Hoods. Hanna was a modern ode to the fairy tale in general. The film was complimented by kinetic beats by The Chemical Brothers, building to the final showdown between a hoodie wearing girl and the CIA’s own guard dog. That fight is actually staged in the mouth of a big bad wolf amusement park ride, but still somehow remained subtle about it (review here). We chilled out to the cultures of our world and its varied lore when it still seemed like fresh material, having released soon enough after Black Swan’s modern take on The Red Shoes and Swan Lake (analysis here).
Unfortunately that was sandwiched by the abysmal Red Riding Hood, courtesy of Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, and the animated Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil. That one undoubtedly wasted its voiceover talent, but never as criminal as Red Riding’s Gary Oldman.
This Summer season is a bit of a lull, but isn’t without its own witches and wardrobes. Thor is certainly Marvel’s most fairy tale flamboyant character (his home and our Earth is bridged by a magic rainbow), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides conquered the box office after a heavy marketing campaign showing the darker side of mermaids. Though very much a “maybe” it’s worth mentioning that Joe Wright has plans for a live action Little Mermaid, well suited to the style of his personal muse, Saorise Ronan.
Two Jack and Jill’s, one pair featured in the Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots, and the other being the title of an Adam Sandler Comedy, however unrelated in the plot department. The Easter Bunny already flopped with Hop, but will return again for Rise of the Guardians, not to be confused with the Neverending Story-like videogame The Last Guardian due out before long. Rise fills out its cast with Jack Frost, Tooth Fairy, Boogeyman, and Santa Clause.
Three Sleeping Beautys. After one foreign film has a limited release, another takes the Sucker Punch route, featuring a victimized girl in a modern brothel, played by the same actress in both movies. Someone else decided to throw together a Hailee Steinfeld version. Why not, right?
Four Snow Whites. The first will be Tarsem Singh’s The Brothers Grimm: Snow White featuring newcomer Lily Collins with Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen. Singh’s 300-like epic Immortals will come first, garnering more Greek fables than Greek history, with Guillermo del Toro as executive producer, a job title he’ll also claim for Puss in Boots and a darker take on Pinocchio. The producer of Crazy, Stupid, Love is now claiming he’ll direct Potter alum Emma Watson in one of…
Two Beauty and the Beasts, even if you don’t count Disney’s 3D re-release. Beastly didn’t completely kill its marketability, apparently, with its rich kid socialite subplot squeezing in Mary-Kate Olson for a bit of the self referential.
White will attempt to become the new Black again in the form of Snow White and the Huntsman, with Kristen Stewart beleaguered by Charlize Theron’s Evil Queen. Disney is finally pushing the long delayed Snow White and the Seven, under the new title The Order of the Seven. Yet another battle between the two will ensue this Fall when Once Upon a Time debuts on ABC. That show is set in a sort of a Silent Hill type small town enchanted by lollipop drama. It’s populated also by Prince Charming, Jiminy Cricket, and Rumplestiltskin. The name of the town is Storybrooke. The local newspaper is The Daily Mirror. Former writers from LOST, you should be ashamed even if you aren’t ripping off the comicbook Fables, which you probably are.
Television won’t stop there, with a procedural crime show attempting to keep the genre flowing by following pop culture’s Pied Piper. Former Buffy writers will do this with Grimm, a crimes-based-on-fairy-tales show that NBC chose over 17th Precinct, written by former Battlestar writers and described as “Cops versus Wizards.” Movies are onto the same idea with Pan, a crime drama with Sean Bean and Aaron Eckhart.
I dare you to think of a fairy tale that isn’t covered, but first consider Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer, Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, the Jeremy Renner/Gemma Aterton vehicle Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. How ya doing over there, Pixar? What’s that? You’re first ever fairy tale will be called Brave? Well I certainly wish you the best.
If you’d like to make a case for The Hobbit, there’s two of those movies on the way, and when this is all said and done, Hollywood will mine the Norse lore once more by sequelizing How to Train Your Dragon and Thor, after that character lends his fruity hammer to The Avengers.
So why fairy tales? The genre accounts for the early silent era’s greatest hits, but since then it’s been notably hit or miss where live action is concerned. Congratulations to Pan’s Labyrinth, condolences to The Brothers Grimm. Pixar’s domination of the kids market caused a Disney princess vacuum, but most being made now are back-to-darker-origin stories, the let’s-try-it-in-a-skyscraper approach. Can any of the above keep this genre from being driven beneath the impurest snows of saturation when The New CW inevitably tries to cash in? Will we see higher collars and apple red lipstick hit the runways?
Johnny Appleseed can’t plant trees fast enough to fill the poison industry’s quota.
Where you come in: Spent one month rewriting mankind’s most popular fairy tale, The Bible, and sell that pronto. Fill your wardrobe with the preppiest outfits imaginable and shave twice a day. Wear shoes with pointed toes and sing like you have no marbles. If you are a girl, keep doing what you’re doing, dreaming what you’re dreaming, and develop a chem dependency to fog that not-so-distant memory of the dashing gentleman who cheated on you.