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15 Enchanting Facts About Beauty and the Beast

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Walt Disney Studios

As the new Beauty and the Beast—starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens—readies for its big-screen premiere, the tale as old as time is ready to enchant a new generation of audiences. Before you check out the live-action update, here are a few facts about the 1991 Disney classic.

1. WALT DISNEY CONSIDERED REMAKING THE FAIRY TALE AS FAR BACK AS THE 1930S.

Walt Disney liked to take his time mulling things over, and while he was pondering Beauty and the Beast, a live-action version of the movie was released by French filmmaker Jean Cocteau. Perhaps not wanting to release an animated version of a movie that had just been released, Disney tabled the idea.

2. A NON-MUSICAL VERSION WAS COMMISSIONED IN THE LATE 1980S.

In the late '80s, Disney hired British animator Roger Purdum to direct a non-musical version of Beauty and the Beast, with Linda Woolverton writing the script. But the company wasn't happy with the result of 10 weeks of storyboarding (which you can see here)—the story was too dark and depressing.

"In the middle of our process, The Little Mermaid premiered, and that changed everything," Woolverton told the Los Angeles Times. "[T]he concept of the musical, the Broadway musical brought to animation by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. So I was flown to Disney in Florida to meet with Howard. Howard and I just clicked. ... In a hotel room in Fishkill, New York, Howard and I pretty much conjured up this version of Beauty and the Beast. Howard and I never clashed. I was his student. He taught me everything I know about musicals."

3. JACKIE CHAN CONTRIBUTED TO AN INTERNATIONAL VERSION.

Jackie Chan dubbed the Beast’s voice for the Chinese translation of the movie—including the singing. Here he is performing the title track in Mandarin with Sarah Chen:

4. "HUMAN AGAIN" WAS CUT FROM THE ORIGINAL MOVIE.

The song “Human Again” was cut from the original movie, in part because it added 11 minutes to the film, and partially because it created a problem with the passage of time. "[W]e kept asking, 'Well what? Is Maurice wondering around in the woods all this time? Is Gaston just sitting around in a tavern drinking beer after beer growing a long white beard?,'" co-director Kirk Wise said. "We couldn't quite figure out what to do with the other characters during this time that Belle's at the castle and keep the motor of the story running." In recent years, the whole sequence has been included on DVD and Blu-ray extras. In case you don’t have either of those sitting around your house, check out part of it here:

5. THREE OF ITS TUNES EARNED "BEST ORIGINAL SONG" OSCAR NOMINATIONS.

Many people remember that the title song from Beauty and the Beast took home the “Best Original Song” Oscar in 1992, but it was just one of three songs nominated from the movie. But “Belle,” the opening song, and “Be Our Guest” were also up for an Oscar. Must have been rough to be the writers of the other two songs in that category: “When You’re Alone” from Hook and “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

6. THE CO-DIRECTOR STARTED HIS CAREER DRAWING CARICATURES.

Co-director Kirk Wise started his career drawing caricatures for tourists—but not Disney tourists. While attending art school, Wise made extra money by working at Universal Studios.

7. THE BEAST IS A MASH-UP OF VARIOUS ANIMALS.

He’s got the mane of a lion, the beard and head of a buffalo, the brow of a gorilla, the eyes of a human, the tusks of a wild boar, the body of a bear, and the legs and tail of a wolf ... and a little something extra. Animator Glen Keane claims that “Beast actually has a rainbow bum, but nobody knows that but Belle.”

8. ONE ANIMATOR WISHED THAT THE BEAST STAYED A BEAST.

Keane wished that the Beast had stayed a Beast instead of transforming into his princely human form. To help bridge the gap, he penned a funny line for Belle to say at the end: “I had them record Belle saying, ‘Do you think you could grow a beard?’ It was a good idea. It’s not in the movie. We should have put it in there.”

9. ANGELA LANSBURY SAID THE DEMO MUSIC WAS A LITTLE TOO ROCK 'N' ROLL.

When Angela Lansbury heard the demo of "Beauty and the Beast," it was "kind of a rock song," she told The Huffington Post. "I told them, 'This is a sweet message, but this really isn't my style. Are you sure you want me to do this?' They told me to sing the song the way I envisioned it, so that's what I did. I created it the way a little English teapot would sing the song."

Producer Don Hahn said that Lansbury "went into the booth and sang 'Beauty and the Beast' from beginning to end and just nailed it. We picked up a couple of lines here and there, but essentially that one take is what we used for the movie."

10. THERE'S A SLY REFERENCE TO DISNEYLAND.

You have to squint to see it, but when Maurice gets lost in the woods toward the beginning of the movie, one of the road signs he finds points the way toward Anaheim—which is home to Disneyland.

Walt Disney Studios

11. THE POSTER WAS DESIGNED BY A MASTER OF THE ART.

John Alvin, the artist who created Beauty and the Beast's iconic movie poster, also designed the posters for some other films you might be familiar with, including E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Gremlins, The Lion King, The Color Purple, and Blazing Saddles.

12. BELLE MADE A CAMEO IN THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME.

Fittingly, she has her nose in a book. You can also see brief appearances by Pumbaa from The Lion King and Magic Carpet from Aladdin. It’s hard to spot Pumbaa—and tragic, as he appears to have been slaughtered—but both directors have confirmed all three cameos.

13. BELLE ISN’T THE ONLY BEAUTY AND THE BEAST CHARACTER THAT POPS UP IN OTHER MOVIES.

The Beast can momentarily be seen in Aladdin as one of the animal stacking toys the Sultan plays with.

14. THERE'S A NON-MUSICAL VERSION.

An earlier version of the movie contained no music. It also gave Belle a little sister named Clarice and a cat named Charley.

15. AUDIENCES WERE SUPPOSED TO SEE THE SEQUENCE WHERE THE YOUNG PRINCE IS TURNED INTO THE BEAST.

The sorceress would chase the prince through the castle hurling magic at him, hitting servants and accidentally turning them into objects instead. Eventually, she hits her target and turns him into an animalistic creature. She leaves, and we see the young Beast looking out from the castle windows, screaming for her to come back and fix him. Wise nixed the sequence. He later said, “The only thing that I could see in my head was this Eddie Munster kid in a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit.”

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15 Super Facts About Megamind

In 2010, the superhero craze was on the rise in the wake of such hits as Spider-Man, The Dark Knight, and Iron Man. which made it the perfect time to launch a silly sendup of the genre. And so came Megamind, an animated action-comedy about a clumsy villain whose world turns upside down once he actually defeats his superhero nemesis.

1. THE PREMISE WAS INSPIRED BY SUPERMAN.

Essentially, the pitch boiled down to "What if Lex Luthor defeated Superman?" Except instead of Luthor being a wealthy, vicious human, the film offers Megamind (Will Ferrell), a cowardly, odd-looking (but still bald!) misfit from another planet. Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt) is more the Superman type, an alien from another planet who is strong, handsome, and can fly. It's easy for the people of Metro City to love Metro Man, whereas the oddball with the big blue head is instantly regarded as "other" and "bad." It's up to Megamind to prove himself, and find his true path.

2. IT WAS INTENDED AS A VEHICLE FOR BEN STILLER.

The original script by Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons was pitched to Ben Stiller's production company, Red Hour Films, with hopes he'd star as its titular baddie. "[It] was written as a live-action movie," Stiller explained in the spring of 2008. "But we thought it would work as an animated movie so we brought it to Jeffrey Katzenberg [CEO of DreamWorks Animation], and now we're in pre-production."

3. STILLER TURNED DOWN THE LEAD, BUT STILL PLAYED AN IMPORTANT PART IN MEGAMIND.

Instead of voicing Megamind, Stiller opted to executive produce the movie—but he does pop by for a quirky audio cameo as the curmudgeonly curator Bernard, who works at the Metro Man Museum.

4. PRODUCERS WANTED ROBERT DOWNEY JR. FOR THE LEAD.

Riding high off the career revitalization of his live-action superhero hit Iron Man, Downey was game to bring his sarcastic charms to Metro City's menace. But scheduling conflicts ultimately killed the deal. So producers turned to beloved funnyman Will Ferrell, who brought a zany charisma to Megamind, and some crucial gags.

5. THE FILM CYCLED THROUGH VARIOUS TITLES BEFORE MEGAMIND STUCK. 

In the fall of 2008, Stiller was teasing the movie as Master Mind. In that version, Megamind's longtime foe was named Uberman (a more overt spoof of Superman), but by spring of 2009, the title had changed to Oobermind, while Uberman had become Metro Man.

6. SEVERAL DIRECTORS TOOK A CRACK AT MEGAMIND

"There were two or three sets of directors on the movie, each of which started making a different version of the movie before it went to someone else," illustrator/author Jason Porath, who helped with the film as an employee at DreamWorks Animation, told Mental Floss.

The project was kicked off by Gary Trousdale, who had co-helmed a string of Disney animated movies including Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Next, Kyle Jefferson and Cameron Hood, who'd directed the DWA short "First Flight," were brought on. But the final version of Megamind is credited to Tom McGrath, who had co-directed Madagascar and Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa with Eric Darnell, and would go on to helm Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (also with Darnell) and Boss Baby. For their earlier efforts, Trousdale, Jefferson, and Hood ultimately received a special thanks credit on Megamind.

7. IT'S PRETTY COMMON FOR AN ANIMATED MOVIE TO CHANGE DIRECTORS. 

In the case of DreamWorks's How To Train Your Dragon, credited directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders were brought on about one year before the film's release. Then, the beloved movie about a boy and his pet dragon would have been unrecognizable to its fans. "At that point, I think Hiccup was like 9 or 10 years old, all the dragons could talk, and Toothless as we know him didn't exist," Porath tells us. "Those little bug-eyed tiny green dragons he fights for fish in the first movie, one of those was supposed to be his companion dragon. It was a lot closer to the book source material."

This practice extends far beyond DreamWorks: At Pixar, The Good Dinosaur went from Bob Peterson to Peter Sohn. Mark Andrews replaced Brenda Chapman on Brave, and Brad Bird took over directing duties from Jan Pinkava on Ratatouille. At Sony Pictures Animation, Hotel Transylvania cycled through six directors before committing to Genndy Tartakovsky.

8. OTHER VILLAINS VANISHED THROUGH PRODUCTION. 

DreamWorks Animation

One version of Megamind had its eponymous fiend as part of a supervillain league known as the Doom Syndicate. To concoct this crooked but colorful crew of criminals, DreamWorks had an open call, encouraging its artists to pitch villain ideas. Story artist Ryan Savas has publicly shared his sketches for such quirky baddies as White Zombie, The Barista, The Ectopus, the Liberace-inspired Rhinestone, and Alec Baldwin, who can "hypnotize his victims with awesome acting skills." But as the script became streamlined (and the budget got tighter) the Doom Syndicate was cut from Megamind, meaning characters like Destruction Worker, a smoking skeleton, and "geriatric flame-wielder" Hot Flash never made it to the big screen—but they didn't disappear completely.

Three years after the film's release, DreamWorks unleashed the video game Megamind: Ultimate Showdown for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Some of the Doom Syndicate characters reappeared here, including Hot Flash. But Porath told us the fiery old broad made her mark at the animation's offices as well. "Every year, DreamWorks Animation has a big Halloween costume contest," he shared. "And the winner one year was one of the producers who dressed up as Hot Flash."

9. SOME CHARACTERS WENT THROUGH RADICAL PHYSICAL CHANGES. 

Concept art reveals that love interest/journalist Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey) had a variety of longer haircuts before the filmmakers settled on her perky pixie cut. During his Uber Man days, Metro Man's Elvis-inspired look toyed with some more outlandish iterations, which involved fur collars, sunglasses, and plenty of glitter. Some test sketches even showed Megamind with spiky hair. But the biggest transformation came to the cunning character's devoted sidekick.

Though fans of the film have come to know Minion as a fanged, talking piranha who gets around in a robo-ape mechasuit, his origins were once far less fantastical. Early concept art shows a version of the character imagined as a chubby man with a tiny jetpack.

10. STILLER WANTED TO SATIRIZE THE SUPERHERO GENRE.

This is an image of Ben Stiller.
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

"This genre's been done so many times, that it's always interesting to try to find a postmodern version of it," Stiller told MTV. So he spearheaded a story about how people are not always what they seem.

Notably, this wasn't Stiller's first tme parodying superheroes and villains. In 1999, Stiller starred in the comedy Mystery Men, which followed a batch of wannabe superheroes as they face off with a nefarious foe who was way out of their league. Their powers included farting, bowling, being furious, and shoveling "well."

11. MEGAMIND UNDERWENT A GAG PASS TO MAKE IT EVEN FUNNIER. 

In an informative blog post, Porath explains that a "gag pass" is essentially the part toward the end of production where filmmakers find opportunities to work in more jokes. In this case, the writers and storyboard artists crafted humorous dialogue and visual gags. Meanwhile, Ferrell was encouraged to improvise to bring some more of his unique brand of comedy to the mix.

12. THE FILM'S MARKETING CAMPAIGN ACHIEVED A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD.

To promote the film, Ferrell invited all wannabe superheroes to suit up and join him for a party on October 4, 2010, just a month before the film's opening. But the event also set a Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of Superheroes. With 1580 costumed attendees, Ferrell and his friends made hero history, breaking the old record by 79 superheroes.

13. THERE'S AN ANCHORMAN EASTER EGG

Toward the end of the movie, Megamind is channel surfing and crosses a news report about a water-skiing squirrel. A very similar story is covered in Ferrell's 2004 comedy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

14. MEGAMIND WAS HURT BY DESPICABLE ME

Cruel timing meant that Megamind opened four months after audiences went wild for Universal's Despicable Me, an animated movie about a villain who goes good. While Megamind pulled in a decent $321 million worldwide, Despicable Me boasted $543 million, spawning sequels and a spinoff for its cuddlier Minions.

The closeness of their premises and release dates hurt Megamind with critics, too. Roger Ebert wrote, "This setup is bright and amusing, even if it does feel recycled from bits and pieces of such recent animated landmarks as The Incredibles with its superpowers and Despicable Me with its villain." USA Today's Claudia Puig was even more cutting, concluding, "Do we really need Megamind when Despicable Me is around?"

15. MEGAMIND FOUND REDEMPTION AS HOME ENTERTAINMENT. 

Released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 25, 2011, Megamind pulled in another $74 million in domestic sales. Readily available in this fashion, its popularity grew. Today, Megamind is warmly remembered and rewatched by fans happy to mispronounce "Metro City," "school," and "spider" like the lovable villain at its center. And despite its bumpy ride through production, it's fondly remembered by the fleets of artists who brought it to life.

You can see their enthusiasm in the blogs linked above, where they've proudly shared concept art and sketches. But perhaps Porath puts it best, declaring, "To put in perspective: almost every movie goes through radical shifts like this. Megamind had a bit longer journey than others, but not by much. I would by no means consider it an outlier. There were a phenomenal number of talented, funny people working to make it great, and it was a fun time at the studio. DreamWorks treated us all really well; I will never work for somewhere that took better care of me."

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Courtesy Fathom Events // GKIDS
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Hayao Miyazaki's Greatest Hits Are Coming Back to Theaters This Fall
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STUDIO GHIBLI FEST: Castle in the Sky
Courtesy Fathom Events // GKIDS

Get ready, anime fans. As part of an upcoming film festival, some of Japanese animation icon Hayao Miyazaki’s best-loved films will be coming back to U.S. movie theaters this fall.

Fathom Events and the North American animation distributor GKIDS are running a film festival devoted to Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki's Tokyo-based animation studio. As part of a series of monthly events that began in June, the festival will be showing Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Earlier this summer, the festival showed My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Due to the festival’s popularity, Studio Ghibli Fest is adding an extra day of showings, beginning with the August re-release of Castle in the Sky. Instead of two days of movies, there will be three screenings on three different days.

The films will be shown on the last Sunday of the month, with subsequent screenings the following Monday and Wednesday. The Sunday and Wednesday films will be dubbed in English, while the Monday showings will have subtitles. The festival runs until November 29.

Since it’s through Fathom Events, the films will be shown at hundreds of theaters around the country. You can check where screenings are available near you by entering your ZIP code here.

Miyazaki is technically retired, but he hasn't been able to resist the call of Studio Ghibli. He's scheduled to release Boro the Caterpillar, a film he's calling his last (several years after saying the same about 2013's The Wind Also Rises) in 2019. So maybe we can expect an extended Studio Ghibli Fest in a few years.

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