From the Hollywood Reporter-
Disney+ has put its musical prequel spinoff from its 2017 feature film on hold amid delays with creative elements and scheduling challenges with its cast. Sources close to the streamer say the show will eventually be made though it’s unclear if the cast, including film stars Josh Gad and Luke Evans, will be available when (and if) that comes to pass.
As THR exclusively reported in March 2020, the project was developed as a six-episode series that would feature Gad and Evans reprising their roles as Gaston and LeFou, respectively, in an origin story for the beloved characters. The show was picked up to series with an eight-episode order in June 2021 with Briana Middleton (The Tender Bar) cast as LeFou’s stepsister, Tilly.
Production on the show was set to begin this spring but was pushed to the summer in Europe in a bid to film in beautiful weather. Sources note that some creative elements were not far enough along to accommodate that timeline. Scheduling challenges with the cast also are a factor as some talent had hard outs for other projects beginning in August. With the window of availability shrinking, Disney+ has opted to put the series on hold for the time being. The pandemic, it’s worth noting, has made scheduling a considerable challenge as actors, writers, directors and factors like soundstage and location availability was turned upside down following the industrywide production shutdown in 2020.
Still, Disney decided against postponing the current timeline because of weather constraints in the U.K., as sources note few wanted the cheery musical to be filmed in gloomy weather.
The news comes days after Disney+ announced that British pop star Rita Ora was set to join the cast of the series, which also was to feature Fra Fee and Jelani Alladin. It’s unclear if the current cast will be able to return when and if a new timeline opens up.
Gad, who was set to serve as showrunner alongside Once Upon a Time creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, has a packed schedule with a central voice role in Apple’s animated comedy Central Park and a starring part in Peacock’s Wolf Like Me. Evans, who next appears in the live-action Pinocchio for Disney, has Apple’s Echo 3 lined up, among other projects.
Gad, Kitsis, Horowitz and EGOT-winner Alan Menken were all signed on to exec produce the Beauty and the Beast prequel, with the latter set to compose the soundtrack. Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed, Respect) was attached to direct the pilot. Evans was to be credited as an exec producer. Gad, Kitsis and Horowitz were all involved in writing the scripts. ABC Signature is the studio.
Kitsis and Horowitz remain based at ABC Signature with a sizable overall deal. The Beauty and the Beast prequel stemmed from Kitsis and Horowitz’s time working with Gad on the scrapped Muppets Live Another Day comedy series that was in the works for months at Disney+. The trio created the project, which was to be an eight-episode limited series that took place after the events of Muppets Take Manhattan. Conversations about the untitled Beauty and the Beast prequel began shortly after the trio decided to depart Muppets.
Disney+ has had its fair share of creative stumbles since its launch a couple of years ago, with Muppets as well as fairy tale themed drama Book of Enchantment and the Lizzie McGuire revival all imploding before coming to fruition.
Released in 2017, the live-action Beauty and the Beast feature grossed more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office. It was slated to become the latest Disney intellectual property to get the TV series treatment at the streamer, joining a growing slate of Marvel and Star Wars titles as well as Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., High School Musical, National Treasure, The Santa Clause, Willow, Swiss Family Robinson, Percy Jackson, The Sandlot, Turner & Hooch and The Mighty Ducks, among others.
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