Once upon a time, most fairy tales were retold in the movies via animation. But the 21st-century advent of CGI has changed the nature of what magic can be achieved on screen, and in the last decade, Disney has taken full advantage of this. Since the live-action version of Alice in Wonderland hit big, the company has remade some of its biggest hits to great box office success. Now, the latest movie remake will see the House of Mouse bring back its oldest hit, with West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler starring in the Snow White live-action remake.
Snow White was the Cinderella story that started it all for Disney. The film took three years to make and was dubbed “Disney’s folly” by critics who thought the idea of a feature-length animated children’s story was a non-starter. It turns out, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was such a hit, it was re-released in theaters eight times between 1944 and 1993 and kicked off what is known as Disney’s golden era of animation.
Whether or not a live-action remake can have the same smashing success almost a century later remains to be seen. But for Zegler, it’s the manifestation of a dream she put out into the world four years ago.
That Disney is banking on Zegler to headline this very important live-action remake also speaks volumes for how the company expects the West Side Story movie remake to do when it finally lands in theaters. The musical was initially planned as a holiday release for 2020 and is now booked for Dec. 10, 2021. A remake of the hit 1961 film (which, as the trailer reveals, includes a lot of the same costuming and shots), West Side Story will mark Zegler’s big-screen debut, the result of a worldwide casting hunt for the right actor to play Maria. According to Deadline, casting for Snow White was also a months-long process and early footage from West Side Story was instrumental in the decision.
Zegler is also the second woman of color to be cast as a Disney princess in a live-action remake, following Halle Bailey landing the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, bringing a welcome dose of diversity to what was once an all-white pantheon of princesses.
There’s no word yet on when Snow White is expected to hit theaters, although considering how full Disney’s schedule already is for 2022, fans should probably not expect it for at least a year or two.