UPDATE: Filming began today on Disney's live-action Cinderella at London's Pinewood Studios (best known for being the home of all the James Bond movies). Director Kenneth Branaugh (Thor) said in a statement, "It is impossible to think of Cinderella without thinking of Disney and the timeless images we've all grown up watching. And those classic moments are irresistible to a filmmaker. With Lily James we have found our perfect Cinderella. She combines knockout beauty with intelligence, wit, fun and physical grace. Her Prince is being played by Richard Madden, a young actor with incredible power and charisma. He is funny, smart and sexy and a great match for Cinderella."
Disney gives this description of the movie, which sticks pretty close to the 1697 fairy tale and the 1950 Disney animated movie (but don't be surprised if the ending is more female empowered rather than Ella being "rescued" by the prince who whisks her away from the terrible life she was unable to escape on her own):
The story of "Cinderella" follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drisella into the family home. But, when Ella's father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother's dying words and to "have courage and be kind." She will not give in to despair nor despise those who abuse her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears as if her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella's hopes of once again encountering the charming "Kit." Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand as a kindly beggar woman steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella's life forever.
Cinderella marks the first live-action fairy tale movie to come from the Mouse House. It is scheduled for release March 13, 2015.
June 27, 2013 - The mean stepsisters of Cinderella are usually depicted as ugly, but the makeup people will just have to get to work this time. Sophie McShera ("Downton Abbey") and Holliday Grainger (Anna Karenina, pictured left) will play Drizella and Noemie. It's a reunion for Grainger and Helena Bonham Carter, they worked together in last year's Great Expectations. It's also going to be a lot of fun for McShera and Lily James, who plays Cinderella. In their show "Downton Abbey," James plays nobility and McShera plays a kitchen maid - it will be fun for them to switch roles!
June 21, 2013 - Disney is definitely going against type for its live-action Cinderella. Helena Bonham Carter, who is known for playing wacky and often evil characters, will play Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. Bonham Carter played The Red Queen in Disney's live-action Alice in Wonderland and Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies.
On the other hand, Cate Blanchett -- known for playing grand heroines like Princess Galadriel in The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings movies, Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Maid Marion in Robin Hood -- will play the evil stepmother Lady Tremaine.
May 9, 2013 - Prince Charming is already sitting on a throne, at least a "Game of Thrones." Richard Madden, who stars on the HBO series, will play the persistent prince determined to find the mysterious girl he falls for at the ball.
April 30, 2013 - Emma Watson is not playing Cinderella in Disney's live action rags to riches movie. Instead, Lily James will be playing the role of the downtrodden Ella. She's currently on the BBC show "Downton Abbey" and also played Korrina in Wrath of the Titans.
March 1, 2013 - Emma Watson is in early talks to play the ultimate rags-to-riches character Cinderella in Disney's live-action version. Disney is seeing if the shoe fits with the Harry Potter actress after things didn't work out with lesser known actresses Imogen Poots (Me and Orson Welles), Alicia Vikander (Anna Kanenina) and Gabriella Wilde (The Three Musketeers). Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) will play the evil stepmother.
Disney is not allowing its live-action Cindrella to turn into a pumpkin, although all the players have changed since it started working on the project. Kenneth Branagh (Thor) replaced Mark Romanek as director. The script comes from Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass) and Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada).
Just in case our beloved "Hermione" doesn't work out, we'd like to remind Disney that a KidsPickFlicks poll revealed most kids would like to see AnnaSophia Robb (CW's "The Carrie Diaries") play Cinderella.
Sept. 9, 2011 - With three revisionist Snow White movies in the works -- all of which reimagine a tougher princess who just doesn't wait on her prince to come -- her fellow fairytale princess Cinderella is the next subject of reimagination. Disney is working on a version with Mark Romanek (who just directed the Fox pilot Locke & Key starring Jesse McCartney). Now, Universal has hired Chronicles of Narnia scribe Ann Peacock to explore what she could do with a new take on the abused stepdaughter who finds her salvation in a prince. Of course, Cinderella has been revamped over and over again in the last decade with some of the movies/TV movies/DVDs including Ella Enchanted, Ever After, A Cinderella Story, Another Cinderella Story,and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.