Disney’s live-action adaptations of its animated classics have been incredible hits for the company, and the newest one is about to get pretty cruel. Cruella, a prequel to 101 Dalmatians, dropped its first trailer today showing off a decidedly dark and surprisingly adult-looking film that tells the original story of Cruella de Vil, played here by Emma Stone.
As portions of the trailer indicate, Cruella is set in the 1970s, during the punk rock revolution, and finds Estella (Stone) drifting through London, trying to make a name for herself with her fashion. When she meets two thieves, the trio begin to make a life for themselves on the streets. However, everything changes when Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), an haute fashion legend, notices Estella’s flair. Their relationship turns Estella into the evil, dog-killing Cruella. Judging from the trailer, that will mean a lot of over-the-top chewing of scenery for Stone and Thompson, and it looks wonderful.
Cruella goes back to Disney’s original plans for its live-action remakes, which was to take an aspect of the animated film (particularly the villain) and expand upon it as it did with Maleficent. However, it found more success with direct adaptations and has pivoted mostly to those. That’s not exactly a bad thing as the likes of The Jungle Book and The Lion King were fantastic, but it’s fun to see the bad guys get another chance to shine. There’s also the fact that 101 Dalmations was already adapted into two live-action films with Glenn Close starring as Cruella. That was long before Disney thought of remaking its entire animated library of films as a long-term strategy, though, so it isn’t considered connected to its current rapid release of adaptations.
Cruella is directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) and is co-written by Dana Fox and Tony McNamara. The film is set to release in theaters on May 28, 2021 — for now.