Speculation Over Live-Action ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ Resurfaces With Latest Release

in Disney, Merchandise

Quasimodo frees a baby bird in Hunchback of Notre Dame movie

Credit: Disney

For years the Disney Renaissance has been hailed as the best period of Disney animation history. From roughly 1989 to 1999, the Walt Disney Company created some of the best films in the company’s history. These films include The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), the Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), and Mulan (1998). These films gave generations of Disney fans new heroines to look up to and scores of iconic music that is still considered the standard of animated musicals. However, one of these classic films has nearly faded into obscurity in the last few decades, potentially due to its darker themes and storyline.

Esmeralda and Quasimodo
Credit: Disney

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1996 film based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It features Quasimodo, a kind and caring character who is hidden from the world by his caretaker, the evil and judgmentally pious Judge Frollo. Quasimodo sneaks out one day to partake in the exciting Feast of Fools festival, where he meets the beautiful and enchanting Esmeralda, a woman who calls out injustice and the hypocrisy of the church while trying to advocate for her fellow gypsy people.

The movie follows Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Captain Phoebus, a king’s guard turned revolutionary, as they attempt to save the gypsies from Judge Frollo’s extermination attempts. The movie deals with heavy themes of religious hypocrisy, morality, injustice, racism, and classism, and has some of the most iconic songs throughout Disney history.

Esmerelda and Frollo in 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'
Credit: Disney

Judge Frollo’s villain song, “Hellfire,” is arguably one of Disney’s best villain songs. Unfortunately, due to these controversial themes, the movie has been largely swept under the rug by the company, with merchandise and characters hard to find throughout the Disney parks. However, it remains one of the most beloved Disney films to those who grew up with the Disney Renaissance period.

Recently, a fan took to Reddit to share that shopDisney had listed an Esmeralda doll and fans were quick to express their excitement over the inclusion of Hunchback of Notre Dame. In addition to fans expressing their excitement and enjoyment of the movie, it led many to believe that it means that Disney is planning a live-action remake.

I have not seen Esmerelda merch in years
byu/FlashyCow1 indisney

Disney’s live-action remakes have become controversial in the last few years, with many saying that is allowing Disney to continue to capitalize on their successful films without requiring them to actually create any new characters or storylines. It has been rumored for a while that Hunchback could be one of the next live-action Disney movies, with Disney alum Josh Gad (Olaf from Frozen (2013)) even expressing interest in portraying Quasimodo.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the remake is dead in the water, possibly due to the contentious social climate and Disney’s recent struggles at the box office. A few months ago, it had been reported that Disney CEO Bob Iger had scrapped any potential remake of the film and that he wasn’t a fan of the original. The news could actually be a good thing, as many have of the live-action remakes have been highly controversial and largely disappointing for fans, resulting in a disappointing box-office performance for Disney.

Esmerelda sings God Help the Outcast
Credit: Disney

This year alone saw the release of several live-action remakes, including The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan & Wendy, and The Haunted Mansion (which is technically a live-action remake of a live-action movie). Other live-actions reportedly already in the works are Moana, Tangled, Princess and the Frog, and Lilo & Stitch.

Whether or not fans could or should expect a remake of the classic Disney animated feature, hopefully this means a small resurgence for authentic  Hunchback of Notre Dame merchandise from Disney and the Disney parks. Guests can meet Esmerelda at Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, but for now, she and the other beloved characters remain absent from the U.S. Disney parks.

Do you think Hunchback of Notre Dame deserves more of a presence in the parks? Let us know why or why not in the comments below!

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