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‘Enchanted’ Director On Not Returning For Sequel: “It Was A Very, Very Sad Turn”

Fifteen years ago, Disney enchanted viewers by sending its own movie catalog enchantedand now the director talks about challenges in making the movie – and his surprise that he wasn’t asked to work on the new sequel, Disillusioned.

enchanted’Its origins date back to the late 1990s. The first script, written by Bill Kelly (Blast from the past), focusing on Giselle, an animated woman who enjoys singing with animal friends (much like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty) but longs for a long and happy life. After Giselle and the Prince of the Magic Kingdom fall in love, the Evil Queen banishes Giselle to a live-action New York City. Kelly tells The Hollywood Reporter of his initial inspiration: “How could you do a modern-day The sound of music?”

Over the years, the script was rewritten and directors such as Rob Marshall, Jon Turteltaub and Adam Shankman were in talks to helm the project before Kevin Lima came on board. Lima had a long history with the company as an animator, working on character designs for The little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and as a storyboard artist for Aladdin before moving on to directing A crazy movie and 102 Dalmatians. He tells THR those are pitch for enchanted praised the film as a “love letter to Disney”, rather than the more cynical version in the works.

Lima recalls that the studio was looking for an established star as the lead. But he insisted on Amy Adams even before the release of the 2005 dramedy June bug, which would bring her breakthrough and first Oscar nomination. “Amy is the lifeblood of enchantedand without that performance, the film wouldn’t be half of what it is,” says the director.

He also recalls that the studio was “quite nervous” about the film, with some people at Disney expressing concern that the film would only appeal to girls. “The marketing department didn’t believe the movie was worth making,” says Lima. “They didn’t think guys were going to watch this movie, and the marketing department did their best to stop the movie a few times while we were in pre-production. But I was really lucky with that [Disney execs] Nina Jacobson and Dick Cook believed in the film and kept pushing us forward.”

Lima says he felt empowered when the test scores were thrown off the roof, noting that boys loved it too. enchanted hit theaters November 21, 2007, co-starring Patrick Dempsey, Idina Menzel and James Marsden; THR’The film’s review called the film “sometimes clever, sometimes grating.” Viewers were clearly spellbound, as it grossed $340 million worldwide ($471 million today) and earned three original song Oscar nominations for Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s tunes.

A decade and a half later, the movie spawned the sequel Disillusioned, premiering this month on Disney+ with all the leads reprising their roles – but Shankman replaces Lima in the director’s chair. Lima tells THR that he was “shocked” not to be asked to be involved in the new film, which currently has a 39 percent approval rating on Rotten tomatoesunlike enchanted’s 93 percent rating.

“A perfect storm of a change of executives and Hollywood politics unfortunately made sure I wasn’t invited to the party,” he says of Disillusioned. “It was a very, very sad turn of events. I haven’t seen the movie; I haven’t read the script. So I’m going to experience the characters I helped create, grow and live on as audiences do.

Anyway, Lima remains proud of that enchanted has joined the list of fan-favorite Disney princess movies: “Because we paid tribute to those movies in a loving way, enchanted has become timeless.”

THR reported in May 2005 that the long-running project was “back on track” with the hiring of Lima.

The Hollywood Reporter

A version of this story first appeared in the November 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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