Chernin Entertainment is following the trend of Maleficent and Cinderella, developing a film based around Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Titled after the story’s heroine, ESMERALDA is a live-action retelling of Victor Hugo’s novel from the singular perspective of Esmeralda. Peter Chernin will produce under his Chernin banner.
The character was perhaps made most famous by the 1996 Disney adaptation The Hunchback of Notre Dame, though it differed heavily from the novel. In both versions, Esmeralda is a streetwise Romani girl who is accompanied by her pet goat Djali, performing tricks and dances with a tambourine. Esmeralda pities the misshapen Quasimodo, who develops strong feelings for her and seeks to protect her from the vicious Claude Frollo, who expresses rage towards her due to his rebuffed advances. In the novel, Esmeralda becomes falsely convicted of the murder of Captain Phoebus, whom she falls in love with, and is sentenced to death.
The film fits the ongoing slate of live-action pics centering on classic fairytales and stories, which are being developed at nearly every studio under the sun. Disney found great success with both Maleficent and Cinderella, which raked in $758 million worldwide and $542 million worldwide, respectively. The success of those films kickstarted development on live-action versions of Beauty and The Beast, Pinnochio, The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, and The Jungle Book, as well as films centering on specific characters such as the Genie from Aladdin and Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians. And it isn’t just Disney getting in on the action, as there are competing Jungle Book, Little Mermaid, Pinocchio, and Robin Hood features across the map.
Esmeralda marks only the latest spin on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as an indie titled The Hunchback is also in the works, set to star Max Ryan. The Hunchback will instead draw closer to Hugo’s novel, whereas Esmeralda will focus on the titular heroine.
Chernin’s next release is the Tim Burton-directed Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children adaptation, which hits theaters in December of 2016. Chernin just wrapped on the Zac Efron-led comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and is currently shooting the latest Planet of the Apes sequel, War for the Planet of the Apes.
Clark Allen | Associate Editor