The version of Into the Woods that hits theaters Christmas Day may not resemble the story as many remember it.
Disney, the studio behind the musical adaptation, is giving the material a nip and tuck to make it more appropriate for all ages.
To make the pic more family-friendly, Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) will not die. The film will also be less sexual as Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine) won’t sleep with the Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) and the relationship between Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp) and Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) won’t be sexually laced.
Composer Steven Sondheim, the musical force behind the musical, isn’t pleased about the tweaks.
You have to explain to them that censorship is part of our puritanical ethics and it’s something that they’re going to have to deal with,” Sondheim responded. “There has to be a point at which you don’t compromise anymore, but that may mean that you won’t get anyone to sell your painting or perform your musical. You have to deal with reality.
Disney isn’t being puritanical. It’s embracing its venerable brand. The mega-studio also recognizes economic reality. Just look at that cast. Pine. Blunt. Depp. Meryl Streep. They don’t come cheap, and it’s likely the film will rack up a big budget en route to the cineplex. That means Into the Woods must reach a broad demographic to make back its costs, and family-friendly fare often does just that.
Perhaps Sondheim should watch last year’s Saving Mr. Banks, a film which showed the creative battle of wills that brought Mary Poppins to the masses. P.L. Travers thought Disney trashed her beloved story. Instead, the studio created a family classic for generations to enjoy.