Exclusive: The Lion King To Go 3D!

Plus Roger Rabbit 2 & The Snow Queen

Don Hahn may not be a household name, but you’ll know the movies he’s produced: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beauty And The Beast and The Lion King, among many others. The animation legend was recently in London to visit pre-production on Tim Burton’s next movie, Frankenweenie, set to shoot soon at Three Mill Studios, so we grabbed some time with him to talk the forthcoming Beauty And The Beast Blu-ray (check the paper version of Empire soon for more on that). Along the way, he dropped a few tasty news-crumbs, which we of course scooped up in our dustpan of truth...

First, Hahn revealed that Beauty And The Beast isn’t the only Disney classic about to go 3D. A certain cartoon starring a warthog and a meerkat will be returning to cinemas too. “I’m actually trying to work out a 3D conversion of The Lion King. I’ll be doing that when I go back to the States in a couple of weeks,” he said, explaining that we shouldn’t expect to see it for a while yet, since the Disney boffins are taking their time in making Simba, Zazu et al pop out of the screen. “It’s going to be spectacular – we will do a good job for ya! The technology is tremendous. We did A Nightmare Before Christmas a few years ago and Tim thought it was better than the original because it allows you to walk onto the set.”

Just as excitingly, Hahn is involved in the long-awaited sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. And while it’s all gone quiet in terms of news on Roger 2 — the last we heard was back in November, when it was announced the original’s writers were working on the script — the producer confirms, albeit coyly, that it is still very much happening. “Yeah, I couldn’t possibly comment. I deny completely, but yeah… if you’re a fan, pretty soon you’re going to be very, very, very happy.”

Less good news with another movie on his slate: The Snow Queen, an adaptation of a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale that was rumoured to be Disney’s next hand-drawn animation. Consider those rumours now well and truly nixed. “It’s actually been tabled right now,” explains Hahn. “It’s on the low shelf – we can’t reach it! But seriously, we don’t have the story. It’s a bit like Beauty And The Beast, which sat there for years. We cracked Beauty finally by putting in the objects and creating more plot. The Snow Queen we’ve had a lot of trouble with and I’ve spent years on it. I love it and I think it’s one of the last great fairy tales. It’s kind of crappy that it’s just sitting there right now.”

And finally, what of Maleficent, the live-action version of Sleeping Beauty that may (or may not) be directed by Tim Burton and may (or may not) star Angelina Jolie? “That’s another one I can’t talk about! All I can say is that it’s in active development and will be pretty fun. It is great working again with Tim on Frankenweenie, though: I love that he’s back to doing puppets. But Maleficent is a way off and it’s a little too early to talk about it, except to say that it’s happening.”