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Live-Action Rapunzel Release Date, Cast, And Plot - What We Know So Far

2019 was a banner year for Disney in every sense of the word. Captain Marvel smashed the billion-dollar glass ceiling, and Avengers: Endgame followed in its wake by sweeping the spring box office to the tune of multiple billions of dollars. Spider-Man: Far From Home also continued the Marvel-ous success in surpassing the billion dollar mark.

Stepping outside of the superhero realm, the House of Mouse also raked in over a billion buckaroos each with Toy Story 4 and Frozen II — and the financial fun didn't stop there, either. On top of all of the fireworks, the studio trotted out a slew of live-action remakes and spin-offs of their animated classics, including Dumbo, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, and Aladdin — the last two of which also cracked the billion dollar mark.

With so much box office success, it comes as no surprise that the studio is busy planning as many live-action remakes as possible — a list that now appears to include the long-haired heroine Rapunzel. According to an exclusive report from fansite The DisInsider, the studio has officially greenlit a live-action version of the longer-then life story, and we're officially on the case, tracking down all of the news, from the cast to production, budgets, storylines and more.

What is the release date for the live-action Rapunzel?

These days, Disney is literally juggling an uncountable number of projects at any one given moment, and it's difficult to pin down when to expect recently-announced releases like Rapunzel. Even when a date is officially announced, one can never be sure. The company's live-action Mulan remake was originally slated for release on November 2, 2018. However, after it took a full year just to find their lead actress, the timeline for the entire project was bumped out by nearly a year and a half.

The point is, we have no idea when a live-action Rapunzel could finally hit the big screen — although we do have the consoling rumor (via the DisInsider report) that the movie does appear to be set for a full-blown theatrical release, rather than a Disney+ exclusive, a la Lady and the Tramp.

While we wait for an official release date, it's worth speculating a bit. Disney has gone ahead and slated several upcoming release dates that aren't yet officially attached to any movies. This list includes live-action films on July 30, 2021; Ocbtober 8, 2021; May 27, 2022; July 8, 2022; October 7, 2022; November 4, 2022; and Feburary 17, 2023. All of these dates have been locked down and are awaiting their assigned movie, which means a live-action Rapunzel could certainly arrive at some point in the next two or three years.

Who has been cast for the live-action Rapunzel?

Just like the release date, casting is always something that picks up steam as a project gains some momentum, which means at this point we don't know who will be headlining, supporting, or antagonizing the live-action Rapunzel film.

That said, speculation is already running rampant — particularly if the film ends up being a direct adaptation of Disney's animated feature Tangled (which isn't guaranteed). Screen Rant threw up a list of possible candidates that includes Florence Pugh, Emily Browning, Amanda Seyfried, Sabrina Carpenter, and AnnaSophia Robb. Then, in August 2020, rumors began swirling that Spider-Man actor Tom Holland might have been tapped to play the live-action Flynn Rider, but the actor quickly put that speculation to bed in a remote interview with the radio show Capital Breakfast with Roman Kemp. In a blanket denial that he was in any way involved with the Tangled adaptation, the Avengers: Infinity War star called into question the wisdom of the entire project to bring classic Disney animated features into the third dimension. "I really like that film. There's a lot of these live-action versions of animated films that I loved as a kid and I'm like, 'I don't know if we need them.'" That certainly doesn't sound like a man about to slip into Flynn Rider's leather boots. So we're back to square one in terms of casting intel.

In the meantime, the DisInsider report did include some details about the production team. The report named Ashleigh Powell, who contributed to the script for Disney's The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, as screenwriter. On production duties will be Michael De Luca (The Social Network, Moneyball) and Kristin Burr. Burr already has production credits on two other Disney live-action films (Christopher Robin and the upcoming Cruella) and even helped bring Dora the Explorer to the big screen with Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Executive producers Zoe Kent, Jessica Virtue, and Lucy Kitada are also involved behind the scenes in various capacities.

Recently, Amber Heard's name has bubbled to the top of the rumor pond as a potential Rapunzel, despite the apparent age issue. According to International Business Times, the fans on Twitter have been less than enthusiastic about this unlikely casting rumor, so take it with a grain of salt.

What will the live-action Rapunzel be rated?

Disney's live-action remakes of their animated classics have typically been rated G or PG. They were family friendly, light on the violence, and only occasionally intense or scary. That's no surprise for films attempting to cross generational barriers and speak to both kids and their Millennial parents who grew up with the original versions.

However, the live-action Mulan has officially broken this trend by cracking into PG-13 territory. This makes sense for a film that appears to be attempting to infuse the classic animated story with a heavy dose of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-esque mystic martial arts action. Needless to say, the film leans heavily into the violence and warfare that surrounds Mulan's story, leading to the higher rating.

So what about Rapunzel? If you're considering the Tangled version of the tale, it should be fairly easy to keep things civil. The light yet action-packed narrative has some rough-around-the-edges moments, like the events in the Snuggly Duckling tavern and multiple scenes with dueling, fighting, and other kerfuffly nonsense. However, it never pushes the PG-13 envelope, and a live-action version shouldn't need to either.

That said, the original story (more on that in a bit) has a bit more action and some pretty dark and gruesome scenes that could easily spike the rating to a more teenager-friendly level. Once again, time will tell what the final rating ends up being, but a live-action Rapunzel could certainly go either way.

What's the plot of the live-action Rapunzel?

The House of Mouse has taken a few different approaches to its live-action remakes. Some, like The Lion King, are remarkably close to the original animated versions. Others, like Beauty and the Beast, remain generally faithful to the original plot, but also include new additions. Still others, like Maleficent, take a whole new approach to a cherished story.

When it comes to a live-action version of Rapunzel, then, the question is, which option will they go with? The most obvious inspiration for the movie would be Disney's own version of the story in the form of the enormously popular Tangled. While Tangled does loosely follow the original Rapunzel storyline, though, it incorporates many, many hefty changes.

In a nutshell, Tangled follows Rapunzel, a princess stolen as a baby by Mother Gothel in order to help the villain maintain her youth. She's locked in a tower, but as her 18th birthday approaches, she escapes her confinement with the rascal Flynn Rider and embarks on an adventure wherein she discovers who she is and finds her freedom. She ultimately hooks up with Rider and is reinstated as a princess.

The story is fun, light-hearted, and has proven a hit with critics and audiences. It could make a great baseline narrative for a live-action film, especially if the whimsy, magic, and humor from the animated feature are maintained — oh, and the crowd from the Snuggly Duckling pub, they'd have to be in there too.

But what about the original Rapunzel story?

Of course, Tangled was released in 2010, making it just a decade old at this point. The original story, though, has been around for centuries. The most common version was passed along by the Brothers Grimm, who included it in their 1812 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, and it goes in a dramatically different direction than the one that Disney crafted for the silver screen.

In the Grimm version of the original tale, Rapunzel's parents aren't royalty, and she's basically given to the witch due to a hasty, thoughtless exchange for some fancy veggies that her mom is really craving. The witch takes care of her, but in a helicopter parent move, she locks her up in a tower with no doors or stairs and remains her only visitor.

A prince eventually finds her and starts meeting with her secretly. They plan an escape, but they're caught by the witch, who hides Rapunzel in a "waste and desert place." She then ambushes the prince, who jumps from the tower and is blinded when he falls into some thorns. He wanders about, still blind, until he accidentally finds Rapunzel singing. She hugs him and her tears miraculously cure his blindness. The pair, along with a little boy and girl — apparently they got busy during their secret meetings — head back to the kingdom where they live happily ever after.

While it's similar in many respects, the original Rapunzel story definitely leaves room for the creative team to take the story in another direction if they want to.

Will the live-action Rapunzel be a musical?

When people think of Tangled, they think of musical numbers like "When Will My Life Begin," "I've Got a Dream," "Mother Knows Best," and "I See the Light." There's no doubt that the film is given a huge boost by Mandy Moore's vocals, backed up by the likes of Donna Murphy, Zachary Levi, and even the unforgettable voice of Brad Garrett. So, will Disney pass the musical baton to the live-action version (assuming it closely follows the Tangled storyline)?

The question is another open-ended one. So far, the live-action remakes have been hit-and-miss when it comes to the musical question. Films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King have faithfully remade the music from their original animated inspirations. However, other films, notably Mulan, seem to be purposefully shunning the musical element in favor of a different, more dramatic storytelling vibe.

While it remains in the hands of the production crew to decide if Rapunzel will be a musical or not, the youthful, light-hearted nature of the plot certainly lends itself to song, not to mention the fact that Rapunzel is known for her singing in both the old and new versions of her story. There's certainly no doubt that the singing element fits here better than it does in the more intense story of Mulan — that is, of course, unless they decide to go with the Grimm Brothers' original tale and include lovemaking and the blind prince bit. Then all bets are off.