According to Deadline, Will Smith is no longer in talks with Disney to appear in yet another planned animated-turned-live-action project, Dumbo. While he had never fully committed to the project, negotiations were reportedly being undertaken to bring him on board and announced not that long ago.
What does this mean for Dumbo? Probably not all that much. While we all love Will Smith, and while he might have brought something interesting to this story, the plot is really about an elephant and a mouse and not human beings. Of course, the goal could be to steer this in a different direction than the original animated film from 1941, which could be interesting. Perhaps Will Smith was not going to be a regular guy at all, performing a voice or doing some motion capture work or something. We can only speculate.
With Tim Burton attached to direct, it looks like the version we know and love of Dumbo is already going to look pretty different. Of all the classic Disney animated films to remake or reboot, this would not be my number one choice. Personally, I could do without having two versions of every Disney animated film, but, if you must remake something, I say to make it a little different, and that certainly seems to be the case with this film’s approach. Maybe Burton will bring more of a heartfelt Big Fish (2003) element to the film rather than a creepy and dreary Corpse Bride (2005) or Miss Peregrine (2016) touch. He is certainly an accomplished and respected director, but the Dumbo character should be cute, not scary; hopefully, Burton will keep that in mind yet bring a unique flair to the story. All I know is I want the catchy "When I See an Elephant Fly" song playing somewhere in it.
Sorry to see you go, Will Smith, but I’m sure Disney will find another reputable name to fill your shoes.
Dumbo is still in pre-production and does not yet have a release date attached.