Disney has come aboard to co-produce and co-finance The BFG, the adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic that Steven Spielberg is directing in Vancouver. It’s Spielberg’s first Disney movie as director. Tony winner Mark Rylance plays the Big Friendly Giant title character, and newcomer Ruby Barnhill is Sophie. Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement, Michael David Adamthwaite, Daniel Bacon, Chris Gibbs, Adam Godley, Jonathan Holmes, Paul Moniz de Sa and Olafur Darri Olafsson have all joined to play giants. Buckingham Palace also has found its residents with Penelope Wilton being cast as the Queen and Rebecca Hall as Mary, the Queen’s maid. It’s a co-production between DreamWorks and Walden Media.
“In more than 40 years of making movies, I have been on the producing end of a number of films for the Walt Disney Company, but never as a director,” Spielberg said. “It is a special joy to be in the director’s chair as we start The BFG, alongside my longtime friends and film collaborators Kathy Kennedy — who introduced me to this project — Frank Marshall and Melissa Mathison. Together with them and Disney, there are many reasons why I am so excited about this joint venture.”
Script is by Spielberg’s E.T. scribe Melissa Mathison and Spielberg. Marshall and Sam Mercer will produce while Kennedy, John Madden, Michael Siegel and Kristie Macosko Krieger are on board as executive producers. Pic bows July 1, 2016, the 100th anniversary of Dahl’s birth. Disney will distribute in the U.S. and some offshore territories, while Mister Smith Entertainment will oversee distribution in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Reliance will distribute the film in India.