Burton kicked off the popular and profitable practice of mining the Disney vault with 2010's hugely successful and truly terrible Alice in Wonderland, which the studio followed up with last year's Maleficent, this month's Cinderella, next year's The Jungle Book, and even Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, as well as the Beauty and the Beast remake that's in pre-production with Emma Stone as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast.
Disney tried like hell to lure Burton aboard last year's Sleeping Beauty riff, but he managed to resist temptation. Creating a nightmare circus and a computer generated elephant proved too tempting, however, as he's fully committed to Dumbo, according The Hollywood Reporter.
The, most recently of Big Eyes, has a long history with Disney, having started out as an animator there decades ago. His last animated feature, 2012's Frankenweenie, was actually a stop-motion take on a live-action short film he made for Disney way back in 1984.
Transformers: Age of Extinction writer Ehren Kruger is responsible for the Dumbo script, but now that Burton's aboard, it's likely a new scribe will overhaul the screenplay to suit his particular tastes.
There should be plenty of time for that. As mentioned, there are plenty of live-action fairy tales in Disney's pipeline and Burton is still working on Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. He's also confirmed that he's developing Beetlejuice 2, though there's no solid timeline for when that sequel might actually happen.
While Kenneth Branagh is earning acclaim for sticking to the basics on Cinderella, it sounds like Dumbo will be more like Alice in Wonderland (a sequel) or Maleficent (a prequel/origin story/revisionist retelling).
We think so because Walt Disney president of production told The Wall Street Journal, "It’s a big world.”
Details are scarce, but apparently making the world of the 1941 animated classic bigger includes adding a human family to the adorable elephant's story. As such, expect Dumbo to liberally mix live-action and CGI.
Hopefully Burton's Dumbo is as heartwarming and wholesome as his tale of a misunderstood penguin: