Hunchback of Notre Dame Cast

Disney’s underrated take on The Hunchback of Notre Dame turns 25 this month, but he doesn’t look a day over 20! In honor of the film’s anniversary, /Film’s Josh Spiegel compiled an exhaustive oral history of the animated musical and learned some interesting details in the process, including the confirmation that several different voice actors were considered for major roles, including Anthony Hopkins, David Letterman, Cyndi Lauper, and more.

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hunchback of notre dame michael jackson

Hollywood “almosts” are some of the most popular stories to circulate the internet. Did you know Eric Stoltz almost played Marty McFly? Etcetera, etcetera. At this point, these pieces of trivia are so readily available on the web that they’re no longer a surprise. But every now and then, a new one gets unearthed.

In /Film writer Josh Spiegel’s new oral history of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, composer Alan Menken revealed that one famous pop star almost featured in a few songs from the soundtrack for the 1996 Disney film. You heard it here first, folks: we almost got a Michael Jackson version of “God Help the Outcasts.”

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Hunchback of Notre Dame Oral History

In the mid-1990s, the possibilities were endless for Walt Disney Feature Animation. After the studio hit creative highs with Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, Disney was powerful enough to take risks that were impossible a decade earlier. An adaptation of an iconic Victor Hugo novel was such a risk.

25 years later, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the most remarkable films Disney’s ever released, and one that hasn’t been topped for sheer boldness. As it celebrates its 25th birthday, 15 of the production’s key players – from directors to songwriters to animators and actors – took part in this oral history recounting how the film was made…and how they got away with it.

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New Ben Harman Disney Posters

Artist Ben Harman has been delivering some of the best artwork we’ve ever seen inspired by the film of Walt Disney Animation. Today, his offerings expand with a batch of new releases from Bottleneck Gallery. Sticking with his signature tall framing style, the new Ben Harman Disney posters focus on Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 101 Dalmatians, The Aristocats, and Alice in Wonderland. Get a look at all of them below. Read More »

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Revisited

(Revisiting the Renaissance is a bi-weekly series in which Josh Spiegel looks back at the history and making of the 13 films of the Disney Renaissance, released between 1986 and 1999. In today’s column, he discusses the 1996 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.)

In the mid-1980s, when Jeffrey Katzenberg sat down to watch an early cut of The Black Cauldron, one of the concerns he had was that the film was too dark. Even in the 1980s, there existed a cultural notion of what was and was not acceptable and expected from a “Disney movie”. A film in which a character called the Horned King strives to raise an army of the dead was simply too grim for the studio to handle. 

But The Black Cauldron also arrived at a low point for Disney animation. The studio couldn’t push the envelope because they were struggling to get by. Being daring is risky enough when you’re popular, let alone on death’s door. When, however, you become wildly successful with critics and worldwide audiences, you can push yourselves and your target demographics.

Take, for example, a film from the same studio released in the summer of 1996. This film opens with a six-minute musical number in which a self-righteous and cruel villain murders an innocent, defenseless woman and is just barely stopped from drowning a deformed baby by a horrified priest.

In short, it takes very little time for Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame to establish that it’s not fucking around.

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hunchback of notre dame live action

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the next beloved Disney animated staple to get the live-action treatment.

The live-action musical, simply titled Hunchback, will adapt not only 1996 Disney film but the 1831 Victor Hugo novel upon which it was based. And if you’re wondering exactly how they’re going to turn this surprisingly dark Disney animated movie into a family-friendly live-action film, the House of Mouse is reportedly eyeing its favorite comedic bit player, Josh Gad, for the lead.

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idris elba the hunchback of notre dame

Idris Elba will be putting a sexier, modern-day spin on Victor Hugo‘s Gothic classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Elba will be directing, producing, and starring in The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Netflix in a movie that is described as a “sonic and musical experience.” But that’s not the best part — Elba, who is a pretty successful DJ when he’s not working as a Hollywood star, will also be producing original music for the feature.

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hercules disney

(Welcome to Nostalgia Bomb, a series where we take a look back on beloved childhood favorites and discern whether or not they’re actually any good. In this edition: a look back at Disney’s post-rennaisance animated output, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, and Hercules.)

When people think of Disney, they often jump to the classics – Bambi, Dumbo, Snow White, and so on. But my generation has a different list. We were raised on the studio’s late ’80s and early ’90s “renaissance” titles, including Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King. But after 1995, the seemingly unstoppable Disney animation machine began to slow down. The films of the late ’90s live on as childhood favorites, not undisputed classics.

And that brings me to the question of the moment: some 20 years later, do these later films of the renaissance era hold up? Are their charms enough to cover their bigger flaws? Is it all nostalgia or are some of these true cinematic gems? Please keep your arms, feet and legs inside the vehicle at all times, because we’re about to take a trip to the late-’90s era of the House of Mouse.

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guardians of the galaxy opening scene

How a film opens says a lot about its style and tone, and can turn people off or make them sit forward in their seats with curiosity. This week’s big new release, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, has a hard act to follow; its 2014 predecessor had a memorable opening in which hero Peter Quill/Star-Lord dances through an alien world, blasting “Come and Get Your Love” on his old Walkman. As we wait to see if Vol. 2 lives up to the original, let’s look at 15 of the best opening scenes in movies.
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Hunchback of Notre Dame

Disney has a long history of bringing their successful film musicals into real life via the theater stage. Movies like Beauty and The Beast, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid have all made it to Broadway. The Lion King, Newsies and Aladdin are still (or soon to be) playing. There are rumors Frozen is in the works too, but before that can go into production a brand new project has been announced. It’s based on the 1996 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and will feature the music and lyrics of multiple Oscar, Grammy and Tony winners Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, responsible for work like Newsies, Wicked, and Little Shop of Horrors.

The show will debut at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, CA in October before a potential, but as-yet-unconfirmed, Broadway run. Read More »