Alan Menken, the Oscar-winning songwriter and composer behind some of Disney’s best-known melodies, will write the original music and score for Vicky Jenson’s upcoming Skydance Animation feature Spellbound.
Menken will write music with lyricist Glenn Slater, with whom he’s collaborated on past projects like the Broadway adaptation of The Little Mermaid and Disney’s Tangled. Music producer Chris Montan (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen), the former president of Walt Disney Music, has also boarded the project.
Working with such renowned lyricists as Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Menken helped define the sound of Disney’s 1990s renaissance. His credits include The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Enchanted, and Tangled. He has also composed extensively for Broadway, as well as non-Disney films like Sausage Party. He has won eight Oscars — more than anyone else alive.
Watch him describe how he wrote “A Whole New World” below:
Spellbound (working title) is described as a musical fantasy “set in a world of magic where a young girl must break the spell that has split her kingdom in two.” Previously known as Split, the film is directed by Jenson (Shrek, Shark Tale) and written by Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin (Mulan) and Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King).
In a statement, Menken said, “I’m thrilled to be united with so many talented collaborators and very much look forward to working with Vicky Jenson, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin. Spellbound promises to be quite unique and inspiring.”
Jenson added, “Alan Menken’s music defines a generation and is loved by audiences around the world. From day one, we knew this magical world would be full of music, and we knew only Alan could bring it to life. With Glenn and Chris onboard, their combined creativity adds so much depth and complexity to the emotions of our characters and this very unique story. It is a true honor to collaborate with this team.”
Skydance Animation was launched in 2017 as a division of Skydance Media, the film production company founded by David Ellison. It has yet to release anything, but currently has multiple film and tv projects in development. It recently expanded its production capacity by acquiring the animation unit of Madrid, Spain-based Ilion Studios.
In January 2019, John Lasseter, the former creative leader of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, was hired to lead the division nine days after the end of his Disney contract. Skydance Animation’s president is Holly Edwards, a veteran producer and production executive, who came over from Dreamworks Animation in February 2019, where she last co-produced Trolls.
The studio’s other announced feature film is Luck, which is being directed by Peggy Holmes. Luck is currently slotted for March 19, 2021 release.