The Chronicles of Prydain may be one of the most beloved high fantasy series of all time, but the world was not ready for a Disney film adaptation back in 1985. Lloyd Alexander’s series of five books, inspired by Welsh mythology, have been in print for fifty years. Disney acquired the film rights to The Chronicles of Prydain in 1973, but despite much enthusiasm for the project, production didn’t commence until 1981. And when production finally began the budget was immense. The Black Cauldron was the first Disney film that used computer animation and 6-track Dolby sound, the first in 70mm widescreen since Sleeping Beauty, and there was even a ground-breaking holographic sequence; when the first Cauldron-born emerged from the cauldron the image would be projected into the theatre. Somewhere between $25-40 million later (reports vary) Disney had a new regime and Jeffrey Katzenberg stepped in and butchered the film, clumsily cutting twelve minutes of footage trying to turn it into a more ‘family-friendly’ film.
The Black Cauldron was a box-office bomb, it was never re-released in theatres and it took ten years before Disney released it on home video. But despite all of this, the film still has plenty of fans who consider it one of those underrated Disney gems. Now Variety reports that Disney has acquired the rights to The Chronicles of Prydain once again. There is no other news so far, no directors, writers or producers are attached and it is not even certain if Disney are planning on adding The Chronicles of Prydain to their long list of live-action remakes or remaking the animated film. I would love to see a return to hand-drawn animation but it may be more likely Disney are looking at a live-action reboot. One thing is certain, for a film that was largely criticised for being too dark and not in the true “Disney spirit” would certainly have a far wider audience now, and with the success of various film ‘franchises’ such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games there is a good chance we could see all five books adapted.