Universal is stepping up to challenge Disney in the fairytale arena as they have just acquired the feature rights for Jen Wang’s graphic novel, The Prince and the Dressmaker.
“The book, which examines identity, love, family relationships and sexuality, was brought into the company by Marc Platt Productions’ Adam Siegel (Drive). Senior VP of production Kristin Lowe will oversee production on behalf of Universal Pictures.”
Wang’s YA novel follows the sweet friendship between Frances, a seamstress, and Prince Sebastian, who will soon be married off by his parents. The twist here is that at night our genderfluid Prince transforms: he wears a red wig and Frances’ beautiful ball gowns to transform himself into Lady Crystallia, Parisian fashion icon.
This places Frances in a difficult position as she cannot be someone’s dressmaker and fulfill her own dreams. However, she doesn’t want to hurt her friend who is under immense pressure. The story follows two people who share the same fondness for fashion, and wear dresses.
Universal stumbled with past fairytale adaptations like Snow White and The Huntsman and it’s sequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War, but now seems to be taking another route. Last year, they acquired the rights for The Paper Bag Princess book, which follows a princess who loses her worldly possessions and her prince to a dragon, and must go on a quest to save them both, all while wearing a paper bag dress. Elizabeth Banks will potential direct with Margot Robbie as the lead.
These fairytales are unlike anything Disney has ever delved into. With the exception of LeFou from Beauty and the Beast, there have been no explicit attempts in portraying individuals that break from gender norms or are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Now that Universal has bagged these two fairytales it is clear they intend to offer audiences characters and stories that break away from traditional fairytales.
You can get your copy of The Prince and the Dressmaker here.