Paul Briggs -- head of story on "Big Hero 6" and "Frozen" -- will make his directorial debut, THS added, alongside "Tangled" animator Dean Wellins. "Cars" and "Cars 3" writer Kiel Murray is said to be developing the script, with "Moana" producer Osnat Shurer back to produce.
THS said Disney is currently meeting with actors for roles, and they shared three character breakdowns.
Jamie Chung has shown interest in the female lead character and heroine of the film, named Jan-Nin. Chung is already part of the Disney family, playing Mulan in ABC's "Once Upon a Time"; she's also known from Disney's "Big Hero 6," plus "The Gifted."
The lead male character, Bolin, is said to be comic relief and a 900-year-old mentor to Jan-Nin. There's also a supporting male character called Katsu.
Are those characters dragons? They'd better be. Dragons need to be the true stars, or else the film needs a title change. (The photo at top is Maleficent in Disney's "Sleeping Beauty.")
DreamWorks already has a dragon franchise with "How to Train Your Dragon," but that feature film trilogy ends in March 2019 with "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World." So there's a bit of an opening in the dragon market.
There's no release date yet for Disney's "Dragon Empire," but THS speculated that it might take the November 25, 2020 Thanksgiving spot that had previously been given to the Jack on the Beanstalk movie "Gigantic."
When Disney shelved "Gigantic" in October 2017, execs teased the next original project:
"It's impossible to know when we begin a project how the creative process will unfold, and sometimes, no matter how much we love an idea or how much heart goes into it, we find that it just isn't working," said Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull. "With Gigantic, we've come to that point, and although it's a difficult decision, we are ending active development for now. We are focusing our energies on another project that has been in the works, which we'll be sharing more about soon, now set for Thanksgiving 2020."
As The Hollywood Reporter noted at the time, "Details regarding the new project were not revealed, although insiders said it would be an original feature."
Sounds like maybe they were teasing "Dragon Empire."
Meanwhile, "Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2" opens November 21, 2018, and "Frozen 2" is scheduled for November 27, 2019.
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