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Sarah Polley set to direct live-action Bambi remake for Disney

<span>Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Oscar-winner Sarah Polley is in talks to direct a live-action Bambi film for Disney.

According to Deadline, the writer-director, who recently won the Academy award for best adapted screenplay for Women Talking, is in discussions with the studio on the project which would use photorealistic CGI.

Related: Sarah Polley: ‘It took me years to see how responsible Terry Gilliam was for my terror’

The film was initially announced in 2020 with Captain Marvel screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser writer Lindsey Beer attached. It’s unclear if the screenplay will remain the same.

The news follows Disney’s most recent live-action adaptation The Little Mermaid opening in May to mixed reviews and underwhelming international box office. The Guardian’s Ellen E Jones likened it to “a dying fish on deck” and while it’s made $229m domestically, it’s struggled overseas with some experts speaking of a racist backlash in certain countries given the lead role being played by a Black actor.

Based on the book by Felix Salten, Bambi tells the story of a young deer who must find a new family when his mother is killed. It was released in 1942 and while it had mixed reviews at the time, it has since been seen as one of Disney’s greatest films. It received a sequel in 2006.

This year will also see the release of Bambi: The Reckoning, a horror film where Bambi becomes “a vicious killing machine” from the director of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.

Polley, who as an actor is known for films such as Go, Dawn of the Dead and The Sweet Hereafter, has become an acclaimed writer-director for films such as Away From Her, Take This Waltz and documentary Stories We Tell.

Her adaptation of Miriam Toews novel Women Talking, about a group of Mennonite women fighting back against sexual assault, was a critical success in 2022 and received an Oscar nomination for best picture.

Disney’s forthcoming live-action slate includes Snow White starring Rachel Zegler and Gal Gadot, set to be released in 2024, Mufasa: The Lion King directed by Barry Jenkins and Lilo and Stitch from Dean Fleischer Camp, who recently received positive notices for Marcel the Shell with the Shoes On.